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Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 1:53 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 10:14 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax overhaul early Saturday morning that includes lowering corporate tax rates and eliminating the Affordable Care Act mandate, but since it was mostly drafted behind closed doors and lawmakers were adding amendments right up until the vote, it’s unclear exactly what’s in the massive and complex bill.
Called the Tax Reconciliation Act, the bill passed by a 51-49 margin as Republicans and Democrats voted mostly along party lines. Only Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker went against his party, as the Republican voted against the bill. The final tally was announced at 1:50 a.m. ET.
The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday the GOP Senate tax plan would add more than $1 trillion dollars to the budget deficit in 10 years.
President Donald Trump lauded the bill’s passage in an early morning tweet, saying that America is “one step closer to delivering massive tax cuts for working families.”
We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America. Special thanks to @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell and Chairman @SenOrrinHatch for shepherding our bill through the Senate. Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas! pic.twitter.com/gmWTny3SfS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also responded, calling the legislation a "betrayal of the American middle class."
“The GOP tax scam is a product of haste, carelessness and cruelty," Pelosi wrote. "It was written on Republicans’ trickle-down delusions, not analysis or facts. It was written first and foremost for the wealthiest one percent, not middle class families trying to get ahead."
Passing the legislation was a huge victory for Senate Republicans and Trump, both looking for significant legislative achievements, CNN reported.
Republican leaders said the tax cuts would encourage U.S. companies to invest more and boost economic growth, Reuters reported.
“We have an opportunity now to make America more competitive, to keep jobs from being shipped offshore and to provide substantial relief to the middle class,” said Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate.
Congressional negotiators continued to make changes to the bill -- including handwriting alterations on to the document -- up until just hours before the final vote, CNN reported.
Congressional negotiators continued to make changes to the bill -- including handwriting alterations on to the document -- up until just hours before the final vote.
The changes drew some criticism from Democrats. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin complained on Twitter that “they are making hand-written changes to brand-new text as we speak.”
“Can anyone else read this?”
The U.S. House passed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act on Nov. 16 on a party-line vote. The Senate bill now goes back to the House for reconciliation, and then to Trump for his signature.
The House will vote on a motion to go to conference on the tax bills on Monday evening. Fox News reported. The Senate is expected to vote on a similar measure soon after. Congress is scheduled to adjourn for its Christmas break on Dec. 15. Trump said he was looking forward to signing the bill before Christmas.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a key holdout, announced just after noon Friday that he would back the plan, CNN reported. Republicans could pass the legislation with 50 members and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, but after Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced her support Friday afternoon, Pence's would-be vote was unnecessary, as Collins' vote brought the tally to 51.
Before the vote was taken, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said the Republicans’ approach “a process and a product that no one can be proud of and everyone should be ashamed of.”
The Democrat from New York added that changes made to the bill “under the cover of darkness” would “stuff even more money into the pockets of the wealthy and the biggest corporations while raising taxes on millions in the middle class,”
The New York Times reported.
Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:50 AM
NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man is behind bars after police said that he performed what he called a satanic ritual on a friend.
Kyle Parker is accused of cutting the victim on her palm during an argument, TribLive reported.
The woman passed out, but when she woke up, she said found razor blade cuts on her calf.
The next day the victim said that Parker told her, “I sold your soul to the devil,” Trib Live reported.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:35 PM
— The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government up and running.
While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the temporary spending bill.
“I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.”
What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect:
First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay.
Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government.
What is a continuing resolution?
A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year.
CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16.
Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:
Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.
For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.
Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.
You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.
The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home.
You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.
Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.
All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.
School lunches, SNAP and WIC
School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.
Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed.
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue.
Sources: The Associated Press; Politico; the Congressional Research Service
Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:50 AM
WASHINGTON — Former FBI Director James Comey will teach an ethical leadership course for his alma mater, Virginia’s College of William & Mary, starting in the fall, the school announced Friday.
Comey, who was dismissed as director of the FBI by President Donald Trump in May 2017, was named an executive professor in education at William & Mary on Friday. School officials said he will teach ethical leadership during the fall 2018, spring 2019 and summer 2019 semesters with Drew Stelljes, an executive assistant professor of education and assistant vice president for student leadership at William & Mary.
“Our students will benefit significantly from his experience and wisdom,” William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said in a news release. “He understands to the core of his being that our leaders must have an abiding commitment to ethical behavior and sacrificial service if we are to have good government.”
The course will be taught predominantly in Washington, D.C., at the William & Mary Washington Center, school officials said. One class will be live-streamed to students in Washington, D.C., and taught at the William & Mary School of Education in Williamsburg, Virginia.
"I am thrilled to have the chance to engage with William & Mary students about a vital topic — ethical leadership,” Comey said in a news release. “Ethical leaders lead by seeing above the short term, above the urgent or the partisan, and with a higher loyalty to lasting values, most importantly the truth. Building and maintaining that kind of leadership, in both the private sector and government, is the challenge of our time.”
Comey ran the Richmond, Virginia, division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia f om 1996 to 2001, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. During that time, he also worked as an adjunct law professor at the University of Richmond, the news site reported.
President Barack Obama appointed Comey as director of the FBI in September 2013.
He faced criticism during and after the 2016 presidential election for his handling of an FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time in office. His decision to release a letter to Congress informing lawmakers of newly uncovered Clinton emails just weeks before the election had a strong impact on the vote, according to analysts.
Comey said two days before the election that nothing new or incriminating was found in the emails.
Comey was fired by Trump amid an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to Trump campaign officials.
In congressional testimony, Comey said he felt the president tried to get him to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign less than a month into his tenure after it was revealed that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian officials.
The White House denied that the dismissal was related to the Russia investigation, although Trump later told NBC News that he had “this Russia thing” on his mind when making the decision.
Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:43 AM
CLATSOP COUNTY, Ore. — A fisherman who had to jump into the Columbia River to avoid being crushed in a boating crash has filed a lawsuit against the person who was captaining the other vessel.
Clatsop County Sheriff’s Department said that the motor boat driver, Marlin Lee Larsen, 75, was sitting down while driving his boat and that he couldn’t see over the dash when he crashed into the fishing boat that Bryan Maess, 47, and two other friends were on, Oregon Live reported.
A GoPro camera captured the crash that happened in August. Christopher McMahon, one of Maess’ friends, waved his arms and yelled, trying to get Larsen’s attention. When that didn’t work, and it was apparent that the larger boat was going to crash into theirs, Maess, McMahon and Roni Durham jumped into the water.
Investigators found that if they had not abandoned ship, the friends would have been injured or even killed.
Maess, however, was injured by jumping into the water and being hit by debris, including injuries to his ankle, leg and arm, vision problems and headaches. He still wears a knee brace, according to the lawsuit, in which he is suing Larsen for $372,500, Oregon Live reported.
McMahon and Durham have not filed suit yet, but have started the process. Both are said to have suffered hypothermia and cuts. Durham claims she has suffered psychological trauma and hasn’t been on a boat since the accident.
Larsen’s son-in-law was on the boat driven by Larsen at the time of the crash. He told police that he warned Larsen to pay attention and that he had seen his father-in-law on his cellphone in the past, including the day of, but not at the time of, the accident.
Larsen told Oregon Live that he wasn’t using the device while he was driving the boat and that the allegations were “fake news.” He also said that the lawsuit, in his opinion, was not necessary since the other people were not hurt badly.
Larsen also has a criminal case filed against him, in which he has pleaded not guilty to reckless operation of a boat, fourth-degree assault and recklessly endangering the lives of others, Oregon Live reported.