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National Govt & Politics
Congress returns to session facing government shutdown threat
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Congress returns to session facing government shutdown threat

Congress returns to session facing government shutdown threat
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Congress returns to session facing government shutdown threat

As the Congress returns to work in Washington, D.C. after a two week break, lawmakers in both parties face a series of unsettled political battlegrounds, one of which could bring about a government shutdown by the end of the week, as President Trump and Republican leaders in the Congress grapple with the budget, money for their priorities, and unanswered questions on major issues like health reform.

Here's a snapshot as we begin the week in the nation's capital.

1. Will the government shutdown on Friday night? That will be the biggest question as lawmakers return to legislative work sessions in the House and Senate this week. A temporary budget plan runs out at midnight on Friday April 28, and the Congress can either enact a short term extension, come to a deal on funding through the end of September (the end of the fiscal year), or get locked in a partisan struggle and do nothing, which would mean a shutdown. Negotiations have been going on for weeks, with flash points over funding for a border wall, money for the Obama health law, a bigger budget for the military and more. One thing to note - a number of Republicans would rather avoid a shutdown in the short term.

2. One big conflict - money for the border wall. During the campaign, President Donald Trump would get a huge response from his crowds by asking who would pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border. "Mexico!" was the deafening response. But that's not the way it's going to work out, as Mr. Trump needs money from Congress to start construction work on the wall. Democrats have made clear they're not interested in helping in this plan to finish the budget for 2017. Why does the President need the support of Democrats? Because there are expected to be Republicans who won't vote for a government funding measure for a variety of reasons.

3. Republicans still struggling for health care deal. Over the break, the White House and GOP kept making noise about edging their way closer to a deal on a health care overhaul bill, something that President Trump and GOP leaders made a central promise in the 2016 campaign. But while there have been long distance discussions, there still is a lot of room between more moderate Republicans and more conservative members of the Freedom Caucus on the issue. Mr. Trump last week made clear that he would like to see action this week in the House, but that seems unlikely, as other matters are certainly higher up on the agenda at this point.

4. Trump ready to unveil basics of tax reform plan. As if a government shutdown threat, the fight over money for the border wall, and the maneuvering over the health care deal isn't enough, President Trump may add tax reform to the Legislative Stew this week as well. Mr. Trump said on Friday that he would be announcing his tax reform plan on Wednesday - a declaration that reports indicated caught his staff somewhat by surprise. It's not expected that the White House will be sending a complete plan to the Congress with all the legislative text, but rather just the bullet points of what they want. As for Democrats, they say they will not give any votes to the GOP on tax reform, until they see the President's tax returns - saying they want to know how any tax changes would impact Mr. Trump's personal bottom line.

5. This week takes us through the first 100 days of Trump. The idea of judging a President by the first hundred days in office has always struck me as sort of arbitrary. You highlight your successes, puff up what you haven't yet achieved, and try to paper over your false starts. President Trump has been grumbling of late about the whole concept, but his campaign certainly was more than happy to make big pledges for his first 100 days in office. In an interview with the Associated Press last week, Mr. Trump was asked if he should be "held accountable" to that 100-day plan. "Somebody, yeah, somebody put out the concept of a hundred day plan. But yeah. Well, I'm mostly there on most items," he answered. If you look at the graphic below - produced by the Trump Campaign, and tweeted out by the candidate in October 2016, you will see ten items all ending in "Act" - as in, a law passed by the Congress. None of those things have made it into law as yet. April 29 marks 100 days.

It is possible that President Trump will mark his 100th day in office with a government shutdown. We'll see if that happens.

The Senate is back on Monday. The House returns on Tuesday. Friday is the funding deadline.

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News

  • A Virginia man and woman are facing homicide charges after their 2-month-old daughter died from cocaine and heroin intoxication last year, authorities said. According to WDBJ-TV, police on Tuesday arrested Eugene Chandler Jr., 27, and Shaleigh Brumfield, 26, of Danville, on felony homicide charges in the baby's November 2018 death. Officials also charged the pair with child abuse and neglect, the news station reported. >> Read more trending news On Nov. 24, Danville police and emergency crews responded to a report of an infant who couldn't breathe, according to court documents. The child, identified as Marleigh Rain Chandler, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, the Danville Register & Bee reported. While searching the family's home, investigators discovered evidence of drug use, including marijuana and drug paraphernalia, WSET reported. The Western District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy, which revealed that Marleigh died from 'acute heroin and cocaine intoxication in a setting of co-sleeping,' officials said. Chandler and Brumfield were booked into the Danville City Jail, where they are being held without bond.
  • A 58-year-old man is behind bars after police said he raped a child nightly over a three-year period. According to the Jackson Sun, William Paul Godwin of Parsons, Tennessee, was arrested Sunday and charged with 12 counts of child rape, as well as one count of continuous child rape, authorities said. >> Read more news stories Godwin is accused of forcing the girl into sexual intercourse nightly beginning in fall 2012, when she was 5, the Sun reported. The victim said the rapes continued until summer 2015, according to court documents. Godwin was jailed on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court July 8, WBBJ reported. Read more here or here.
  • A man who police said made threats toward children months ago outside an Incredible Pizza restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, has been arrested. Zantarrian Ferguson was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and evading arrest with third-party injuries, police said. Police told WHBQ-TV that Ferguson was asked to leave the business in November after threatening a group of people about stealing a phone. >> Read more trending news Once outside, Ferguson pulled out an AK-47 and aimed it at a bus filled with children, according to police.  People at the scene pleaded for Ferguson to put the gun away, but he continued to yell at the bus, authorities said. Police said Ferguson eventually got into the driver's seat of a silver SUV and fled the scene. Officers reportedly found Ferguson on Cordova Road fleeing the scene south of Incredible Pizza. Police said they caught up with Ferguson in the Walmart parking lot in the 500 block North Germantown Parkway. When police approached the vehicle, Ferguson fled the scene again at a high rate of speed, authorities said. Ferguson eventually crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of Walnut Grove and Germantown Parkway. Police said Ferguson fled the scene again, but several children were in the car at the time of the crash. The youngest child was only 2 years old. Investigators also located the AK-47 and two Glock pistols inside the vehicle, police said. Ferguson is being held on a $21,000 bond. His next court appearance is July 2 at 9 a.m.
  • A Memphis, Tennessee, family is devastated and trying to cope with the loss of their 4-year-old son.  Ayden Robinson was accidentally shot and killed by his 3-year-old brother Monday at the Pershing Park Apartments in Frayser, authorities said.  >> On Fox13Memphis.com: Boy, 4, accidentally shot and killed by 3-year-old brother, police say When WHBQ-TV spoke with the boys' parents on Tuesday, their emotions were still raw from the tragic death.  Precious Wright and Travis Robinson are not only grieving their child’s loss  but also figuring out how they are going to pay for his funeral. “I wish he could come back,” Wright said. “I just want my baby to come back.” Wright was understandably emotional as she described the loss. On Monday afternoon, Wright rushed Ayden to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital after he was shot accidentally by his brother. Police said Ayden and his little brother, Jayden, found an unattended gun in a dresser drawer inside the apartment. Investigators confirmed that the boys were alone inside that room when the shooting happened. “Ayden, he was always a nice child,” said Travis Robinson, the boys’ father. “He was that child that needed special attention – that love. He always acted like a baby, so I treated him like a baby. Because in my eyes, he still is a baby.” According to police documents, Jayden accidentally shot Ayden. He was rushed to the hospital but later died. Nathaniel Wilkins, Wright’s boyfriend, is now being charged with reckless homicide. Wilkins admitted the gun belonged to him and that he 'left it in an area accessible to the children,' according to the arrest affidavit.  “Jayden, when it comes down to it at night, he’s going to be like, ‘Momma, where’s Ayden at? I want Ayden.’ I don’t even know how I’m going to explain to him where his brother’s at,” said the boys’ father. >> Read more trending news Now, the boys’ parents are dealing with the grief while also making plans to bury their son. “I never thought I’d be wearing a ‘Rest in Peace’ shirt of my son, with his name on it, or put ‘Long Live Ayden,' his picture or his name. I never expected it,” Travis Robinson said. The young parents didn’t have insurance, leaving them with large medical bills and funeral expenses. “Just help me and my baby. Help my family. He didn’t mean no harm. I just love him so much,” Wright said. If you are interested in donating to the family’s GoFundMe campaign, click here.
  • Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has agreed to testify publicly in House hearings on July 17. >> Read more trending news House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement that the special counsel has agreed to testify about the Trump-Russia report he issued in April. The Justice Department declined to comment. >> MORE: Mueller resigns as Special Counsel, refuses to exonerate Trump on obstruction The committees have been in negotiations with Mueller for more than two months about his testimony. But he has been hesitant to testify and speak about the investigation beyond a public statement he issued last month. >> Read the latest from our Washington Insider, Jamie Dupree  In a letter to Mueller accompanying the subpoenas, the committee chairmen said “the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions.” President Donald Trump has denied all wrongdoing and consistently framed Mueller’s investigation as an expensive and politically motivated “witch hunt” aimed at hurting his presidency.  Late Tuesday, Trump appeared to respond to the news in a tweet. “Presidential Harassment!” he wrote. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Scientists at the University of St. Andrews taught three young gray seals to sing, literally. >> Read more trending news Seals, which generally bark, and other marine mammals are known for some of the sounds they make. Whales sing, dolphins click, penguins peep and walruses bellow. Researchers, though, were able to train the three young seals to bark out the notes to the opening bars of the theme from “Star Wars” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The research is published in the journal Current Biology. It’s not just that teaching a seal to sing is an interesting project, St. Andrews scientists said they wanted to learn more about how seals communicate with each other, according to Smithsonian magazine. Knowing how seals communicate in the wild could become important in the future to conservation efforts.