Victims' rights groups argue DeVos-backed plan downplays sexual assault at colleges
The Trump administration is finalizing its plan for schools to deal with sexual assault allegations, according to advocacy groups and college officials who have met privately with senior government officials.
The proposal, known as rules for Title IX -- the civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination in a person's education -- is widely expected to limit the scope of inquiries by colleges and universities and make it easier for students accused of misconduct to push back.
Advocacy groups involved in the ongoing discussions said among the provisions they expect to see in the final draft is one that wouldn't require schools to investigate incidents that occur off campus, even if it involves students. Another provision would put schools on the hook to investigate allegations only if they're made to certain designated authorities, such as the school's Title IX coordinator. And the new rules would likely allow for more thorough cross-examinations, possibly requiring that the person making the allegation sit in the same room as the accused.
Cynthia P. Garrett, co-president of a group called "Families Advocating for Campus Equality," said she's been pushing for these changes because they give students accused of misconduct better opportunities to defend themselves.
"I don't want to make it difficult for people who claim to be victims to come forward. But it shouldn't be easy either," she told ABC News. "I think there should be a threshold for evidence or proof before you ruin someone's life."
Garrett, who also works with a similar advocacy group called SAVE, said she met with budget officials last week on the subject, a follow up to a meeting last year with DeVos. In 2017, DeVos convened several "listening sessions" with various stakeholders, including college Title IX officers and victims' rights groups, as well as FACE and SAVE.
Victims' rights advocates argue that DeVos is downplaying the problem of sexual violence on college campuses. They argue the new approach would unfairly tilt investigations in favor of the perpetrator and dramatically reduce the number of women willing to come forward.
"It limits the responsibilities of schools to respond to sexual assault ... and it doesn't take into consideration trauma" of the victim, said Shiwali Patel, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, who up until this summer was working at the Education Department's civil rights office on this issue.
At stake are the billions of dollars a year the federal government gives to schools. To qualify, schools have to meet requirements under Title IX, the 1972 civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination in any education program that receives federal funding. Under Title IX, sexual harassment and sexual assault is a form of unlawful discrimination.
That statistical void has paved the way for both sides to speak about sexual violence in deeply partisan terms.
Last year, DeVos announced plans to replace Obama-era guidance and blamed a "failed system" for the "hundreds upon hundreds of cases" filed with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights.
"Instead of working with schools on behalf of students, the prior administration weaponized the Office for Civil Rights to work against schools and against students," she said.
Helping to lead the effort under DeVos has been Candice Jackson, who wrote a 2005 book detailing assault allegations against former President Bill Clinton. She later swung behind Trump's candidacy despite reports that he faced his own allegations of sexual assault.
Garrett insists her push for new rules isn't partisan. But she argues that Obama-era guidelines were ensnaring "Eagle Scouts" and "highly intelligent" kids, rather than "predators." She also blames what she describes as extreme feminist ideology on college campuses that encourages women to see themselves as victims when, she said, the case probably involves "two drunk kids having sex."
Women's rights advocates including Patel counter that this kind of rhetoric grossly distorts the realities of sexual assault on college campuses.
"The reality of it is that so few false accusations actually occur, and the number of survivors of sexual assault is really high," Patel said. "That's the issue we should be talking about."
Jennifer McCary, Title IX coordinator for Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, which recently hosted a conference on the subject, said she expects every administration to put its stamp on the issue.
But one point she'd like to see addressed is how the Education Department wants schools to respond if students come to them with off-campus allegations of assault -- if the final rules exclude off-campus sites, as expected.
And, she said, there can probably be alternative ways to ensure a person accused of sexual misconduct is given due process without requiring both people sit in a room for a cross-examination.
"We wouldn't want to turn our students away because it didn't happen in our jurisdiction," McCary said. Above all, she added, any regulation "should be supportive of all of our students."
October 11, 2018
Sources: ABC News
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>On Oct. 8 -- two days after Kavanaugh’s confirmation -- Travis County Court-at-Law No. 3 Judge John Lipscombe draped black funeral bunting over the entrance to doors to his courtroom, the paper reported, citing a Twitter photo posted by KVUE-TV</p><p>Lipscombe said the shutdown was in response to Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court despite an allegation of sexual assault. He reportedly notified the court’s defense lawyer a day earlier that he was closing the court to honor survivors of sexual assault. </p><p>The act derailed more than 103 defendants’ schedules and baffled other defense lawyers who said they didn’t receive enough notice. </p><p>Of the 137 cases scheduled that day, 135 were rescheduled for a future date, The Statesman reported. </p><p>Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt criticized Lipscombe decision as unpractical and disruptive. </p><p>“We are public servants, and I believe the best way to protest for public service at the federal level is to provide exemplary public service at the local level. I don’t believe Judge Lipscombe choice meets that standard,” she said. </p><p>Attorney Charlie Bird, who had a client scheduled to appear in Lipscombe court, said the judge’s decision showed a lack of “good judicial temperament.” </p><p>Lipscombe is running unopposed in the November midterm election. He did not respond to The Statesman request for comment. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
rump the presidency, suggesting bright spots for Democrats in places they once saw turning bleaker. </p><p> It is hard to imagine American voters driven to vote one way or the other by the international story this week about the missing American-based Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and his suspected murder in Turkey. </p><p> We see that playing out across the country. The fed-up-with-Washington sentiment has helped propel the astonishing number of candidates this year who are brand new to politics. </p><p> Democrats like their chances of winning back a majority in the House, that much we know, but what happened to the party's dreams of controlling both chambers of Congress? </p><p> A split Congress is still the most-likely scenario, but given the multitude of close Senate votes since President Trump took office, Democrats should be concerned that, if the last-minute embarrassments continue, the GOP's advantage there could get even bigger. </p>
week and charged with leaking “highly sensitive information” about suspects in the high-profile investigation into Russia's meddling in the presidential election, the Justice Department said Wednesday. </p><p> Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), allegedly "betrayed her position of trust” by leaking confidential banking reports on the Russian Embassy and suspects charged in special counsel Robert Muller’s Russian collusion probe, the government said in a statement. </p><p> Banks are required to submit suspicious activity reports with the Treasury Department when they observe transactions that raise questions about possible financial misconduct. </p><p> Edwards, 40, was also accused of unlawfully disclosing confidential financial data on the Russian Embassy and alleged Russian agent Maria Butina, the statement said. </p><p> Investigators said they found evidence indicating that Edwards had leaked “numerous” SARs between October 2017 and the time of her arrest Tuesday. </p><p> “At the time of Edwards’s arrest, she was in possession of a flash drive appearing to be the flash drive on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed SARs, and a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1,” a federal official said in the complaint. </p><p> Authorities say she took photographs of the documents and then leaked it to a reporter. When questioned by law enforcement, officials say Edwards confessed she provided the documents to a reporter via an encrypted application. </p><p> Investigators also connected Edwards to the reporter in question through phone records. Edwards admitted to accessing the SARs, photographing them and sending them to the reporter using an encrypted app, according to the complaint. </p><p> The Justice Department did not release the reporter’s identity, but charging documents listed nearly a dozen articles published by BuzzFeed News over the past year and a half. </p><p> A spokesman for BuzzFeed did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.</p>
nsition period may be extended beyond 2020</p><p>The former minister Nick Boles described any attempt to extend the transition period as a “desperate last move”, and said May was losing the confidence of her party.</p><p>He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday the EU was demanding “humiliating concessions”.</p><p>“It’s a classic of negotiations that she keeps on thinking that one more concession is going to somehow [succeed], with one bound and she’s free, and she’s not going to be free, she’s getting ever more trapped,” he said.</p><p>“I’m afraid she is losing the confidence now of colleagues of all shades of opinion, people who have been supportive of her throughout this process.”</p><p>Leave Means Leave, the pro-Brexit campaign group, released a statement from its co-chair, Richard Tice, accusing May of wanting to remain in the EU.</p><p>“The original transition was an unnecessary trap created by our weak civil servants who cannot be trusted as they don’t want us to leave. It should be cancelled, not extended. It is increasingly clear the PM doesn’t want to leave either,” he said.</p><p>Arriving at the European council in Brussels on Thursday morning, May said an extension of the transition period, by “a matter of months”, might be necessary.</p><p>May said: “The original proposal from the EU was one we could not accept in the UK. It would have created a customs border down the Irish Sea.</p><p>“Earlier in the year we put forward a proposal as to how to deal with this issue; a further idea that has emerged, and it is an idea at this stage, is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months, and it would be for a matter of months.</p><p>“But the point is that this would not be expected to be used because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by December 2020.”</p><p>But the senior Conservative acknowledged that staying in the EU’s single market and customs union during 2021 could have financial implications, in the form of further cash contributions made by the UK to Brussels’ coffers.</p><p>When asked whether it would cost the UK billions of pounds, Lidington said he did not accept that. “That would be one of the things that would be teased out in the negotiations,” adding: “There may be other approaches we can take.”</p><p>Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said the cost to the UK taxpayer of extending the transition period would only be settled once it was clear how much longer the country would remain under EU laws.</p><p>He said: “[An extension] is one of the options. I cannot tell you if it is the only way.”</p><p>“We are at the beginning of having news of a new idea. We don’t speak about the bill. The bill is at at the end ... We know that Theresa May is in a tricky situation. She has huge pressure at Westminster.”</p><p>Many in Brussels believe May has been hampered by the risk that she could lose key votes on the budget – and potentially then face a vote of no confidence – if the DUP believes she is about to sign up to a compromise on the Irish border they could not accept.</p><p>Anand Menon, director of the thinktank UK in a Changing Europe, said it had long been evident the future trading relationship could not be settled by the end of 2020; but it would be much better for May to extend the article 50 negotiating period.</p><p>“This debate is getting farcical: she keeps calling it an implementation phase, but it’s blatantly obvious there’s nothing to implement,” he said.</p><p>He added: “Jacob Rees-Mogg is right; it is a vassal state thing – we’re going to be under these rules and it’s going to cost us loads of money. The obvious thing to do would be to extend the article 50 period – but politically you can’t call a spade a spade.”</p>
by Sky News, with an aide telling our reporter to "go away".</p><p>John Bercow has refused to confirm whether he will quit as Speaker next summer.</p><p>The independent investigation found a culture of "deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence" had allowed misconduct of staff to thrive.</p><p>Thousands have signed our petition for an Independent Leaders' Commission to organise election debates - have you?</p><p>Mr Bercow spoke at the LGBT website Pink News awards on Wednesday, calling on people to "treat everybody equally, fairly, decently and with respect".</p><p>Asked by Sky News to confirm whether he would resign next summer, the speaker waved but remained silent.</p><p>An aide intervened, knocking the camera and said "no - go away, go away".</p><p>Mr Bercow did get a staunch defence from Emily Thornberry, Labour's shadow foreign secretary.</p><p>She told Sky News on Monday: "I think this is absolutely not the time to be changing Speaker.</p><p>"We don't know, for example, with regard to Brexit, as to what is going to happen."</p><p>Following a backlash, Sky News asked Ms Thornberry at the Pink News awards if she regretted her comments.</p><p>"I think about 12 years ago I was looking for a Conservative MP to help me with a campaign I was doing to change the law with regards to lesbian mothers and the only Tory I could find was John Bercow."</p><p>A spokesperson for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "It's not Jeremy's view, and it's not the view of the Labour leadership."</p><p>The Times reported in June that "friends" of Mr Bercow had been told he would step down as speaker in summer 2019.</p><p>Despite a previous promise to only serve nine years when he was first elected in 2009, they said the Speaker wanted to stay on to see through Brexit.</p><p>Maria Miller, chair of the Commons equalities committee, said Mr Bercow "absolutely" needed to resign following the scandal, calling for a "root and branch" change of management.</p>
rump has been spending a remarkable amount of time with reporters lately. In fact, ABC News can find no comparable time period when a president of the United States has taken more questions from the news media than Donald Trump has over the past 11 days. </p><p> "He has no fear of talking to the media," a senior administration official, who asked to be quoted anonymously, told ABC News. "He relishes it and he has instructed his staff he wants to do it more." </p><p> ABC News estimates the president has taken nearly 300 questions from reporters in the past 11-day span alone. </p><p> Some of these media engagements have been extensive – including a 43-minute interview with Fox & Friends and a sit-down interview with 60 minutes. At an impromptu interview with Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine, the president also brought in chief of staff, the vice president and the secretary of state. </p><p> When the president invited reporters into the Oval Office for the announcement of Nikki Haley's coming departure as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, he took 18 questions on wide range of questions from North Korea to Jamal Khashoggi to Hillary Clinton's comments on Justice Kavanaugh. </p><p> After he answered the 18th question, the president looked at the assembled press and asked, "Any other questions?" There were none. John Roberts of Fox News later explained he had more questions, but needed to get outside for a live shot. </p><p> The president has been so accessible to the news media lately that reporters haven’t complained much that the White House press briefing seems on the verge of going extinct (White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has only briefed twice since Labor Day). </p><p> Rutgers History and Media Professor David Greenberg told ABC News that while the president may seem more eager than ever to take on the role as his administration’s key messenger, it risks leaving a void in what he considers one of the two main functions of any transparent White House press shop. </p><p> "One is to put out the administration’s line. The daily briefings have become a mainstay in performing this function. The other key role is to field queries from the White House press corps, which is enormous,” Greenberg said. “If Trump is, for now, taking over the former role, the press office still has the second role to perform, which is arguably more important." </p><p> "You guys don’t want to hear from us, you want to hear from him," explained the White House official who asked to remain anonymous. </p><p> To many reporters, the disappearing press briefing remains a concern, but, the official has a point: Sanders’ boss has been taking so many questions from reporters, it's not clear there's much left for her to say.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>'MediaBuzz' host Howard Kurtz weighs in on the AP's misleading headline stating: 'Trump Tells AP He Won’t Accept Blame If GOP Loses House.'</p><p>As President Trump continues his midterm media blitz, he is sharpening his language against the press even as some of its practitioners ramp up their criticism of his claims.</p><p>This was inevitable, given the sheer volume of words that the president is putting out there and the journalistic desire to fact-check the hell out of him.</p><p>In one dispute, I have to say, Trump is basically right.</p><p>While he is making this FBN week, with back-to-back sessions with Stuart Varney and Trish Regan of Fox Business Network, Trump also did a lengthy interview with the AP. It was a solid and substantive sitdown. But then the Associated Press slapped this headline on the story: </p><p>"Trump Tells AP He Won't Accept Blame If GOP Loses House."</p><p>That's pretty eye-catching, a preemptive alibi less than three weeks before the midterms. It got picked up by Drudge and a whole lot of other places. But it doesn't match what Trump said.</p><p>Asked if he would accept any responsibility if the Democrats capture the House, the president responded:</p><p>"No, I think I'm helping people. They would say that in the old days that if you got the support of a president or if you've got the support of somebody it would be nice to have, but it meant nothing, zero. Like literally zero. Some of the people I've endorsed have gone up 40 and 50 points just on the endorsement."</p><p>Come on: "No, I think I'm helping people" is not even close to "I won't accept responsibility if my party gets shellacked." Trump didn't even address the possibility of the GOP losing the House. That's the wire-service equivalent of clickbait. (Though I'd like to see any candidate who went up 50 points [!] based on a Trumpian endorsement.)</p><p>The president called the headline "FAKE NEWS" on Twitter, and told Varney Tuesday: "I get such phony news. Everything's a fake. Even yesterday I gave an interview to AP and the headline was totally different from everything I said. The headline was this terrible headline, everything else was perfect."</p><p>Trump is on shakier ground with his response about the budget deficit. It's ballooned to $779 billion, a 17 percent jump and the highest in six years. The administration's own projections say the deficit will top a trillion dollars in 2020. And while the deficit has faded as a political issue — used mainly by the out party to bash the in party — that tide of red ink is basically unsustainable.</p><p>Trump told the AP he had "no choice" because "I had to take care of our military." He said the administration also had to deal with "a tremendous number of hurricanes and fires" and that "now we're going to start bringing numbers down."</p><p>First, boosting spending on defense is a choice — a defensible choice, to be sure — but a political decision that adds to the deficit. And that's especially true if you simultaneously slash corporate and individual taxes by $1.5 trillion. The notion that the tax cuts would pay for themselves has not been proven true, at least so far.</p><p>Trump asked his Cabinet members yesterday to come back with 5 percent budget cuts, but made clear that the Pentagon would barely be touched, if at all. So having cut taxes and raised defense, he will now go after domestic spending — precisely the argument the two parties have been having for decades.</p><p>"Sir, as the president of the United States, is it appropriate to call a woman, and even one who is making serious allegations and who you are in litigation against, to call her a horseface?"</p><p>Trump's response: "You know what? You can take it any way you want."</p><p>"Did you see the letter?" Trump asked. "She put out a letter. I had nothing to do with her. So she can lie and she can do whatever she wants to do. She can hire a phony lawyer. You take a look at this guy, a stone-cold loser. Take a look at his past. They can say anything about me. I'm just saying, I just speak for myself. You take a look, and you make your own determination."</p><p>I'm taking a look, and I think Trump does this deliberately. He knows full well the press and the left will go nuts over his denigrating another woman's looks, but he also knows that will spark days of media debate, put the focus on his winning the porn star's suit, and perhaps detract from the confrontation with Saudi Arabia.</p><p>So the criticism is justified, but where's the media and liberal outrage over the rapper T.I.?</p><p>This guy posted a video of himself in the Oval Office with a Melania look-alike who walks in, starts stripping (it's R-rated) and then begins attending to T.I. It is beyond demeaning.</p><p>Melania spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham called it "disrespectful and disgusting to portray her this way simply because of politics. These kinds of vulgar attacks only further the divisiveness and bias in our country -- it needs to stop."</p><p>This is the first lady we're talking about. So anyone who's disgusted by the slam against Stormy should find this mocking of Melania equally gross.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
market and customs union for more than five years after the Brexit vote.</p><p>Theresa May is facing a backlash from Brexiteers for indicating the UK could extend the Brexit transition period to the end of 2021.</p><p>EU officials said the prime minister had suggested she was "ready to consider" extending Britain's transition out of the European Union for a further year to allow more time to resolve the impasse over the problem of the Irish border.</p><p>It would mean the UK remaining within the single market and customs union and subject to EU rules and regulations for almost three years after the official date of Brexit in March 2019, and more than five years after the referendum vote to leave the bloc.</p><p>Angry Brexiteers said the concession would delay when the UK could sign new trade deals around the world and mean taxpayers paying billions of pounds more in additional contributions to the EU.</p><p>Thousands have signed our petition for an Independent Leaders' Commission to organise election debates - have you?</p><p>Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "Mrs May's acceptance of an extension to the transition period will take us to the next general election which may mean we never leave at all."</p><p>Tory MP Nadine Dorries repeated her call for former Brexit secretary David Davis to replace Mrs May as leader.</p><p>"We cannot find the money to fund our frontline police properly, we cannot find the £2bn for the vulnerable on Universal Credit, but we can mysteriously find billions to bung to the EU for the unnecessary extra year Clegg and Blair asked Barnier for to waylay Brexit," said Ms Dorries.</p><p>Mr Davis's former chief of staff Stewart Jackson asked: "If you can't - or in the EU's case won't - resolve the backstop issue now because it's an issue of principle than why will it take another three years to resolve it? Will it not be an issue of principle once we have coughed up billions more in UK taxpayers' cash?"</p><p>Mrs May has urged "courage, trust and leadership on both sides" in her speech to EU leaders at a crunch summit in Brussels.</p><p>With just 160 days to go to the official date of Brexit, Mrs May urged the EU27 to find a "creative" way out of the current dilemma.</p><p>UK officials stressed that the Prime Minister was not proposing any extension to the period already agreed.</p><p>This week's summit had been billed as "the moment of truth" when agreement was needed to allow time for ratification in the Westminster and European parliaments.</p><p>But Mrs May did not come forward with new "concrete proposals" on the border issue, which European Council president Donald Tusk said were needed to break the deadlock.</p><p>As he arrived for the Brussels meeting, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had said "we need time, we need much more time" for talks, vowing to work "calmly and patiently" for a deal in the coming weeks.</p><p>Negotiations are stuck over the issue of a "backstop" to keep open the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland until a wider trade deal can be signed that avoids the need for frontier checks.</p><p>Britain has proposed staying temporarily aligned to the EU's customs rules, but the bloc wants this to have no end date - something Brexiteers will not accept.</p><p>The EU is also insisting on its own "backstop" which would see Northern Ireland alone stay aligned with the bloc's customs union and single market, which the UK has rejected.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>President Trump: White House counsel Don McGahn to leave after Kavanaugh confirmation vote.</p><p>A key Trump administration official formally resigned Wednesday, concluding a 21-month tenure in which he played a key role in some of the president’s most significant accomplishments, a White House official confirmed to The Associated Press. </p><p>Don McGahn, 50, served as White House counsel to President Donald Trump and was seen as instrumental in implementing the administration’s conservative policies. </p><p>Yet McGahn’s role in the White House was complicated by his being a chief witness in Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice. </p><p>News of McGahn’s departure was first reported by Fox News earlier this summer after he expressed his desire to leave the White House. Trump tweeted in August that McGahn would be stepping down after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. </p><p>The two men reportedly had a final farewell chat on Wednesday. </p><p>The president told The Associated Press that Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone will be his new counsel.</p><p>Should Democrats retake the House of Representatives, the White House counsel would bear the brunt of congressional subpoenas and investigations, according to The Times.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>White House chipping away at the Affordable Care Act; correspondent Peter Doocy looks at the changes being made to the system.</p><p>Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Wednesday that Republicans would take another stab at repealing the Affordable Care Act after the midterms, saying in an interview that "we’re not satisfied with the way ObamaCare is working.”</p><p>McConnell, who in the past two years has overseen the appointment of a record-setting number of federal judges and justices, and the passage of a broad tax reform bill, acknowledged that Republicans' failed effort to repeal ObamaCare in 2017 remained a major "disappointment" of his tenure.</p><p>ObamaCare has emerged as a major issue in several swing-state races. In Missouri, for example, Fox News polling shows that incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Josh Hawley are neck-and-neck -- and health care could ultimately decide the winner.</p><p>"Josh Hawley decided to use your taxpayer dollars to file a lawsuit that would take away important prescription drug coverage for seniors through Medicare and end all of the consumer protections under the ACA — including protections for Missourians with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, cancer or diabetes," McCaskill wrote in an op-ed earlier this year, referring to a lawsuit Hawley signed onto that would legally invalidate ObamaCare.</p><p>Even Republicans who have said they want to get rid of the Obama health care plan have suggested they want to find a way to keep its ban on insurers denying coverages based on pre-existing conditions -- which Democrats have hammered as a fundamental inconsistency adopted for naked political convenience.</p><p>“Entitlements are the long-term drivers of the debt," McConnell told Reuters.</p><p>"Entitlements are the long-term drivers of the debt."</p><p>Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, sought to use McConnell's remarks to rally the Democratic base with just weeks to go before the midterms.</p><p>“If Republicans retain the Senate, they will do everything they can to take away families’ health care and raise their costs,” Schumer said in a statement. “Americans should take Senator McConnell at his word.”</p><p>Democrats have argued that Republicans’ whittling away of ObamaCare has resulted in escalating premium costs.</p><p>The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said ObamaCare premiums are projected to increase next year by an average 15 percent, in part because of the Republican-led repeal of the law’s individual mandate. The mandate imposed a tax penalty on Americans who failed to buy health insurance.</p><p>Last summer, the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically arrived on the Senate floor and gave a thumbs down on a vote to repeal ObamaCare, decisively killing the measure.</p><p>President Trump fiercely criticized McCain for months afterward, even as the senator's health was failing. McCain remained a senator until his death from brain cancer in August.</p><p>"He campaigned on repealing and replace, we had all the votes, and perhaps he was grandstanding, who knows what he was doing? But you know what? He said, ‘No, no,'" Trump said at a rally earlier his year. "Everybody said: ‘What the hell happened?’ He’s been campaigning for eight years — repeal and replace. And he didn’t do that.”</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>