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WASHINGTON – The chairs of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said even though they would prefer the appointment of a special counsel to investigate potential DoJ abuses they are nevertheless pleased with the appointment of a U.S. attorney.
“While we continue to believe the appointment of a second Special Counsel is necessary, this is a step in the right direction,” Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement on Thursday evening. “We expect that U.S. Attorney Huber, given his reputation, will conduct an independent and thorough investigation. Such an investigation is critical to restoring the reputation of both the Bureau and DOJ in the eyes of the American people.”
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a letter to congressional Republicans that he appointed Utah U.S. Attorney John W. Huber to review the department’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe and alleged connections between the Clinton Foundation and an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia.
Last year, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller III as special counsel in the investigation into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Sessions recused himself from the probe following reports that he had twice met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.
Many Republicans claim the FBI and DoJ have demonstrated bias against the Trump administration and that Hillary Clinton was given special treatment during the investigation into her use of private email server while Secretary of State.
A major point of contention in the request for a review centers around alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
WASHINGTON- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in a Wednesday morning tweet announced that later today he will introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Yesterday, I joined a bipartisan group of Members of Congress at the White House to engage w/ @POTUS on the way forward on immigration reform and border security. We also discussed legislation I'll be introducing in the House today w/ @RepMcCaul @Raul_Labrador @RepMcSally. pic.twitter.com/cklCgxYTly
— Bob Goodlatte (@RepGoodlatte) January 10, 2018
Goodlatte and fellow GOP co-sponsors Reps. Michael McCaul (Texas), Raul Labrador (Idaho), and Martha McSally (Ariz.) teased the legislation in a Tuesday Wall Street Journal op-ed.
The legislation, according to the Journal article, would allocate funds for the construction of a wall along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border as well provide money for technological advances designed to enhance security. Funds for 10,000 additional border and customs patrol officers also would be provided.
The legislation seeks to end chain-migration and the diversity lottery. The Department of Justice would be authorized to withhold grants from jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The legislation would allow recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) to apply for three-year renewable status.
Goodlatte was included Tuesday’s bipartisan-bicameral White House meeting with President Donald Trump in which lawmakers discussed a path forward on DACA.
Trump during the meeting referenced Goodlatte’s bill and suggested that the administration favorably views the measure.
The legislation reportedly has the backing of House GOP leaders.
The DACA program expires on March 5.
Several DACA bills are under consideration.
The debate over DACA comes as lawmakers are attempting to negotiate a comprehensive budget agreement. The government will run out of money at 11:59:59 p.m. EST on Jan. 19 if Congress does not pass some sort of spending bill. Many Democrats have said they will not vote for a spending bill that does not include a DACA fix.
Republican congressional leaders have said DACA should be kept separate from appropriations.
WASHINGTON— Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announced Thursday that he will not be seeking re-election in 2018.
In a statement, Goodlatte explained that he is coordinating his departure with the end of his term as chair.
“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte said.
Goodlatte noted that while he will be leaving, he intends to put the remainder of his time to good use in helping his colleagues fulfill his party’s agenda, including on criminal justice reform, immigration, tax reform and rolling back the Affordable Care Act.
“I look forward to working with the House Leadership, the Senate, and President Trump in bringing real conservative change to our country,” Goodlatte said.
Goodlatte joined the House in 1993.
He is the 23rd Republican member of the lower chamber to announce that he will not be running, coming on the heels of
By Andres Del Aguila
WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday raised concerns that groups that oppose Israel contribute to the steep rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses across the United States.
“I’m concerned about the so-called BDS movement – an effort that is boycott, divestment and sanctions seeks to end international support of Israel,” Goodlatte said during a House Judiciary hearing to examine the rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses. “I will do everything that I can to ensure that [the American and Israel] relationship remains strong. There are those who disagree in various ways of course, including students, faculty and administrators on college campuses.”
The BDS movement is a global campaign led by Palestinians “that works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law,” according to the website BDSmovement.net
Tuesday’s hearing was in response to an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) audit of anti-Semitic incidents released Thursday that shows a 67 percent increase this year. The ADL discovered 1,299 incidents across the U.S., and a “disturbingly high number” occurred at college campuses.
The audit includes criminal and non-criminal acts such as harassment, intimidation, hate propaganda, threats and slurs. The ADL found a spike after the August “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists clashed with counter- protesters.
ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt also placed the blame on “radical left-wing” groups.
“Neither side of the political spectrum is exempt from intolerance,” he said. “We’ve seen a rise of anti-Semitic rhetoric from a radical left-wing viewpoint as well, one often rooted in extremely hostile views on Israel that can cross the line to anti-Semitism.”
Greenblatt added that criticism of Israel’s government does not constitute anti-Semitism but that radical groups on college campuses can create a hostile environment for Jewish students.
The ADL also urged the House to pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which would provide the Department of Education with a clear definition of anti-Semitism in order to assess if a violation of Title VI was committed with anti-Semitic intent.
Anti-Semitism is discrimination “based on an individual’s actual or perceived shared Jewish ancestry or Jewish ethnic characteristics,” according to the bill.
The Senate passed the bill with unanimous consent in December 2016.
Barry Trachtenberg, a scholar of Jewish history at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, warned against the “well-intentioned” bill.
“Attempts to legislate speech that is perceived as anti-Semitic, while seemingly well-intentioned, are in fact efforts to suppress ongoing campus discussions regarding the State of Israel and its supporters…,” Trachtenberg said. “They risk weakening the academic freedom of students and faculty who engage in criticism of Israel out of concerns for human rights and human dignity.”
He added: “Such restrictions threaten to exacerbate anti-Semitism on campus by perpetuating the long-standing myths that Jews are exceptional people who require special laws and regulations.”
WASHINGTON – House Republicans proposed legislation Tuesday to appoint a second special counsel to investigate claims that the FBI and DoJ have abused their authority in the Trump-Russia probe.
“In just the past few days we learned that the DoJ, FBI, or both, appear to have planted at least one person into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to infiltrate and surveil the campaign,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said at a news conference accompanied by the bill’s 19 co-sponsors. “This action alone reminds of us of just how necessary this resolution is as well as the appointment of a second special counsel.”
“It is the intent of all the co-signers of this resolution to make a request to our leadership to bring this resolution to the House floor to appoint a second special counsel,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said. “It is also the position of many in this group that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions should re-look at his decision not to appoint a second special counsel.”
Republicans have said Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is not an honest broker and that his investigative team includes many Democrats and Hillary Clinton loyalists. Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year to investigate potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
The legislation requires the second special counsel to look into the decision not to charge Hillary Clinton in the Clinton email probe as well as alleged links between the Clinton Foundation and an Obama-era uranium deal with Russia.
The legislation is unlikely to progress as it does not have the support of House GOP leaders.
Pundits have said the mere introduction of the legislation may ignite enthusiasm among Republican primary voters, many of whom believe the Mueller probe is a political ploy to undermine President Trump.
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Friday rejected a Republican-backed $868 billion farm bill.
The lower chamber defeated the measure in a 213-198 vote. All Democrats voted no as did 30 Republicans.
The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 would have made large cuts to the food stamp program. It would have required able-bodied-adults aged 18-59 to either be employed or receive employment training for at least 20 hours per week to receive food stamps.
Throughout the week passage was in doubt.
Democrats railed against the food stamp cuts as did some moderate Republicans.
Some Republicans and Democrats who represent rural states expressed concern that the $26 billion cut to commodity crops would hurt farmers.
The defeat of an amendment to weaken the U.S. Sugar Program, which provides subsidies to help domestic crops sell above their market value, did not deliver the additional votes Republican leaders had hoped for.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus followed through with a threat to withhold their votes until GOP leaders agreed to hold a vote on a hard-line immigration bill. A reported promise to hold the vote in June did not assuage the group.
Democrats celebrated the bill’s defeat.
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) May 18, 2018
Proud of my colleagues for stopping the #GOPFarmBill, which just failed in the House 198 to 213. I hope the #GOP will now work with us on a bipartisan Farm bill that protects America’s working families and children. #ProtectSNAP #HandsOffSNAP
— James E. Clyburn (@Clyburn) May 18, 2018
The Senate is considering a farm bill that appears to have bipartisan support.
WASHINGTON – Former FBI Director James Comey’s memos contradict claims that President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, according to three House Republicans.
“Former Director Comey’s memos show the President made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a joint statement on Thursday evening. “The memos also made clear the ‘cloud’ President Trump wanted lifted was not the Russian interference in the 2016 election cloud, rather it was the salacious, unsubstantiated allegations related to personal conduct leveled in the dossier.”
Comey told Congress last year that he leaked the existence of the memos in hopes of convincing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to probe potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Days after the leak Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller III to probe the matter.
The memos detail several conversations between Trump and Comey that took place during the transition period and the president’s first three months in office. Trump fired Comey during his fourth month in office.
The center of contention focuses around the FBI’s investigation into former White House National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn was fired in Feb. 2017 following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador during the transition period. Flynn recently pleaded guilty to lying to investigators.
Comey told Congress last year that Trump wanted the FBI to drop its investigation into Flynn. Comey’s recently released book further elaborates on the reported Feb. 2017 Oval Office conversation. It is unclear if Comey’s leak or the publication of the book would constitute a breach of classified information.
The declassified memos show Trump expressing concern over Flynn’s activities, at one point saying the former lieutenant general “has serious judgment issues.” The memos show former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus inquiring about whether the FBI sought a FISA warrant to surveil Flynn.
The memos show Trump expressing concern over Russian election meddling. The memos also go into detail about an encounter Trump allegedly had had with Russian prostitutes in Moscow in 2013, which the president denied ever happened.
The memos show Trump telling Comey that Russian president Vladimir Putin had relayed to him that Russia has “some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.”
The memos show Trump shortly before Comey’s firing subtly trying to obtain a pledge of loyalty: “I have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know.” Comey said he viewed the conversation through the prism of a pre-inauguration encounter with Trump in which the pledge was more directly sought. In that encounter Comey said he responded to Trump by saying he would pledge “honesty.” Trump then replied “honest loyalty,” according to Comey.
WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives on Thursday evening rejected a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited the government from spending more money than it collects in revenue.
The lower chamber defeated the measure in a 233-184 vote. Two-hundred-seventy-eight votes were needed to secure the required two-thirds majority.
Under the legislation a three-fifths vote in both the House and Senate would have been required to bust spending caps or raise the debt ceiling. The legislation permitted a waiver in times of armed conflict.
The failed vote comes two months after Congress approved legislation that increases defense and domestic spending by $300 billion for two years and suspends the debt ceiling through March 2019.
Even if the measure passed the House the prospects of it becoming law were considered very slim as adoption would have required the support of two-thirds of the Senate as well as ratification by 38 states.
Democrats argued that the amendment was a Republican attempt to roll back projected deficits from $1.5 trillion tax reform bill passed last year and the $3.1 trillion omnibus spending bill passed last month. Democrats said the amendment would have harmed people who are dependent on social safety-net programs as the legislation made significant cuts in order to achieve a balanced budget.
On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that projected U.S. economic growth will continue to rapidly ascend in 2018 and 2019 but will gradually slow down in the ensuing years of the next decade. The report projected that by 2028 the federal deficit will rise to such an extent that the federal debt will approach 100 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The deficit grows when the government spends more money than it collects in revenue, which in turn exacerbates the debt.
The U.S. is more than $21 trillion in debt.
Congress has not passed a balanced budget since the Clinton administration.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has set a modern White House record for the high staff turnover in his tumultuous administration — 34 percent, higher than any White House in decades, according to The New York Times.
Trump is on his second press secretary, second national security adviser, and third deputy national security adviser. Five different people have held the job of communications director. Trump’s chief strategist, health secretary, his original private legal team — all gone. He is on his second chief of staff, John Kelly — and there is some question whether a third may be in the offing.
Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a Brookings Institution expert on White House turnover, says the Trump administration has “vacancies on top of vacancies.” Experts say that, like a winning sports team, new members must stay long enough to jell into an effective working group.
But there isn’t “a huge appetite for many Republicans to explore jobs opportunities” in the Trump administration, according to Ryan Williams, a former spokesperson for Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee.
Where are the ‘best’ staffers Trump promised?
President Trump boasted on the campaign trail that his White House team would feature the “best people in the world.”
But his claim is being undercut by revelations that 30 to 40 people in the White House have yet to secure permanent security clearances a year into the administration and could potentially be unsuited to such high-level jobs, according to CNN.
The extent of the backlog coincides with uproar over the departure of White House aide Rob Porter, who was confined to an interim security clearance, after two ex-wives told the FBI he abused them.
The episode again raises the issue of whether some of Trump’s picks for key White House jobs — including his son-in-law and foreign policy fixer Jared Kushner, can be trusted to deal with highly classified information.
Gunmaker Remington to file for bankruptcy
Remington, one of the oldest and most well-known gun companies in the world, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to USA Today.
The plan would allow Remington Outdoor Company to stay in business while restructuring its debt. The plan allows for Remington to reduce its debt by $700 million and contributes $145 million of new capital into its subsidiaries, according to the company.
Remington said in a statement that its operations “will not be disrupted by the restructuring process.”
“Payments to trade partners, employee wages and other benefits, support for customers, and an ongoing high level of service to consumers will continue without interruption,” it said.
Remington is owned by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus will give up that ownership once restructuring is complete.
Trump administration to give a box of food to food-stamp recipients
The Trump administration plans to replace nearly half of poor Americans’ monthly cash benefits with a box of food. The plan would affect households that receive at least $90 a month in food stamps, or roughly 38 million people, according to CNN.
Instead of receiving all their food-stamp funds, households would get a box of food that the government describes as nutritious and 100 percent grown or produced in the U.S.
Called USDA America’s Harvest Box, the box would contain items such as shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. The box would be valued at about half of the current Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient’s monthly benefit. The remainder of their benefits would be given to them on electronic benefit cards, as before.
Part of the president’s fiscal 2019 budget blueprint, the idea immediately sparked concerns and questions among consumer advocates and food retailers. They feared it would upend a much-needed benefit for more than 80 percent of those in the program.
Amazon lays off 100s of employees
Amazon is laying off hundreds of employees, CNN reports.
The majority of the layoffs are affecting the company’s Seattle headquarters, but some global teams may be affected as well, though the company isn’t reducing its overall headcount.
It currently has 3,900 open corporate job listings in Seattle and 12,000 open positions worldwide, which point to the company’s “aggressive” hiring plans. Amazon says it added 130,000 jobs in the past year, which doesn’t include its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods.
At the end of 2017, Amazon employed 560,000 people worldwide
An Amazon statement says, “As part of our annual planning process, we are making headcount adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others. For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring.”
Koch-backed group launches ads against red-state Dems who opposed tax bill
The fiscally conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity will launch a $4 million television and digital ad campaign Thursday aimed at Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri for voting against the GOP’s tax cut, according to The Hill.
Donnelly and McCaskill are both up for reelection in states President Trump won easily in 2016. Trump carried Missouri by nearly 20 points and won Indiana by about 19.
Republicans had been hopeful that a few red-state Democrats in the Senate would join them in supporting the tax cut, which was passed into law in December, but none did.
At the time, the tax bill was enormously unpopular but recent polling has shown voters warming to the law.
Republicans are vowing to sell the tax overhaul to the public and run on the issue before a difficult 2018 midterm election for the GOP.
Justice Dept. plans to end office that combats racial, gender, sexual orientation and disability conflicts
President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate a Justice Department office created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to help communities combat racial tensions, according to The Hill.
The Community Relations Service would be defunded, and its responsibilities folded into the department’s Civil Rights Division, according to BuzzFeed News.
Lee Lofthus, who heads Justice’s administrative office, told reporters that the division would be able to continue the office’s work without the employees currently working at the service. He added that officials decided to propose removing the office because of a “reorganization challenge” to save money.
The Community Relations Service was established in 1964 to help communities handle conflict related to “race, color, or national origin,” a directive that was later expanded to include gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious and disability issues.
Catholic school teacher fired after marrying same-sex partner
A Catholic school teacher in Miami was fired after marrying her same-sex partner, according to USA Today.
First-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi lost her job at the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, just one day after returning from her wedding to Natasha Hass in the Florida Keys.
Morffi’s Instagram post says, “This weekend I married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result.”
The Archdiocese of Miami confirmed with the Miami Herald that Morffi was fired because she broke her contract under the church’s rules of conduct but wouldn’t get into specifics.
The decision to fire Morffi outraged many parents.
Cinti Cini, a parent of a student in Morffi’s class, told the Herald that parents didn’t know Morffi’s sexual orientation, but said they don’t care, adding, “Our only concern was the way she was with our children, the way she taught our children and this woman by far was one of the best teachers out there.”
‘Sports Illustrated’ makes waves with Swimsuit Issue
The 2018 edition of Sports Illustrated’s famous Swimsuit Issue came out today, solving the mystery of the cover model’s identity which had been kept secret, according to USA Today.
Danielle Herrington, 24, becomes just the third black woman to appear on the cover of the coveted issue, joining Tyra Banks (1997) and Beyonce (2007). Sports Illustrated had teased that this year’s reveal would be a “moment for the ages.”
Herrington, a California native who first appeared in the magazine’s swimsuit issue last year, was photographed this year wearing a pink string bikini on Harbour Island, Bahamas. SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day called Herrington a “natural brand ambassador” for the magazine.
Herrington wrote on her Instagram “I dedicate this to all the young girls out there. Work hard, surround yourself with good people who believe in you and your DREAMS WILL COME TRUE!,” she wrote before thanking a long list of people.
The magazine is also making waves with this year’s issue by joining the #MeToo movement with an empowering “In Her Own Words” project.
Happy Mardi Gras!
It’s Mardi Gras — the name means “Fat Tuesday” in French, a reference to the tradition of indulging in rich, fatty foods before Lent, the season where Christians fast and give up worldly pleasures.
Millions of tourists are in or heading to New Orleans for its famous Bourbon Street Mardi Gras celebrations featuring elaborate parades, costumes and music, according to USA Today.
Revelers also enjoy traditional sweet treats — like purple, gold and green King Cakes.
Ryan under pressure from GOP conservatives
House conservatives are warning GOP Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to take a hard line on immigration or else risk facing a revolt in his own ranks, according to The Hill.
No GOP lawmakers are calling for a leadership change, but frustrated conservatives are pressuring Ryan to put a hardline immigration bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia on the House floor in the coming weeks.
The growing calls underscore how Ryan, who has not yet announced whether he plans to run for reelection, is walking a political tightrope after passing a massive budget deal that was unpopular with conservatives.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a GOP House Freedom Caucus leader, tells The Hill, “The [budget] bill that passed last week wasn’t consistent with what we told the voters we were going to do. We had better get it right on immigration.”
Trump officials face decision on lifetime limits for Medicaid
The Trump administration is facing a crucial test of how much flexibility they are willing to give states to remake their Medicaid programs, according to The Hill.
Federal officials have already greenlighted two states work requirements on Medicaid recipients, and at least eight other states are hoping to follow.
A handful of other states want to go even further by putting a lifetime cap on how long people can be enrolled in the Medicaid program.
No state has ever limited how long a person can receive Medicaid benefits.
But given that the Trump administration has already shown a willingness to approve conservative policies like work requirements, premiums and lockout periods for Medicaid, many experts and advocates think lifetime limits could also win approval.
Bill Gates: China, other powers ready to fill void if U.S. cuts foreign aid
Tech pioneer Bill Gates is optimistic that the U.S. can keep its historically influential role as a global leader, according to USA Today.
But for a second year in a row, he cautions that the nation risks losing its geopolitical clout if the Trump administration succeeds in slashing foreign aid, as in a new federal budget that prioritizes a jump in military spending.
Last year, the White House tried to reduce foreign aid by one-third, but Congress did not approve the cuts.
If the U.S. diminishes its role providing aid to poor countries, it could both disappoint allies and allow rival superpowers to step in and exert their influence overseas, Gates says, noting, “They’ll find China and others to help them out.”
First human case of new parasitic eye worm infection
An Oregon woman who had worms coming out of her eye is being called the first known human case of a parasitic infection spread by flies.
Fourteen tiny worms were removed from the left eye of the 26-year-old woman in August 2016, according to a study led by Richard Bradbury of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports.
The woman, Abby Beckley, was diagnosed in August 2016 with Thelazia gulosa—a type of translucent, half-inch eye worm seen in cattle in the northern United States and southern Canada, but never before in humans. She was treated, and no more worms or additional symptoms were found.
Eye worms are spread by a type of fly known as “face flies,” which feed on the tears that lubricate the eyeball, scientists say.
Trump eyes Dems while touting infrastructure plan
President Trump touts his newly unveiled proposal to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure today, calling on Democrats who have been critical of the plan to make a “deal.”
Trump tweets, “Our infrastructure plan has been put forward and has received great reviews by everyone except, of course, the Democrats.”
Trump is expected to lobby lawmakers on the plan long-promised plan to revamp the country’s aging roads and bridges when he hosts key members of Congress at the White House on Wednesday.
That plan calls for the federal government to pump $200 billion into such an effort, with the hope of creating $1.5 trillion in total spending—half of which would require matching state and local spending on infrastructure projects.
Many Democrats oppose the plan, saying that it fails to offer the federal funding needed for a meaningful and effective overhaul of the country’s infrastructure.
Emily Sweeney’s luge crash stuns Olympic crowds
US luger Emily Sweeney suffered a frightening crash today at the women’s singles competition during the Winter Olympics, according to USA Today.
Sweeney was in her fourth run and in curve 9 when she bounced around the track before crashing.
Sweeney was conscious, and eventually got up and walked off the ice under her own power, though she was moving gingerly. Sweeney went to a hospital.
Trump’s budget adds trillions to the deficit but voters probably won’t care
President Trump’s budget plan adds more than $7 trillion to the country’s debt over the next decade, yet polling suggests Trump won’t receive much backlash for raising deficits, including from those who voted for him.
Reducing the budget isn’t an important issue for most Americans.
According to a January Pew Research Center survey, just 48% of Americans said reducing the federal deficit should be a top priority for Trump and Congress to address this year.
The budget plan goes against Republican orthodoxy to eliminate or lower the federal budget debt and deficit. Some Republican members of Congress have voiced their frustration with raising deficits, which could derail Trump’s budget proposal.
Trump’s budget proposes ending federal funding for PBS, NPR
President Trump’s newly proposed budget includes a proposal to end federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, part of a package that includes $300 billion in new spending overall.
CPB provides federal funding for PBS and 350 PBS and NPR member stations that serve all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.
Responding to Trump’s budget, the CPB’s head said the cuts would hurt emergency alert systems and childhood programming, among other things.
CPB President Patricia Harrison says, “There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services. The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions — all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”
Trump’s budget proposes to end federal funding over a two-year period.
Adam Rippon hails ‘overwhelming’ support
Adam Rippon pays tribute to the “overwhelming” support he’s received as one of the first openly gay men to compete at the Winter Olympics.
Rippon says, “I’ve gotten so many messages from young kids all over the country that my story’s resonated with them.”
The 28-year-old figure skater won a bronze medal on his debut appearance Monday at the Pyeongchang Games.
His medal-winning performance comes in the same event in which Eric Radford became the first ever openly gay man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
Snowboarding gold winner Kim is ‘a dragon’
Chloe Kim’s text from her father spurred her to win the snowboarding gold medal at Pyeongchang, according to USA Today.
His text, “This is the time to be a dragon. Today is the day the imugi turns to dragon.”
In Korean mythology, an imugi is a large snake. It eventually turns into a powerful dragon, one that can soar through the clouds and carries a golden pearl in its mouth, a perfect analogy.
Kim says today, “This is the best outcome I could ever ask for and it’s been such a long journey. Just going home with the gold is amazing.
South Africa’s ruling party demands president resign
South African President Jacob Zuma must leave office promptly so that the country can move toward political stability and economic recovery, the ruling party says today, finally disowning a leader who has been discredited by corruption scandals.
The national executive committee of the African National Congress decided to “recall” Zuma at a marathon meeting that ended overnight, says Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general, according to the Associated Press.
Zuma has agreed to resign and wants to stay in office for several more months, but Magashule said the party committee rejected that proposal to end uncertainty over leadership in one of Africa’s largest economies.
Magashule says, the ANC looks forward to an “amicable solution” and “it’s obvious” that the party wants Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma, who the party expects to respond Wednesday to its decision.
Tillerson raises ISIA alarm at meeting of coalition
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants to refocus and reenergize the U.S.-led coalition charged with fighting the Islamic State group amid a series of confrontations in the region.
Tillerson tells coalition members in Kuwait, “The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS. Without continued attention and support from coalition members, we risk the return of extremist groups like ISIS in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria and their spread to new locations.”
Tillerson says that the U.S. will provide an additional $200 million for stabilization and recovery efforts in parts of Syria liberated from ISIS control.
His comments come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Turkey, which has launched a military campaign against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
Gene therapy to fight HIV – maybe
A San Francisco man’s body now controls his HIV infection by itself, and researchers are trying to perfect the gene editing that made this possible, according to the Associated Press.
Scientists removed some of Matt Chappell’s blood cells, disabled a gene to help them resist HIV, and returned these “edited” cells to him in 2014.
Chappell has been off medications for three and a half years and even was able to keep the virus in check despite cancer treatments last year that taxed his immune system.
Dr. Otto Yang of the UCLA AIDS Institute, says “Gene therapy techniques have advanced greatly. A lot of people are thinking it’s the right time to go back.”
But Chappell is one of the lucky few of the 100 others in gene therapy experiments able to stay off HIV drugs; the rest still need medicines to keep HIV suppressed.
Husband continues 40-year Valentine’s Day tradition for wife with dementia
Albuquerque resident Donna Kramer, 74, may have been diagnosed with dementia nearly four years ago, but that doesn’t mean she’s forgotten the sacred Valentine’s tradition that began months before she married her husband, 77-year-old Ron Kramer, in 1979.
Ron recreates the couple’s first Valentine’s Day together for nearly 40 years, and he’ll continue this Valentine’s Day now that Donna resides in an assisted living facility.
Ron was smitten right after meeting her and asked Donna weeks prior to Valentine’s Day what her favorite candy was.
Dark chocolate cremes from Buffet’s Candies, a gourmet candy shop serving the Albuquerque area since the 1950s.
The clerk told him back then that if he brought the box back with him the next year, they would only charge him for the candy. He’s done just that for 40 years.
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has set the stage for the upper chamber to next week begin consideration of legislation protecting the more than 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from deportation.
“The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset,” McConnell said in a floor speech early Friday morning after the upper chamber voted to end an overnight government shutdown.
McConnell’s action sets up a Monday evening procedural vote and is consistent with an agreement made last month with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that the upper chamber would consider DACA proposals during the month of February as long as the government remained open.
The program expires on March 5.
McConnell has said the Senate will vote on any proposal that garners 60 votes.
On Monday, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced that they intend to introduce legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients as well as allocate funds for enhanced border security measures.
The White House has rejected the measure as it does not conform with the Trump administration’s immigration reform framework proposal. The administration has said that any DACA deal must include $25 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and put an end to both the diversity lottery and chain migration.
A vote on the bill is nevertheless expected.
The McCain-Coons proposal complements a House bill that was introduced last month. The legislation is somewhat similar to a proposal by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that also was recently rejected by the White House.
House Republican leaders and the administration have expressed support for a hard-line immigration bill introduced last month by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).