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The Latest: Senate approves bill to avert shutdown

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 11:17 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 11:16 AM


            President Donald Trump accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, speaks before a meeting with congressional leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, speaks before a meeting with congressional leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local):

616 p.m.

No government shutdown — for now.

The Senate has voted 81-14 for a spending bill to keep the government open until Dec. 22. The Senate approval comes about an hour after the House backed the measure.

The bill now heads to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.

The measure provides funds to government agencies, from the Defense Department to the IRS. The two-week spending bill also makes money available to several states that are running out of funds for the Children's Health Insurance Program. That widely popular program provides medical care to more than 8 million children.

Passage of the measure gives Republicans and Democrats more time to negotiate some of the other end-of-year agenda items, including immigration.

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6 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump had a "constructive" meeting with congressional leaders, with the parties agreeing on the need to eliminate mandatory defense spending caps.

Congressional aides say Republicans and Democrats have agreed to raise defense spending caps but have not yet reached an agreement on non-defense spending. Democrats are seeking dollar-for-dollar increases in non-defense spending such as pensions, veterans' services and fighting opioid addiction.

The White House says Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell want negotiations on immigration to be held separately rather than as part of the government funding bill.

Trump says any immigration package needs to end so-called chain migration, provide funding for a border wall and strengthen immigration enforcement.

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5:45 p.m.

Republicans and Democratic leaders say they had a "productive" meeting Thursday with President Donald Trump on keeping the government running.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say nothing specific was agreed to. They say "we had a productive conversation on a wide variety of issues."

Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan say the Republicans focused on the need to reach a long-term funding agreement that provides adequate resources for the military.

The Republican leaders spoke of the need to help young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, but also stressed the importance of addressing border security and other parts of "our broken immigration system." They say the discussions on immigration should be part of a separate process.

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4:55 p.m.

The House has passed a bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend.

The measure passed on a 235-193 vote Thursday, mostly along party lines, and would keep the government running through Dec. 22. The idea is to buy time for negotiations on unfinished bipartisan business on Capitol Hill, including the budget, a key children's health program and aid to hurricane-slammed Puerto Rico.

Those negotiations are sure to be tricky. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi staked out a hard line on Thursday and insisted that any year-end deal would include help for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The immigrants are viewed sympathetically by the public and most lawmakers but face deportation in a few months because President Donald Trump reversed administrative protections provided to them by former President Barack Obama.

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3:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump's meeting with congressional leaders has relocated from the Oval Office to the White House Situation Room for a briefing on military readiness.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that the leadership was "receiving an update on our military by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis."

The group is convening to continue negotiations on critical end-of-year spending legislation, with Democrats and Republicans deeply divided on defense and immigration priorities.

Both sides are expressing optimism about averting a government shutdown at midnight Friday, when the current spending authority expires, and later this month.

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3:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump and Democratic and Republican congressional leaders are sounding an optimistic tone as they sit down at the White House.

Trump said Thursday that he hopes the group will make good progress as they prepare to discuss plans to avert a government shutdown and reach an end-of-year budget agreement.

He says: "We're all here as a very friendly, well-unified group."

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also say they hope to come to an agreement.

Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi skipped a meeting with him last week after Trump tweeted that he doubted he could reach any deal with them.

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12:10 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is suggesting that House Republicans have enough votes to fund the federal government through Dec. 22, even if all Democrats vote against the measure.

The Wisconsin Republican says, "I feel good where we are." He called keeping the government running "just basic governing."

Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline to avert a partial government shutdown. The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill that would fund the government through Dec. 22 while lawmakers negotiate a longer spending bill.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats don't intend to vote for the measure because it doesn't include funding for their priorities.

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11:15 a.m.

The drama over whether the House will pass legislation preventing a weekend partial government shutdown is essentially over.

The leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus says Republicans' chief vote counter has told him there are enough votes to pass a short-term spending bill Thursday, keeping agencies open until Dec. 22.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina says his group will likely provide leaders with the needed votes. Conservatives had threatened to oppose the legislation.

Meadows says they want to avoid distractions from the tax bill Republicans plan to push through Congress this month.

Meadows says GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan has promised to try passing future legislation funding the military for the year and leaving fights with Democrats over domestic spending for later.

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3:45 a.m.

Congress seems set to prevent a weekend government shutdown. But lawmakers and President Donald Trump still have longer-range disputes to settle over spending, immigration and other issues before they can declare budget peace.

Many on both sides have decided a headline-grabbing federal closure would be a political blunder, at least for now. So the House planned to approve legislation Thursday financing federal agencies through Dec. 22. The Senate seemed ready to follow.

Without legislation, many agencies would run out of money after midnight Friday and grind to a close.

The two-week spending measure is aimed at giving both parties' bargainers more time to reach longer-term budget decisions.

To jumpstart that negotiating, Trump and congressional leaders agreed to meet Thursday an attempt to reach agreements.

Blake Farenthold won't seek re-election amid harassment claims

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 10:46 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 11:37 AM

In this Jan. 3, 2017, file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House Ethics Committee said Dec. 7 it is expanding its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Farenthold. The committee said it will investigate whether Farenthold sexually harassed a former member of his staff and retaliated against her for complaining. The committee also said the panel would review allegations that Farenthold made inappropriate statements to other members of his official staff. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Jose Luis Magana/AP
In this Jan. 3, 2017, file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House Ethics Committee said Dec. 7 it is expanding its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Farenthold. The committee said it will investigate whether Farenthold sexually harassed a former member of his staff and retaliated against her for complaining. The committee also said the panel would review allegations that Farenthold made inappropriate statements to other members of his official staff. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)(Jose Luis Magana/AP)

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold announced he won’t seek re-election, less than a week after a House committee opened an investigation into sexual harassment claims from a former aide.

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Prominent Men Accused Of Sexual Misconduct In 2017

State attorneys general ask FCC to delay net neutrality vote

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 4:13 PM

Understanding Net Neutrality

The attorneys general of nearly 20 states asked the Federal Communications Commission to delay a vote on changing the country’s net neutrality rules as they investigate reports that impersonators posted hundreds of thousands of fake comments on the commission’s notice of the proposed change.

>> Read more trending news

“If the well of public comment has been poisoned by falsified submissions, the Commission may be unable to rely on public comments that would help it reach a legitimate conclusion to the rulemaking process,” the attorneys general of 18 states said in a letter sent Wednesday to the FCC. “Or, it must give less weight to the public comments submitted which also undermines the process.”

The FCC plans to vote Thursday on gutting the Obama-era rules, meant to stop broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.

“This is akin to identity theft on a massive scale – and theft of someone’s voice in a democracy is particularly concerning,” said the letter, led by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and signed by the attorneys general of 17 other states: California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

>> Read the full letter sent to the FCC on Wednesday

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused the FCC last month of stonewalling his office’s investigation into thousands of suspicious comments made the to the commission’s net neutrality rule change notice. Since then, Schneiderman said his office has gotten more than 5,000 complaints from people whose identities were used to submit fake comments to the FCC’s notice.

In its letter to the FCC, the 18 other state attorneys general said they have received similar complaints.

>> Related: New York AG investigating fraudulent net neutrality comments to FCC

“I’m sick to my stomach knowing that somebody stole my identity and used it to push a viewpoint that I do not hold,” an Ohio resident wrote in one of the complaints. “This solidifies my stance that in no way can the FCC use the public comments as a means to justify the vote they will hold here shortly.”

A South Carolina resident said one of the false comments was posted using his or her mother’s information, even though she died in 2009.

“This is terrifying,” a Missouri resident wrote in another complaint. “Who knows what else has been said falsely under my name?”

As many as 2 million comments posted to the notice are believed to have been made using stolen identities, Schneiderman said Wednesday.

“The FCC is moving full steam ahead with a vote based on this corrupted process, while refusing to cooperate with an investigation,” Schneiderman said. “As we’ve told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda. The FCC must postpone this vote and work with us to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Net-neutrality rules bar cable and phone companies from favoring certain websites and apps — such as their own services — and give the FCC more oversight over privacy and the activities of telecom companies. Supporters worry that repealing them would hurt startups and other companies that couldn't afford to pay a broadband company for faster access to customers.

Critics of the rules say that they hurt investment in internet infrastructure and represent too much government involvement in business. Phone and cable companies say the rules aren't necessary because they already support an open internet, and have lobbied hard for their repeal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘physically dragged’ from White House, reports say

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 9:57 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 9:08 PM

Who is Omarosa Manigault Newman

Omarosa Manigaul Newman, the “Apprentice” star turned White House aide, was removed from the White House Tuesday night,“physically dragged and escorted off the campus,” according to several news reports.

Manigault-Newman announced her resignation on Wednesday, effective next month.

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#ThankYouAlabama: Doug Jones wins Senate seat over Roy Moore, Twitter celebrates

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 11:23 AM

Watch the Moment When Supporters Find Out Doug Jones Wins Alabama's Special Senate Election

News that Alabama voters chose Tuesday to send Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate over embattled Republican Roy Moore was greeted with relief and joy on social media.

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Moore was considered a favorite to take the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions early in the race, but his grip on the position slipped amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations. Several women told reporters that they were teenagers when Moore made inappropriate sexual advances toward them. 

>> Related: Alabama Senate race: Doug Jones defeats Roy Moore

Moore has denied the allegations.

>> Related: 5 things to know about Doug Jones, winner of the Alabama Senate race

Jubilant revelers took to Twitter to celebrate Jones’s victory, many with messages that included a thank you to the Dixie State:

Democrat Doug Jones waves to supporters Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Jones won Alabama's special Senate election, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)(John Bazemore/AP)