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Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 11:19 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 8:12 AM
— WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local):
The White House says President Donald Trump phoned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss strategies to reopen the government.
Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley says Trump called the Republican Senate leader on Saturday morning. Gidley says chief of staff John Kelly is speaking with lawmakers and congressional leadership, while legislative affairs director Marc Short and budget director Mick Mulvaney are on Capitol Hill.
The shutdown is marring the anniversary of Trump's inauguration. For a businessman who made his career selling himself as a deal-maker, he is struggling to find consensus with Congress on a funding agreement.
The White House says Trump will not negotiate with Democrats over their demands to provide legal protections for roughly 700,000 young immigrants known as "Dreamers" until the government is reopened.
Junior White House aides are using their out-of-office messages to assign blame to Democrats for the government shutdown.
The automatic replies from White House assistant press secretaries Ninio Fetalvo and Natalie Strom say, "Unfortunately, I am out of the office today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding_including funding for our troops and other national security priorities_hostage to an unrelated immigration debate."
Hundreds of nonessential White House staffers are barred by law from working during the shutdown. The three deputy press secretaries are still working, however, as is press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
President Donald Trump had been set to leave Friday for a fundraiser Saturday at his Florida estate marking the anniversary of his inauguration but delayed the trip over the shutdown. It's unclear if he will attend.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is giving President Donald Trump an F for "failure in leadership" on the anniversary of his inauguration.
Pelosi also slammed congressional Republicans on Saturday as the government shutdown began.
In a speech on the House floor, Pelosi said Republicans who control the White House and hold majorities in the House and Senate are "so incompetent and negligent that they couldn't get it together to keep the government open."
Pelosi urged Republicans to "get down to business for everyday people in America."
She says Trump has tweeted that the country "needs a good shutdown." She says: "Your wish has come true for your one-year anniversary."
Republicans have blamed Democrats for the shutdown.
The White House says President Donald Trump will not negotiate immigration policy with Congress until the government reopens.
Spokesman Hogan Gidley says it's "disgusting" that Senate Democrats "decided to just throw our military under the bus."
Some government functions shut down at midnight Friday after the Senate failed to pass a short-term extension of government funding. Some Democrats voted against the bill because it did not include measures to shield from deportation immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Democrats demanded that immigration be included in the funding bill. The White House insists the issues be deal with separately.
Trump in a tweet Saturday accused Democrats of being more concerned about immigrants in the country illegally than about the military.
President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for the government shutdown — tweeting that they wanted to give him "a nice present" to mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration.
He says Democrats "could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead."
And as part of a series of tweets hours after the shutdown began, the president is trying to make the case for Americans to elect more Republicans in the November elections "in order to power through this mess."
Trump is accusing Democrats of being more concerned with "Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous" border with Mexico.
He's also noting there are 51 Republicans in the Senate, and it takes 60 votes to move ahead on legislation to keep the government running — so some Democratic support is needed now.
In Trump's view, "that is why we need to win more Republicans" in the midterm elections.
The federal government has shut down.
That means a halt to all but the most essential operations. And the shutdown is marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.
It's a striking display of Washington dysfunction.
Last-minute negotiations crumbled when Senate Democrats blocked a four-week extension. And that's led to the fourth government shutdown in a quarter-century.
Leading Republicans and Democrats are now trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown.
Congress has scheduled an unusual Saturday session to begin considering a three-week version of the short-term spending measure.
The government shutdown is now official, as the deadline has been reached with no deal in place.
The White House released a statement on what they are calling the ‘Schumer Shutdown:’
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.”
White House Press Secretary tweeted a response to the Senate failing to pass a budget.
“Democrats can’t shut down the booming Trump economy, they’ll shut down the government instead.”
Senate Democrats appear to have derailed a Republican bill aimed at preventing a federal shutdown set to begin as soon as the calendar flips to Saturday.
Friday's late-night vote means at least a short government closure is all but unavoidable. There have been no clear public signs that the two parties have significantly narrowed their disputes over immigration and the budget.
The House approved the measure Thursday over Democratic opposition. It would keep agencies afloat through Feb. 16, but Democrats want a package lasting just days in hopes of intensifying pressure on the GOP to compromise.
Republicans control the Senate 51-49. The GOP needed 60 votes to prevail, but the tally was 50-48 as of 11 p.m. Eastern time. The Senate is awaiting a final vote from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The Trump administration will exempt several hundred presidential staffers from mandatory furloughs if the government shuts down at midnight.
Contingency plans released Friday night show that 659 Executive Office of the President staffers would be allowed to report to duty because they are considered essential workers. More than 1,000 of 1,700 staffers would be furloughed.
The number is higher than the Obama administration, which deemed 545 staffers essential in 2015.
The Executive Office of the President includes those who work in White House Office, the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council, among others.
President Donald Trump says efforts to avert a government shutdown are "Not looking good."
Trump says in a tweet late Friday evening that it's "Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border."
And he's blaming Democrats, saying they want a federal government shutdown "in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy."
Lawmakers are trying to hash out a deal to keep the federal government open. A partial shutdown will begin at midnight if Congress doesn't pass a funding bill.
Newly minted Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones is breaking ranks with party leaders and will vote for the House-passed Republican bill preventing a federal shutdown.
Jones tells The Associated Press he will "reluctantly" vote for the measure late Friday. He says he's backing it because the measure contains fresh financing for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which helps low-income children.
It will be Jones' highest-profile vote since he joined the Senate Jan. 3 after his upset special election victory over conservative Roy Moore.
Democrats say they have the votes to block the GOP measure. Republicans control the Senate 51-49 but need 60 votes to prevail.
Jones joins at least three other Democrats saying they'll support the bill: North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana's Joe Donnelly and West Virginia's Joe Manchin.
Administration officials say President Donald Trump would be allowed to travel to Davos, Switzerland, next week even if the government has been partially shut down.
Senior administration officials told reporters in a background briefing call that the president is permitted to continue to exercise his constitutional duties during a funding lapse. That includes carrying out diplomacy.
The officials declined to comment on whether the president would be able to travel to Florida this weekend to spend time at his Mar-a-Lago club.
Trump is planning to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting next week in Switzerland. He plans to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May, among others.
The Senate has scheduled a showdown vote for 10 p.m. EST on preventing a federal government shutdown. Democrats are ready to block the Republican measure.
Unless Congress approves some legislation providing money, government agencies will begin shutting down at midnight.
The initial impact on most people will be slight, but the closure will raise the stakes in a partisan fight over immigration and the budget.
The House approved a bill Thursday keeping agencies open through Feb. 16.
Led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, most Democrats are opposing the measure.
Republicans control the Senate 51-49 but need 60 votes to prevail. More than enough Democrats appear ready to vote "no."
President Donald Trump is striking an optimistic tone as the deadline for a federal government shutdown nears.
Trump tweeted Friday afternoon, less than seven hours before the midnight deadline, that he had "an excellent preliminary meeting" in the Oval Office with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
He is also praising the role being played by fellow Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Trump says negotiators are "making progress" and says a four-week spending extension "would be best." That's what the House passed Thursday.
Schumer told reporters after the White House meeting that progress had been made but a deal had not yet been reached.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer says he and President Donald Trump "made some progress" at a White House meeting, "but we still have a good number of disagreements."
The New York Democrat said "discussions will continue."
Trump asked Schumer to the White House for a meeting that lasted more than an hour.
The Oval Office session came with hours to go before a partial government shutdown at midnight.
Schumer'ss pressing for protections for younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, but the White House and Republicans say talks on that issue should be kept separate from legislation to prevent a shutdown.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has left the White House after a lengthy meeting with President Donald Trump.
Trump invited the Senate's top Democrat to try to reach a deal to avert a government shutdown.
Schumer did not address reporters as he left the building.
President Donald Trump has invited Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to the White House to try to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown.
That's according to a person familiar with Trump's outreach who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.
Schumer is expected to meet with Trump shortly.
The House has voted to remain in session — for now at least — while a Senate vote to avert a government shutdown looms.
Republican leaders planned to adjourn Friday after approving a four-week spending bill Thursday night that would avert a government shutdown. They changed course Friday after Democrats forced a formal vote on adjournment. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, said lawmakers have not completed their work and should not leave Washington.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans want to go to Davos, Switzerland "hobnobbing with their elitist friends instead of honoring their responsibilities to the American people."
A GOP aide said McCarthy won't attend the World Economic Forum in Davos if the government shuts down.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that Democrats will get the blame for a partial government shutdown that looks increasingly likely.
The Kentucky Republican says Senate Democrats will "own" the shutdown because they oppose a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for a month.
McConnell says he looks forward to a vote soon, though Democrats and a handful of Republicans are expected to filibuster the measure.
The Trump administration is minimizing the looming budget crisis that could produce a government shutdown, saying former President Barack Obama "weaponized" hardcore negotiating tactics.
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters that any such shuttering of the government would "look very different" from the 16-day government closure in 2013 under Obama. He said the previous administration "weaponized" the government shutdown in budget negotiations and did not encourage agencies to lessen the impact with unobligated funds.
He says, "they chose to make it worse."
Mulvaney and Marc Short, the White House legislative director, spoke as the Republican-controlled Congress battled through budget negotiations in the shadow of a midnight deadline. If no resolution is reached, the government would shut down most operations.
As a government shutdown loomed, the White House said Friday that President Donald Trump would not leave for a planned weekend in Florida unless a spending bill passes.
Trump had been set to leave Friday afternoon to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his inauguration at his Palm Beach estate.
Vice President Mike Pence still plans to travel to the Middle East on Friday night despite the potential for a shutdown of the federal government.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is putting the chances of a government shutdown at "between 50 and 60 percent."
Mulvaney spoke to reporters at the White House Friday as the prospect of a shutdown loomed. He said he was "handicapping it" between 50 and 60 percent. But, he added, "we're planning for it as though it's 100 percent."
After the House passed a four-week, government-wide spending bill, Senate Democrats vowed a filibuster unless there's a deal to protect certain young immigrants.
Asked about a Plan B, Mulvaney noted talks over a shorter term deal, but said the House may be leaving which could create a funding lapse.
Still, he said that he's open to that. He says: "we'd like to keep the government open."
President Donald Trump will not leave for a weekend at his Palm Beach estate unless a government shutdown is averted.
The White House said Friday that Trump will not head to Florida unless a funding bill passes.
Trump was set to leave Friday afternoon and planned to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his inauguration at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump tweeted Friday morning about the Friday night shutdown deadline, suggesting Democrats would be to blame.
President Donald Trump says Senate Democrats are focused on "illegal immigration and weak borders" as a government shutdown looms.
Trump says on Twitter Friday: "Government Funding Bill past (sic) last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders."
He adds: "Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!"
A divided Congress stared down a government shutdown Friday as Republicans and Democrats remain deadlocked on immigration.
After the House passed a four-week, government-wide spending bill, Senate Democrats vowed a filibuster unless there's a deal to protect around 700,000 immigrants from deportation who arrived in the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.
A bitterly-divided Congress is hurtling toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported.
Democrats in the Senate have served notice they will filibuster a four-week, government-wide funding bill that passed the House Thursday evening, seeking to shape a subsequent measure but exposing themselves to charges they are responsible for a looming shutdown.
Republicans controlling the narrowly-divided chamber took up the fight, arguing that Democrats were holding the entire government hostage over demands to protect "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 7:01 PM
CALERA, Ala. — An Alabama man charged with killing his wife, whose slaying last month unveiled her double life as an online exhibitionist, is accused of beating her to death with a bottle of absinthe, court records show.
The partially-clothed body of Kathleen Dawn “Kat” West, 42, of Calera, was discovered lying in the road in front of her home just after 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said in a Thursday news conference. She lived there with her husband, William Jeffrey West, and their 12-year-old daughter.
Jeff West, 44, was arrested Thursday and charged with murder. According to Shelby County Jail records, he was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bond.
The couple’s daughter was not home when her mother was killed.
Lemley said Thursday that Jeff West was the department’s chief suspect from the beginning of the investigation, though Kat West’s “online professional activities” warranted investigators’ attention.
He declined to specify what evidence pointed them toward her husband.
“Let me say this. We are still restricted, very restricted, on what information that can be given out,” Lemley said. “The case is still under investigation, even though we have made an arrest. But, the case has to go to trial as well.”
The West murder case has shone a national spotlight on small-town Calera, due mainly to the more salacious details of Kat West’s life. Though she described herself on social media as a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother, she operated a subscription-only adult website where she went by the name “Kitty Kat West.” The public page boasted a suggestive photo and promised users that, for a monthly $15.99 subscription fee, they could get more risqué material beyond the paywall.
Her Twitter account, also listed under her stage name, directs viewers to the paid adult website, as well. Kat West’s bio on the adult site, which was still live as of Friday, described the site, in part, as “hundreds of pics of ALL me, having some naughty fun.”
In the days immediately following the slaying, Kat West’s mother, Nancy Martin, wrote on Facebook that it seemed “impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel (over) the loss of our beautiful daughter, Kat, to ever diminish.” She described her daughter as a “cherished wife to Jeff” and a loving mother to their own young daughter.
A fundraiser in Kat West’s name was established, but quickly ended as the case became more public.
On Jan. 24, Martin changed her profile picture to one of her daughter and son-in-law. It remained there as of Friday afternoon.
See Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley’s news conference, recorded by WBRC in Birmingham, below.
Lemley said that investigators interviewed many witnesses in the case, as well as collecting a lot of evidence that needed to be processed. Four detectives were assigned to the case, two of them full-time.
“Evidence takes time to process,” the police chief said. “And we have to wait on that evidence to come in so we can connect all the dots.”
Detectives were awaiting analysis on a final piece of evidence from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. That final report was issued on Tuesday and, after a thorough review by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was issued for Jeff West’s arrest, the chief said.
“We know exactly what happened, for the most part, on this case.” Lemley said. “I mean, we can’t tell you verbatim what was being said one way or the other, but we know what happened that night. We do have evidence to support that.”
The chief credited neighboring Shelby County law enforcement agencies, state agencies and the FBI with assisting in the investigation.
Lemley again declined to go into detail about the evidence, but Jeff West’s arrest warrant, obtained by AL.com, indicates that Kat West was killed with a bottle of Lucid Absinthe. An autopsy found that the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head.
The court documents state that, when a 19-year-old neighbor left for work Jan. 18, she found Kat West face-down on the ground in nothing but a sports bra, her body half in the roadway and half in the yard of the home across the street. A cellphone was found nearby, along with a green liquor bottle.
Lucid Absinthe is sold in green bottles.
TV news magazine Inside Edition on Jan. 25 aired surveillance footage from R&R Wine and Liquor, in Calera, that shows Kat West, just about eight hours before she was killed, walk into the liquor store with a man who appears to be her husband. In the video, the couple looks happy and playful.
“They came in (and) it looked like they were on their date night,” store clerk Stacey Oglesby told Inside Edition.
The couple bought two things that night: Lucid Absinthe and Jameson Irish Whiskey, Oglesby said.
Lemley said it was not completely clear what could have happened between the couple’s visit to the liquor store, when they appeared happy, and when Kat West was bludgeoned to death.
“It’s a domestic. Unfortunately, domestics turn bad pretty quickly,” Lemley said. “Anything can trigger it.”
Jeff West, a military veteran, works as an unsworn police officer at Birmingham Southern College, AL.com reported. Officials at the school said they are in the process of terminating his employment.
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 9:11 PM
Federline’s attorney reportedly sent the pop singer a letter recently indicating that he would like to renegotiate the $20,000 monthly payment he currently receives from her for their two sons, Preston, 12, and Jayden, 11.
Married from 2004 to 2007, the former couple decided on that amount after Spears lost sole physical and legal custody over the children and was placed in a still-ongoing conservatorship under the care of her father during their highly-publicized 2008 divorce. However, now that her residency has grossed over $137 million in four short years, Federline is looking to cash in, believing the success of her show was “in part because the boys have been in her life.”
Britney Spears' ex Kevin Federline requested child support increase after her successful Las Vegas residency: https://t.co/0XoZcf8klx— Us Weekly (@usweekly) February 24, 2018
“Kevin has always been supportive of Britney’s recovery and has always recognized what a great mother she has been,” a source familiar with the situation told US Weekly. “Britney’s entire world are the boys, period. She just lights up when she is with them.”
However, Federline additionally feels he’s entitled to an increase in child support in order to “recognize the sacrifices he has made because he has gone above and beyond what most people would do in this situation.”
Both Spears and Federline are reportedly hoping to reach an agreement outside of court, with the insider adding, “Britney won’t be involved with any of the legal discussions regarding the increase request. She will let her dad, Jamie, and the lawyers hash it out. However, Jamie isn’t just going to fork over what he would consider an outrageous demand.”
Britney Spears, 2003. pic.twitter.com/1lnnKq679i— Britney Spears FR (@NewsBritneyFR) February 21, 2018
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 7:24 PM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 9:04 PM
HARDIN COUNTY — UPDATE @ 9:02 p.m.: The boy was recovered from a pond a short distance from his residence, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page.
Further information will be released as it becomes available, according to the sheriff’s office.
UPDATE @ 8:45 p.m.: Samuel Rowold, an autistic boy listed as endangered missing in Hardin County, has been located deceased, according to the Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse, with the state attorney general’s office.
No details have been given about the circumstances of the boy’s death.
We are working to find out more about what happened to Samuel.
The public is asked to help find a missing 13-year-old boy described as autistic and non-verbal who wandered away this afternoon shoeless.
The Hardin County Sheriff’s Office issued an endangered missing child advisory to help find Samuel Rowold.
Samuel is described as friendly and answers to Sam, stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds with black hair in a buzz cut and brown eyes, according to the sheriff’s office.
OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Mother shot in front of her child; Boy, 17, is in custody
He is of Filipino descent and was last seen about 2:30 p.m. on 726 Township Road 55 in Hardin County.
He was wearing a blue jacket, blue T-shirt with the faded letters EMS or an EMS logo on it and blue jeans.
This is not an Amber Alert, but Samuel is believed to be in danger, according to the sheriff’s office.
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 6:00 PM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 8:40 PM
OAKWOOD — UPDATE @ 8:40 p.m.
Police are seeking the public’s help to find the bank robber who held up LCNB.
The suspect entered Lebanon Citizens National Bank, 2705 Far Hills Ave., around 5:30 p.m., demanded money and left with an undisclosed amount of cash, Oakwood police Lt. Chuck Balaj said.
No weapon was seen, and the suspect left in a black Pontiac G6.
Anyone with information is urged to call Oakwood police at 937-298-2122 or Crime Stoppers at 937-222-STOP(7867).
Police were called this evening to a report of a bank robbery at LCNB.
The alarm was sounded around 5:40 p.m. at Lebanon Citizens National Bank, 2705 Far Hills Ave., according to police scanner traffic.
Oakwood police said the matter was under investigation and would not release any details.
According to initial reports, a dye pack exploded on the suspect, described as a man in his 50s who stands between 5 feet 6 and 5 feet 7 inches and was wearing a black ball cap and black sweater. He reportedly fled in a black Pontiac G6 south on Far Hills Avenue.
The suspect did not show a weapon but kept his hand inside his pocket, according to initial reports.
We have a crew on the way to the scene and will update this report.