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New Blow for Trump as Obamacare Repeal Bid Collapses

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  • New Blow for Trump as Obamacare Repeal Bid Collapses

President Donald Trump faced the biggest blow yet to his young presidency as his bid to repeal Obamacare went down in flames at the hands of rebel Republican lawmakers.

Barely two months into his term, Trump was forced to withdraw an embattled Republican health care bill Friday, moments before a vote, leaving his campaign pledge to dismantle his predecessor’s health care reforms unfulfilled.

The stinging defeat showed the limits of Trump’s power to deliver on an ambitious legislative agenda despite Republican control of both houses of Congress.

Already rocked by a string of damaging reversals and controversies, Trump must now consider how to move forward in the face of a fractured, rebellious Congress.

“Trump will have a very hard time dealing with these divides because he does not understand them,” said John Pitney, a professor of American politics at Claremont-McKenna College.

On Trump’s agenda are a major overhaul of the tax system and a bill to upgrade infrastructure like roads and bridges.

“We were very, very close” to securing enough support for the bill, Trump said in the Oval Office.

But with no Democratic backing, “we couldn’t quite get there.”

Trump had thrown his full political weight behind the measure, spending days arm-twisting recalcitrant Republicans, and he declared himself “disappointed” and a “little surprised” by the defeat.

The battle was an eye-opening experience for Trump, a billionaire real estate tycoon who entered the White House with no experience in politics or government, including the delicate navigations of Congress.

The bill’s defeat marked a second major policy setback for the new president, who has seen his attempt to curb travel from Muslim-majority countries twice frozen by the courts.

Instead of projecting humility, Trump went on the offensive Friday, branding Democrats as the real “losers” of the failed repeal bid because “now they own Obamacare. They own it, 100 percent.”

The president met with House Speaker Paul Ryan earlier in the day, then spoke with him by telephone when it was clear the party did not have the votes to get its plan across the finish line.

“I told him that the best thing I think to do is to pull this bill and he agreed with that decision,” Ryan said.

But while Trump was quick to blame Democrats for not giving “a single vote” for his plan, Ryan owned up to the failures.

“I will not sugar coat this. This is a disappointing day for us,” said the top Republican in Congress.

– Start over –

The Trump-backed plan, intended to expand free-market competition in the insurance industry and lower the cost of premiums for most Americans, would also have slashed public assistance to people who have no health coverage through their employer.

Some 14 million people stood to lose their coverage starting next year, according to congressional forecasts.

Basic benefits covered under Obamacare — such as maternity care and emergency room visits — would no longer have been considered essential and required for insurers to provide.

The bill now appears dead, with Republican lawmakers urging a return to the drawing board.

“Clearly, the votes weren’t there,” said Congressman Charlie Dent, one of several moderate House Republicans who expressed concerns over the bill’s impact on poor and elderly Americans.

“So I think it’s important now that we start over, and we do a durable, sustainable health care reform and it be done in a bipartisan way,” he added.

By pulling the bill, Ryan flew in the face of a White House that had declared negotiations over and demanded a vote on Friday.

Trump had put his reputation as a dealmaker on the line with the high-risk vote.

Congressman Mo Brooks, a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus that largely opposed the measure on grounds it was too similar to Obamacare, said he was “pleased as could be that the legislation has failed,” arguing it would have been bad for Americans.

But he refused to place blame on the president.

“I don’t think this reflects on the president in any way, shape or form,” Brooks said.

But some conservative centrists expressed frustration with recalcitrant hardliners.

“The House Freedom Caucus just single-handedly saved #Obamacare,” Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger charged on Twitter.

– ‘Law of the land’ –

It was not clear when Congress would return to health care, as Trump said he would shift quickly toward tax reform, another longstanding goal of Republicans.

“Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced.”

Democrats said they were open to cooperation — provided Republicans wanted to help fix the existing law.

“We’re ready to work with the president,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on CNN.

“Take repeal off the table,” and “we’ll work with them on improving Obamacare.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.

The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.

In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.

SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.

The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.

“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”

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COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.

In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.

According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.

“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”

The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.

“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”

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Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom

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Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.

The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.

He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.

The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.

The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.

“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.

“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.

“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.

“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.

Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.

“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”

He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.

“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.

“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.

“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.

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