Orange County Rep. Ed Royce was noncommittal about his stance on the controversial Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill designed to roll back provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
“I have not looked at the details in it,” Royce said as he arrived at an event at his Yorba Linda campaign office. “We’ll see if something passes out of the Senate.”
California’s congressional Republicans have stayed mum on the bill so far. An expected vote on the measure in the Senate next week could be stymied by Sen. John McCain’s announcement Friday that he would not support the bill.
Asked about President Trump’s announcement that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed young people who came to the country illegally as children to stay and work, Royce said he would try to “work out a solution in tandem with border security.”
Royce addressed several dozen volunteers at his campaign headquarters Saturday afternoon.
About 40 volunteers showed up to knock on doors and make phone calls for his reelection campaign. He already has drawn more than half a dozen challengers as Democrats attempt to reclaim the House. The Royce campaign office has been up and running for a couple of months.
It’s rare for a congressional incumbent to begin campaigning so early in an off-year, but Royce is one of nine California Republicans deemed potentially vulnerable in 2018.
Earlier in the day, several dozen protesters showed up to picket outside and protest Royce’s vote to repeal Obamacare earlier this year.
One of the protesters returned hours later, when Royce showed up at the office. She also asked about his position on the Graham-Cassidy bill.
“We’re going to see what legislation comes out,” Royce told her.
California’s chief elections officer said U.S. government officials believe Russian hackers tried to find weaknesses in the state’s election website during the 2016 campaign, but that there’s no evidence their effort was successful.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the Department of Homeland Security only told him on Friday of last year’s attempt. He described the attack as a “scanning” of the state’s website in hopes of finding weaknesses in its computer network.
“Our office actively monitors scanning activity as part of our routine cybersecurity protocols,” Padilla said in a statement. “We have no information or evidence that our systems have been breached in any way or that any voter information was compromised.”
Those involved were “Russian cyber actors” according to Padilla’s description of information he received from federal officials. In June, a top federal official told the Senate Intelligence Committee that systems in 21 states were believed to have been scoured by cyberattackers.
The election website, www.sos.ca.gov, contains public information about voting procedures as well as data on past election results and current issues. More sensitive data, including the electronic files of some 17 million registered voters, are not included on the website.
A leaked National Security Agency document earlier this year outlined a Russian effort to hack into devices made by a Florida-based voting software company. One California county, Humboldt, used the company’s software, but did not find any evidence of tampering.
Padilla, a frequent critic of President Trump’s special panel investigating the potential of voter fraud, said federal officials should have notified him much earlier of the attempted breach.
“The practice of withholding critical information from elections officials is a detriment to the security of our elections and our democracy,” he said.
Supporters of a measure to establish single-payer healthcare in California were thrilled by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s embrace of their bill on Friday, but a rival gubernatorial campaign was less impressed with his position.
A spokesman for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa accused the lieutenant governor of flip-flopping because after Newsom was asked if he explicitly endorsed the legislation — Senate Bill 562 — he responded that he endorsed “getting this debate going again.”
“This is an outrageous parsing of words when millions of people are at risk of losing their healthcare,” Villaraigosa spokesman Luis Vizcaino said in a statement.
“It is a yes or no question, lieutenant governor. Are you for SB 562 or not? The nurses and California voters deserve the truth,” Vizcaino added.
The question of backing SB 562 is thorny since it was shelved earlier this year after Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) called it “woefully incomplete.” Backers have said they’d be willing to make changes to the measure, but the contours of those proposed changes have not been made public.
Vizcaino said Villaraigosa “has always supported universal healthcare and the concept of single payer,” but agreed with Speaker Rendon that the bill couldn’t be sent to the governor without a funding plan.
Speaking to reporters, Newsom said he saw a single-payer system in which the government covers healthcare costs as the best way to achieve universal coverage and said he would be “actively engaged in designing and developing it” if SB 562 does not pass next year.
RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Assn./National Nurses United, said she saw Newsom’s remarks as a clear endorsement of their measure and a stance she said was not surprising.
“We always knew Gavin would support our bill,” DeMoro said.
She lambasted Villaraigosa — who does not support SB 562 — for criticizing Newsom, whom her group endorsed nearly two years ago.
“I want Villaraigosa to explain to the Latino community why he doesn’t think they should have … comprehensive healthcare,” she said. “Villaraigosa’s being disingenuous. He knows better. He’s just politically posturing trying to find a wedge issue and he knows better.”
4:32 p.m.: This post was updated with an additional statement from Villaraigosa’s spokesperson on the former L.A. mayor’s support for universal healthcare.
Sen. Bernie Sanders headed west to drum up support for his recently unveiled “Medicare for All” proposal Friday, but first trained his sights on the Obamacare repeal bill currently gripping Congress.
Sanders (I-Vt.), whose speech was the cornerstone of a California Nurses Assn. gathering in San Francisco, blasted the Republican plan led by Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as “horrific legislation.”
“How cruel, how immoral it is, to say to those millions of Americans, we are going to take away that health insurance that keeps you alive,” Sanders said.
Sen. John McCain announced on Friday he could not support the measure, dealing the GOP plan a blow. Sanders thanked McCain for his stance, prompting the liberal crowd to cheer the Arizona Republican.
Some Democrats had worried that Sanders’ push for his single-payer plan could distract from efforts to oppose the repeal bill. But the senator was explicit in his appeal to the approximately 2,000 supporters in attendance to focus their energy on defeating the repeal measure.
“Our job is to continue to make sure the Republicans do not get the 50 votes they need … I beg of you, please, do everything you can to stop the bill,” he said.
Still, the crux…