On Twitter, President Trump comes out swinging in 2018

Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 9:47 PM

Back at the White House from an extended holiday break at his Florida retreat, President Donald Trump used Twitter on Tuesday to celebrate the work of his administration, take a few shots at the news media, lob some jabs at Democrats over immigration policy, and escalate a nuclear feud with the leader of North Korea.

“I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump said of Kim Jong Un, a day after the North Korean leader had made his own implicit threat to the United States in a New Year’s message.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk,” Kim said on New Year’s Day.

President Trump was having none of it.

A few hours before Mr. Trump’s tweet, the White House made clear that U.S. policy on North Korea ‘hasn’t changed at all.’

“The United States is committed and will still continue to put maximum pressure on North Korea to change and make sure that it denuclearizes the Peninsula,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

In her first briefing of the year for reporters at the White House, Sanders echoed the President’s desire for an aggressive legislative agenda in 2018, building on the success of a sweeping package of tax cuts approved in late December.

“I think we’ve had an extremely successful 2017,” Sanders told reporters.

“And we know for certain that a lot of American workers are starting and having a very happy New Year thanks to the wage increases and bonuses they got as a result of the President’s tax cut bill,” Sanders added.

But while the briefing offered insights on a variety of policy proposals, it was the President’s tweets which made most of the news on Tuesday.

Among those tweets, the President promised more jabs at the news media next week:

That followed on the heels of two morning Twitter missives aimed at the New York Times, which Mr. Trump again labeled the “failing New York Times” – though, he did not mention anything about the exclusive interview he had given the paper just last week.

On immigration, the President not only reinforced his ‘get tough’ message on the border with Mexico, but also again tweaked Democrats over their push to legalize hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant “Dreamers” who are in the United States, avoiding deportation because of the ‘DACA’ program started under President Obama.

While Democrats have pressed for approval of the “Dream Act” in Congress, GOP leaders have been cool to the idea, as Mr. Trump has said he won’t sign off on any deal unless it includes items that he wants on immigration – like an end to so-called ‘chain migration,’ the end of the ‘Diversity Visa lottery’ system, and most importantly for the President, money to build his wall along the Mexican border.

Mr. Trump also fired off his first “Crooked Hillary” tweet of the New Year, seemingly calling for the prosecution of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and former FBI Director James Comey.

As for the North Korean tweets, they drew no responses from GOP lawmakers in the Congress, while some Democrats in the Congress expressed horror and concern.

“This guy needs a legislative leash,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

“Of what possible benefit is goading North Korea over the use of nuclear weapons?” tweeted Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

Revised Trump travel and refugee order to go before U.S. Supreme Court

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday announced that it would hear argument on the third version of President Donald Trump’s travel and refugee plan, which would limit visits to the United States by people from certain Muslim-majority nations, and slow down the number of refugees accepted into the country.

Arguments will take place in April, with a ruling expected by the end of June, instantly making this into one of the more important cases of the High Court’s term.

“We look forward to the Court’s review of this important case,” said lawyer Neal Katyal, who has represented the state of Hawaii in its efforts to block the travel order.

Like earlier versions of the travel order, this one has become hung up in legal fights in the courts, though the Supreme Court ruled in December that the Trump Administration could enforce the ban while appeals are underway.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco – the Ninth Circuit – struck down the travel ban last month.

There is also a separate challenge against the President’s travel order going before the Fourth Circuit.

The plan limits travel from Yemen, Syria, Chad, Libya, Iran, and Somalia.

Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One in the rain at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach Monday afternoon, January 15, 2018.
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One in the rain at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach Monday afternoon, January 15, 2018.

President Donald Trump will not make a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago today because of a looming federal government shutdown, a White House official told The Palm Beach Post on Friday morning.

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Trump was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport tonight for a weekend trip that included a Saturday fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign at Mar-a-Lago. The official who confirmed today’s travel is off did not address the president’s plans for the remainder of the weekend.

5 Things to Know About Mar-a-Lago

Trump was planning to make the 12th Palm Beach visit of his presidency. But Congress has not reached a spending agreement to keep the federal government operating past midnight.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Trump taking office. The Trump campaign recently announced a “special sweepstakes” in which a winner will get to attend dinner Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.

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What if a government shutdown happened? Five things to know

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 5:30 AM

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

The federal government faces a partial federal shutdown threat today without a $1.1 trillion appropriations spending budget or a temporary stopgap spending measure in place.

Here’s what could happen in the Miami Valley if a shutdown occurs:

FURLOUGHS: A Wright-Patterson Air Force Base spokesman said this week the base had not received guidance on what actions to take. But the last time a federal government shutdown occurred in 2013, thousands of Wright-Patterson civilian employees were furloughed temporarily. Among those exempted were police, fire, medical and airfield operations. Military service members remained on the job.

MUSEUM: The region’s biggest tourist attraction, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, would close until a funding deal is reached, according to a spokesman.

MAIL SERVICE: The U.S. Postal Service, which is considered self-funded, would continue operations, including home delivery and post offices would stay open, a spokesman said.

DAYTON VA: The Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities would remain open. The VA operates on a two-year budget cycle, exempting the department from the latest funding skirmish in Washington.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: NPS sites in the Dayton region closed during the last shutdown in 2013. A NPS directive issued in September 2017, said parks would close if a lapse in federal government appropriations occurs.

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Will a shutdown happen? Wright-Patterson is in a holding pattern

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At odds on immigration and spending, Congress stares at a Friday night government shutdown

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 6:07 PM

Unable to bridge the partisan divide on immigration, federal spending levels and more, Republicans and Democrats in the Congress were on the verge of letting funding for the government lapse at midnight on Friday night, as members of both parties eagerly pointed the finger of blame at each other for the spending impasse, which could trigger the first federal shutdown in over four years.

“That would be a mistake,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “Government shutdowns do not make sense.”

That Republican argument carried the day in the House, as lawmakers voted mainly along party lines Thursday evening in favor of a four week temporary funding plan – but once the bill reached the Senate floor, leaders quickly sent Senators home for the night, unable to agree on how best to proceed.

“They’re prepared to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared of Democrats, as McConnell said there was no reason to rush on solving problems with DACA and Dreamers, as GOP leaders struggled to get a majority of Senators to vote for the House-passed bill.

Meanwhile, Democrats complained that immigration talks have been slow walked by Republicans and the White House, and that it was time to force a solution on immigration, overall budget limits and more.

“We should be united in trying to come to a solution, not just kick the can down the road,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

If Congress is unable to reach a spending agreement by midnight, then many government functions would start to wind down over the weekend.

In the House, Republicans said now was the time for more negotiations, not a spending impasse which would close many government operations.

“We’ve kept the government open,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). “The right thing for the Senate to do would be to vote yes, and continue to negotiate.”

“I now just implore the Senate, do your job,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).

As Senators gathered on the floor late Thursday, a number of illegal immigrant “Dreamers” were seated in the galleries, watching the debate below.

“Look at the people who have gathered here late this night, who are following every word that we are debating,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

“Why are they here if there’s no urgency?” added Durbin, who is a leading negotiator for Democrats on DACA and immigration issues.

But while Durbin and other Democrats called for action on a bipartisan agreement on Senators from both parties related to DACA, their plan had still not been put into legislative language.

GOP Senators pointed out that lack of a bill in making the case that no deal was likely over the weekend on immigration, and again saying that the deadline was not until March.

“This institution regrettably needs to be forced into action,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who broke ranks with his party’s leadership to vote against a stopgap budget, demanding immediate action on DACA.

“We don’t have to wait until March, it would be cruel to wait until March,” Curbelo told reporters after the House had voted.

As for President Donald Trump, the White House schedule issued for Friday still had him going to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, where a party to celebrate the one year anniversary of Mr. Trump’s inauguration was reportedly scheduled for Saturday.

Also on Mr. Trump’s Friday schedule was an address to thousands rallying for the March for Life, and a meeting with his national security team in the White House Situation Room.

But Democrats only saw one thing – Air Force One leaving town.

“Trump going to Mar-a-Lago while government shutdown looms is most irresponsible, self absorbed, dereliction of duty ever by a President,” tweeted Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).

But even as both sides traded barbs, there was a lot of frustration among Republicans over the budget process, which has become stuck in neutral on a regular basis.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that we are sitting here today, having not funded the government permanently for the balance of this year,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).

If the federal government does shut down this weekend, it would be the first spending impasse since 2013, when Republicans blocked action on funding bills for 16 days, protesting the implementation of the Obama health law.