The 34-year-old revealed on TBS’s “Conan” on Thursday she set up a monthly donation to the organization in Pence’s name that results in Planned Parenthood sending the 58-year-old a letter thanking him for his generosity each month.
“I disagreed with some of the stuff that Pence was doing and was trying to do,” explained Kunis, as reported by The Hill. “And so, as a reminder that there are women in the world that may or may not agree with his platform, I put him on a list of reoccurring donations that are made in his name to Planned Parenthood.
“So this happens every month?” questioned host Conan O’Brien.
“Every month, to his office, he gets a little letter that says ‘an anonymous donation has been made in your name,’” confirmed the former “That ‘70s Show” star. “I don’t look at it as a prank, I look at it just as, I strongly disagree [with him], and this is my little way of showing it.”
Pence is a longtime opponent of abortion, having signed several pieces of anti-abortion legislation while previously serving as the governor of Indiana.
At a time when the US national debt stands at just over $20 trillion, American taxpayers find themselves stuck with a massive maintenance bill to keep the nation’s nuclear arsenal operational over the next three decades.
The modernization of US nuclear forces will carry a price tag estimated at $1.2 trillion from 2017 until 2046, according to the US Congress Budget Office (CBO) report.
That planned modernization would increase the total costs of maintaining the current number of nuclear weapons and delivery system by 50 percent over normal operating costs, according to the CBO.
The trillion-dollar question on everybody’s mind is: How exactly will the US government foot the bill for such a massive program?
“We never really knew where the money was coming from and now it is even less clear,” Jon Wolfsthal, former senior director for arms control and non-proliferation in the Obama administration, told the Guardian.
The CBO points out, however, that the modernization plan was attached to the Obama administration’s 2017 budget request, and may change in the context of Trump’s plans for US national security.
Presently, the Pentagon is placing the finishing touches on its so-called Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which lays out ground rules for Washington’s procurement and use of nuclear weapons. The final version of the NPR is expected to be forwarded to Trump’s desk for approval around late December 2017 or early January 2018, according to reports.
The first draft of the NPR – which is rumored to open the door to underground nuclear tests, last carried out in 1992, as well as new guidelines for determining when it is permissible to resort to the use of nuclear weapons – was presented in September during a meeting between Trump and his top national-security advisers.
“You can … be assured that our administration is committed to strengthen and modernize America’s nuclear deterrent,” Mike Pence, the vice president, said in late October during a visit to Minot air force base in North Dakota, a main hub for Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and B-52 bombers.
Pence continued with comments that carried faint shades of Orwellian doublespeak: “There’s no greater element of American strength, there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.”
Nevertheless, there remains a possibility that Donald Trump, taking into account the US government’s massive debt load, coupled with his campaign pledge to rebuild the crumbling US infrastructure – part of his ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign – may “shift resources to address other defense priorities in the face of long-term budgetary pressures,” the CBO added.
America’s aging nuclear arsenal, much of which was built many decades ago, is reported to be nearing the end of its service life. Trump is therefore expected to accept – begrudgingly, of course – much of his predecessor’s whopping spending package. This is comprised of $772 billion for the operation, sustainment and modernization of strategic nuclear delivery systems ($313 billion of that amount to be used for ballistic missile submarines); $445 billion for research labs and production facilities that support nuclear weapons activities and the command, control, communications, and early-warning systems connected to nuclear forces; while the remaining $25 billion will be slated for shorter-range aircraft and the nuclear weapons they carry.
According to the Department of Defense, “virtually every element” of the forces it decides to retain will need to be completely modernized or refurbished.
Whether the bloated American budget can handle the sticker shock is another question.
“Across the wider Middle East, we can now see a future in many areas without a Christian faith. But tonight, I came to tell you: Help is on the way.”
He took aim at the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which overran large areas of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and forced thousands of Christians to flee, and imprisoned or executed them if they remained. He said the group’s fighters had committed “vile acts of persecution animated by hatred for Christians and the Gospel of Christ.”
Pence said Washington would take “the fight to terrorists on our terms, on their soil” and “hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source, so it can no longer threaten our people or anyone who calls the Middle East home.”
The president’s team has predominantly focused on talking about helping Christians in the Middle East, as opposed to Muslims in the region affected by radical Islamist groups. Critics of the government accused it of targeting Muslims in a proposed travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries that President Donald Trump said was only touted for security reasons.
Jared Kushner (L), senior advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) attend a joint statement in the Rose Garden held by U.S. President Donald Trump and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC.WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY
Pence explained the divergence of funds from the U.N., saying that it was an “ineffective” use of U.S. money.
“Here is the sad reality: the United Nations claims that more than 160 projects are in Christian areas. But for a third of those projects, there are no Christians to help,” the vice-president said.
Christian leaders have said that followers of the religion are experiencing some of the worst persecution in its history.
A report recently released by Christian organization Aid To The Church In Need said the U.N. was not meeting the requirements of Christians in the Middle East and failing to provide “the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the Catholic Herald reported.
The population of Christians in the Middle East has declined over the past century. But the insecurity faced by Christians in recent years has seen their population decrease even more. As of July 2015, a third of Syria’s 600,000 Christians had fled; Lebanon’s Christian population share has shrunk from 78 percent to 34 percent over the previous century; and only a third of the 1.5 million Christians who lived in Iraq in 2003 remain today, according to The New York Times.
Lyon’s Archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin stands next to an Islamic State (IS) group graffiti during a visit to the Church of the Annunciation in east Mosul on July 25, 2017.SAFIN HAMED/AFP/GETTY
Catholic organization the Knights of Columbus lauded Pence’s words.
“A year ago the United States used the right word to describe what was happening to Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. That word was genocide. Tonight, those words were put into action,” the group’s Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said in a statement.
Others were more skeptical about the U.S. pledge. Diana Sarkisian, who works for A Demand For Action, an advocacy organization for minority groups in the Middle East, tweeted: “Mike Pence makes big promises to defend Christians in ME (Middle East). Yeah, heard that one before.”
Fast-moving fires engulfing Northern California have left behind a trail of destruction. Authorities have issued a state of emergency as flames consume houses, businesses and infrastructure throughout the state.
California firefighters are facing a worsening situation as winds are expected to pick up to around 50 mph (80 km/h), spreading what has been called one of the worst fires in the state’s history. The number of fires increased from 17 to 22 Wednesday and the number of confirmed dead has increased to 21. Some 170,000 acres (690 square kilometers) have been consumed by the fire, as well as more than 3,500 homes. Firefighters described the situation as “very active on several fronts.”
Wildfires tear through California
Unknown number of missing
The largest fires are burning in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties in the heart of California’s wine region. On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the area. Large-scale evacuations are currently under way and the number of missing is unknown.
In Sonoma county alone, 670 people are unaccounted for. As of Tuesday, some 20,000 residents had been evacuated from their homes. Authorities have set up a registry for missing persons and encouraged residents to sign in once they were safe. Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said that many missing residents had been found, though they had not logged onto the registry site.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Chief Ken Pimlott called the Northern California wildfires, “a serious, critical and catastrophic event.” Tens of thousands of residents have also been left without power as a result of fires destroying infrastructure. Smoke and ash from the fires has been so intense in neighboring San Francisco that residents there have been told to stay indoors and to wear breathing masks if possible. No rain is forecast for the area for the next week.
As firefighters attempt to contain the Northern California blazes, their colleagues in Southern California announced that more than 1,600 firefighters in Orange County had contained roughly 40 percent of the brushfires burning there. Authorities say they hope to have those fires completely contained by Saturday.
Plea for federal assistance
California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris yesterday called on US President Donald Trump and Congress to provide federal assistance to their ravaged state, saying damage exceeded that which it could bear alone. On Monday, Vice-President Mike Pence, who was fundraising for Republican congressional candidates in California, left his prepared remarks to say that “the federal government stands ready to provide any and all assistance to the state of California as your courageous firefighters and first responders confront this widening challenge.”
js/bk (AP, Reuters)
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES IN PICTURES
Air crews are dropping fire retardant to stop the spread of the wildfires. The fires were fanned by high temperatures and dryness.
At least 17 people have died and around 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed as devastating wildfires sweep through California’s wine country. Over 25,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. (11.10.2017)
Climate change sets the world on fire
Southern Europe and British Columbia have been devastated by wildfires this summer. And they’re not the only ones – it seems like much of the world is ablaze right now, and this could be the new normal. (21.08.2017)
Global warming is increasing forest fire risk in the Alps
New regional and global studies link heatwaves, drought and insect outbreaks with a surge in wildfires, and the Alps are unlikely to be spared. (02.03.2017)
WASHINGTON — Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse have already been to Iowa this year, Gov. John Kasich is eyeing a return visit to New Hampshire, and Mike Pence’s schedule is so full of political events that Republicans joke that he is acting more like a second-term vice president hoping to clear the field than a No. 2 sworn in a little over six months ago.
President Trump’s first term is ostensibly just warming up, but luminaries in his own party have begun what amounts to a shadow campaign for 2020 — as if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue weren’t involved.
The would-be candidates are cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups and carefully enhancing their profiles. Mr. Trump has given no indication that he will decline to seek a second term.
But the sheer disarray surrounding this presidency — the intensifying investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the plain uncertainty about what Mr. Trump will do in the next week, let alone in the next election — have prompted Republican officeholders to take political steps unheard-of so soon into a new administration.
Asked about those Republicans who seem to be eyeing 2020, a White House spokeswoman, Lindsay Walters, fired a warning shot: “The president is as strong as he’s ever been in Iowa, and every potentially ambitious Republican knows that.”
But in interviews with more than 75 Republicans at every level of the party, elected officials, donors and strategists expressed widespread uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump would be on the ballot in 2020 and little doubt that others in the party are engaged in barely veiled contingency planning.
“They see weakness in this president,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “Look, it’s not a nice business we’re in.”
Mr. Trump changed the rules of intraparty politics last year when he took down some of the leading lights of the Republican Party to seize the nomination. Now a handful of hopefuls are quietly discarding traditions that would have dictated, for instance, the respectful abstention from speaking at Republican dinners in the states that kick off the presidential nomination process.
In most cases, the shadow candidates and their operatives have signaled that they are preparing only in case Mr. Trump is not available in 2020. Most significant, multiple advisers to Mr. Pence have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr. Trump did not.
Mr. Kasich has been more defiant: The Ohio governor, who ran unsuccessfully in 2016, has declined to rule out a 2020 campaign in multiple television interviews, and has indicated to associates that he may run again, even if Mr. Trump seeks another term.
Mr. Kasich, who was a sharp critic of the Republicans’ failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act with deep Medicaid cuts, intends to step up his advocacy by convening a series of policy forums, in Ohio and around the country.
“He’ll continue to speak out and lead on health care and on national security issues, trade policy, economic expansion and poverty,” John Weaver, a political adviser of Mr. Kasich’s, said.
In the wider world of conservative Trump opponents, William Kristol, editor at large of The Weekly Standard, said he had begun informal conversations about creating a “Committee Not to Renominate the President.”
“We need to take one shot at liberating the Republican Party from Trump, and conservatism from Trumpism,” Mr. Kristol said.
It may get worse, said Jay Bergman, an Illinois petroleum executive and a leading Republican donor. Grievous setbacks in the midterm elections of 2018 could bolster challengers in the party.
“If the Republicans have lost a lot of seats in the Congress and they blame Trump for it, then there are going to be people who emerge who are political opportunists,” Mr. Bergman said.
Mr. Pence has been the pacesetter. Though it is customary for vice presidents to keep a full political calendar, he has gone a step further, creating an independent power base, cementing his status as Mr. Trump’s heir apparent and promoting himself as the main conduit between the Republican donor class and the administration.
The vice president created his own political fund-raising committee, Great America Committee, shrugging off warnings from some high-profile Republicans that it would create speculation about his intentions. The group, set up with help from Jack Oliver, a former fund-raiser for George W. Bush, has overshadowed Mr. Trump’s own primary outside political group, America First Action, even raising more in disclosed donations.
Mr. Pence also installed Nick Ayers, a sharp-elbowed political operative, as his new chief of staff last month — a striking departure from vice presidents’ long history of elevating a government veteran to be their top staff member. Mr. Ayers had worked on many campaigns but never in the federal government.
Some in the party’s establishment wing are remarkably open about their wish that Mr. Pence would be the Republican standard-bearer in 2020, Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said.
“For some, it is for ideological reasons, and for others it is for stylistic reasons,” Mr. Dent said, complaining of the “exhausting” amount of “instability, chaos and dysfunction” surrounding Mr. Trump.
Mr. Pence has made no overt efforts to separate himself from the beleaguered president. He has kept up his relentless public praise and even in private is careful to bow to the president.
Mr. Pence’s aides, however, have been less restrained in private, according to two people briefed on the conversations. In a June meeting with Al Hubbard, an Indiana Republican who was a top economic official in Mr. Bush’s White House, an aide to the vice president, Marty Obst, said that they wanted to be prepared to run in case there was an opening in 2020 and that Mr. Pence would need Mr. Hubbard’s help, according to a Republican briefed on the meeting. Reached on the phone, Mr. Hubbard declined to comment.
Mr. Ayers has signaled to multiple major Republican donors that Mr. Pence wants to be ready.
Mr. Obst denied that he and Mr. Ayers had made any private insinuations and called suggestions that the vice president was positioning himself for 2020 “beyond ridiculous.”
For his part, Mr. Pence is methodically establishing his own identity and bestowing personal touches on people who could pay dividends in the future. He not only spoke in June at one of the most important yearly events for Iowa Republicans, Senator Joni Ernst’s pig roast, but he also held a separate, more intimate gathering for donors afterward.
When he arrived in Des Moines on Air Force Two, Mr. Pence was greeted by an Iowan who had complained about his experience with the Affordable Care Act — and who happened to be a member of the state Republican central committee.
The vice president has also turned his residence at the Naval Observatory into a hub for relationship building. In June, he opened the mansion to social conservative activists like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and representatives of the billionaire kingmakers Charles G. and David H. Koch.
At large gatherings for contributors, Mr. Pence keeps a chair free at each table so he can work his way around the room. At smaller events for some of the party’s biggest donors, he lays on the charm. Last month, Mr. Pence hosted the Kentucky coal barons Kelly and Joe Craft, along with the University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach, John Calipari, for a dinner a few hours after Ms. Craft appeared before the Senate for her hearing as nominee to become ambassador to Canada.
Other Republicans eyeing the White House have taken note.
“They see him moving around, having big donors at the house for dinner,” said Charles R. Black Jr., a veteran of Republican presidential politics. “And they’ve got to try to keep up.”
Mr. Cotton, for example, is planning a two-day, $5,000-per-person fund-raiser in New York next month, ostensibly for Senate Republicans (and his own eventual re-election campaign). The gathering will include a dinner and a series of events at the Harvard Club, featuring figures well known in hawkish foreign policy circles such as Stephen Hadley, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser.
Mr. Cotton, 40, a first-term Arkansas senator, made headlines for going to Iowa last year during the campaign. He was back just after the election for a birthday party in Des Moines for former Gov. Terry E. Branstad and returned in May to give the keynote speech at a county Republican dinner in Council Bluffs.
Mr. Sasse, among the sharpest Senate Republican critics of Mr. Trump, has quietly introduced himself to political donors in language that several Republicans have found highly suggestive, describing himself as an independent-minded conservative who happens to caucus with Republicans in the Senate. Advisers to Mr. Sasse, of Nebraska, have discussed creating an advocacy group to help promote his agenda nationally.
He held a private meet-and-greet last month with local Republican leaders in Iowa, where he lamented the plodding pace of Capitol Hill and declined to recant his past criticism of Mr. Trump.
Jennifer Horn, a former chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party who hosted Mr. Sasse in the first primary state last year, said she saw the senator as speaking for conservatives who felt that Republicans in Washington had not been delivering on their promises.
“There are a lot of people in New Hampshire who have developed a lot of respect for him, and I’m one of them,” she said.
James Wegmann, a spokesman for Mr. Sasse, said the only future date that Mr. Sasse had in mind was Nov. 24, 2017, when the University of Iowa meets the University of Nebraska on the football field.
“Huskers-Hawkeyes rematch,” Mr. Wegmann said, “and like every Nebraskan, he’s betting on the side of righteousness.”
Beyond Washington, other up-and-coming Republicans are making moves should there be an opening in 2020. Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations and a former governor of South Carolina, put her longtime pollster on the payroll, has gotten better acquainted with some of New York’s financiers and carved out a far more muscular foreign policy niche than Mr. Trump.
“She sounds more like me than Trump,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican from South Carolina.
Mike Pence has denied a report that he is planning a presidential run in 2020. According to The New York Times, several Republicans are seeking to replace the party’s unpopular public face, Donald Trump.
In a White House statement released Sunday, Mike Pence called a report on his alleged plans to replace US President Donald Trump in 2020 “absurd,” “categorically false,” “disgraceful and offensive.”
The New York Times had detailed apparent Republican efforts to prepare for an aborted Trump presidency, citing the current turmoil around the US chief executive, including investigations into possible links between his 2016 campaign staff and Russia.
On a trip to central and eastern Europe and the Caucasus last week, for example, Pence repeatedly publicly differed from Trump on Russia. The vice president condemned the Kremlin’s presence in Georgia, with which Russia fought a war in 2008, and said ties would not improve until officials in Moscow changed their stance on Ukraine and withdrew support for such countries as Iran, Syria and North Korea.
Last week, Trump reluctantly signed into law a bill for new sanctions against Russia that had overwhelming support in Congress. He said US relations with Russia had fallen to an “all-time” low and blamed lawmakers for it.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also dismissed the report that Republicans would seek to topple their boss, and said Pence would dutifully run alongside Trump once more in 2020.
My picture of the week | The Scaramucci moment
The article suggested that the vice president had become the “pacesetter” among a group of Republican “political opportunists” who had begun preparing to move in should Trump draw blame for any serious losses in 2018’s midterm legislative elections. According to the Times, Pence has created “an independent power base, cementing his status as Mr. Trump’s heir apparent,” and setting up a fundraising body, the Great America Committee, that overshadows the president’s.
The Times reported that Pence had showed his true intentions by appointing the “sharp-elbowed political operative” Nick Ayers – a fresh-faced Republican apparatchik who was once charged with alcohol-related reckless driving – as chief of staff. However, on Twitter, Ayers called the article a “total lie” and “#fakenews.”
In the past, Trump has reportedly chafed at any suggestion that members of his administration might seek to draw greater attention to themselves. Pence, too, seems to have chafed.
“The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration,” Pence said in Sunday’s statement. He added that he would focus all his efforts on seeing Trump re-elected: “Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.”
FIVE FRIENDSHIPS IN POLITICS
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump
It looks like the Russian president and his US counterpart exchanged a friendly handshake during their first meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg. But all is not well between former best buddies Vladimir and Donald. They used to be super-close (too close, some say). Yet now The Donald has signed legislation introducing harsh sanctions against Russia.
US and Russia chief diplomats show ‘readiness’ to talk despite escalating tensions
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Tillerson have met for lengthy talks amidst rising tensions between the two nations. Their meeting follows fresh US sanctions and Russia’s US diplomat expulsion. (06.08.2017)
‘No secrets’ in meetings with ex-US adviser Michael Flynn, says Kislyak
Russia’s former ambassador to the United States has defended his meetings with former US national security adviser Michael Flynn. They are being scrutinized in a probe into alleged Russian meddling in 2016 US elections. (05.08.2017)
Four more years: Trump just latest challenge for Rouhani
In his second presidential term, Hassan Rouhani will need to maintain the international nuclear deal in the face of a belligerent Donald Trump and fend off hard-liners within Iran. The reformer is used to big challenges. (05.08.2017)
Opinion: Scaramucci was a symptom, but President Trump is the problem
Even for the Trump administration the reign of chaos that has engulfed the White House in the past few days is unprecedented. And while Anthony Scaramucci’s exit is a good sign, the core problem remains. (01.08.2017)
US Vice President Pence hires lawyer for Russia probes
US Vice President Mike Pence has hired a lawyer to deal with requests from the special counsel investigating Russian collusion during the 2016 election. Meanwhile, testimony by the US attorney general is under scrutiny. (16.06.2017)
WASHINGTON — All week long, Senate Democrats had quietly groused that Senator John McCain made a stirring return to the Senate after a brain cancer diagnosis, that he preached the virtues of bipartisanship — and that he then backed a Republican-only push to replace the Affordable Care Act.
But early Friday morning, Mr. McCain, showing little sign of his grave illness, strode onto the Senate floor as the vote was being taken to repeal it, and shocked many of his colleagues and the nation. He sought recognition from the vote counters, turned his thumb down, and said “no.” There were gasps and some applause.
He had just derailed the fevered Republican effort to undo the Obama-era health care law.
It was a stunning moment that will be long remembered in the Senate, a flash of the maverick John McCain, unafraid of going his own way despite the pleas of his fellow Republicans. In teaming up with Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who had already opposed the bill, Mr. McCain made good on his earlier promise to help defeat the measure if it didn’t meet his personal test.
No amount of arm-twisting by his peers, Vice President Mike Pence or even President Trump could sway him from the decision that he had telegraphed to some Democrats and Republicans in the anxious buildup to the vote.
Ms. Collins said Mr. McCain told her that he felt compelled to “do the right thing.” It probably didn’t hurt that it was also a measure of cold revenge against Mr. Trump, a man who on the campaign trail in 2015 had mocked Mr. McCain’s ordeal as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Mr. McCain made no mention of that, however, and instead used his time of maximum impact in the spotlight to say that the spectacular collapse of the health bill provided a chance for renewal, an opening to get the Senate out of its dysfunctional and partisan rut.
“The vote last night presents the Senate with an opportunity to start fresh,” Mr. McCain said in a statement on Friday. “I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to trust each other, stop the political gamesmanship, and put the health care needs of the American people first. We can do this.”
His decision to reject the measure represented a remarkable turnaround from Tuesday. Mr. McCain, 80, whose brain cancer had been diagnosed just days earlier, arrived in the Senate to provide the vote Republicans needed to open debate on their jumbled efforts to find a legislative path to repeal the health care bill they had railed against for seven years. Mr. Trump praised Mr. McCain’s courage in returning to the capital.
Leading up to the vote, Mr. McCain, not untypically, had confounded both critics and admirers. His speech Tuesday had the potential to go down as a Senate classic, a call to restore the work-across-the-aisle traditions of the past.
“We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues,” Mr. McCain scolded his colleagues. “We’re getting nothing done, my friends, we’re getting nothing done.”
Mr. McCain’s vote that day left Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, smiling as his sometime foe, sometime friend from Arizona helped rescue the Kentucky Republican’s reputation as a master strategist.
He provided the vote to move the Republican measure forward and seemed to work throughout the week with his constant ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, to explore ways to get the legislation out of the Senate and over to the House as Mr. McConnell so badly wanted.
A hastily scheduled Thursday evening news conference set off alarm bells among Democrats that Mr. McCain was going to back the last-ditch “skinny” repeal effort and sustain the drive to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
But he had also been working back channels with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, about his intentions. A relieved Mr. Schumer praised Mr. McCain after the vote.
“John McCain is a hero and has courage and does the right thing,” Mr. Schumer told reporters. “He is a hero of mine.”
Mr. McConnell was no longer smiling.
“So yes, this is a disappointment,” the majority leader said in an emotional speech after the vote. “A disappointment indeed.”
Other Republicans, while crediting Mr. McCain with a flair for the dramatic, said it was Republican voters who would be left disappointed by Mr. McCain’s act.
“The losers tonight are the people who believed in the democratic process, believe that actually when candidates run and say, ‘I will fight to repeal Obamacare,’ that that actually means they will fight to repeal Obamacare,” said Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who has clashed with Mr. McCain in the past. Mr. McCain was re-elected last year after making the repeal and replacement of the health care law a central element of his campaign.
As a senator from a state with a large population of older Americans, Mr. McCain has long involved himself in health policy, although the fine points are far from his chief area of expertise, military affairs. In this health care fight, Mr. McCain’s resistance appeared to be driven partly by concerns raised by Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona about the potential loss of coverage in the state.
After turning Washington upside down over the last few days, Mr. McCain planned to be in Arizona on Monday for what his office described as a “standard post-surgical regimen of targeted radiation and chemotherapy.” Mr. McCain intends to keep working but does not plan to be back on Capitol Hill before September.
The question now is whether Mr. McCain’s vote will produce the results he wants: a more bipartisan approach to making changes in the health law that both sides acknowledge are needed. Or will it simply produce a stalemate that leads to a failure of the current system and a chorus of “we told you so” from Republicans?
The president made clear his unhappiness and issued a warning of what would come, predicting the current system would implode.
But for now, it was Mr. McCain who had seized the moment and set the course of the Senate.