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National Govt & Politics
In flurry of legislative action, Congress delivers pair of bipartisan bills to Trump
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In flurry of legislative action, Congress delivers pair of bipartisan bills to Trump

In flurry of legislative action, Congress delivers pair of bipartisan bills to Trump
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

In flurry of legislative action, Congress delivers pair of bipartisan bills to Trump

With the support of a few dozen Democrats, Congressional Republicans notched a pair of legislative victories for President Donald Trump on Tuesday in the U.S. House, giving final approval to a plan to roll back certain regulations on smaller banking institutions, as well as voting out a bill to help terminally-ill Americans seek new medicines and treatments.

Known as the "Right to Try" legislation, that measure would open new avenues to experimental drugs for those people who have found no cure for a life threatening disease or medical condition.

"As President Trump said in his State of the Union Address this year, every terminally-ill patient should have the right to try innovative drugs that could save their lives," said Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA).

"Almost forty states have passed their own versions of this important legislation, and we look forward to addressing this at the Federal level," the White House said in a statement.

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"Americans deserve the chance to fight for their lives," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), as he praised the plan which allows terminally-ill patients access to medicine that has been approved by federal regulators, but might not be available yet to the general public.

"Americans and their loved ones deserve the chance to fight for their lives," Goodlatte added.

The "Right to Try" vote came just before the House approved another bill from the Senate, which eases some financial regulations enacted under the Dodd-Frank law, as 33 Democrats joined with Republicans to ease restrictions on smaller banks.

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For Republicans, it was part of a pre-Memorial Day flurry of legislative advances, as the House also approved a prison reform bill backed by the White House.

Before leaving town on Thursday, the House is expected to approve a major defense policy bill, and may take another shot at voting on a farm policy measure - that bill failed last week in an internal GOP dispute over how best to deal with immigration legislation.

Both the defense and farm plans would still need action in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Wednesday is expected to send the President another bill on veterans medical care; the Senate voted 91-4 on Tuesday to shut off debate on the measure.

"There is nothing less we need to ask of ourselves than to see to it they have the healthcare benefits we’ve promised veterans for so long,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), as the bill would make a number of new changes in medical care efforts for veterans, which have been plagued by internal troubles for years.

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News

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  • The first hotel in orbit above the Earth is set to open in just over six years, according to the ambitious plans of the company anticipating the world’s first space tourists. >> Read more trending news  The Gateway Foundation unveiled its designs for a rotating space station that will produce differing levels of artificial gravity and will accommodate up to 100 tourists a week when it opens in 2025, according to news reports. Named the Von Braun Station after rocket technology pioneer Wernher von Braun, Gateway said on its website that it’s working with national space agencies to research low gravity while assembling the station and also providing “space tourists who want to experience life on a large space station with the comfort of low gravity and the feel of a nice hotel.” Using technology for the construction of the International Space Station, the Von Braun station will consist of two concentric structural rings connected together by spokes that will support a so-called Habitation Ring of large, pressurized modules, Gateway officials said. The foundation said the station will include an array of modules, including an air water power module, a gym module, a kitchen, restaurant and bar module. There will also be a crew quarters; privately owned modules for villas, hotels and commercial uses and government-owned modules for research and training. Initial activities for tourists might include low-gravity basketball, low-gravity rock climbing and trampolining, Von Braun Station design architect Tim Alatorre said, according to ABC News, which sited the architecture and design magazine Dezeen. Alatorre predicted travel to the station would compare with a cruise or a Disney World vacation with activities like concerts, movies and seminars. Others are getting in on the race to commercialize space, including NASA, which announced this summer it expected to open the International Space Station to tourists by 2020.
  • A Texas teen was arrested for hitting a woman with his car when driving drunk, according to police. KAGS reported that around 2 a.m. Saturday, Pedro Puga, 17, was driving in College Station, Texas, when he hit a woman with his vehicle and kept driving, according to court documents.  >> Read more trending news  WFAA reported that Puga hit Carlynn Beatty, a sophomore at Texas A&M.  Beatty was walking home with friends on campus when Puga hit her with his SUV. According to court documents obtained by KAGS, a witness told police Puga pulled into a parking lot and inspected his vehicle for damage. He then got back in his vehicle and continued to drive.  The vehicle was found parked at a gym, KAGS reported. When College Station Police Department officers confronted Puga, he said he would have outrun them had he not taken Xanax and cocaine earlier that day. KBTX reported Beatty is in critical condition at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston. She has had four surgeries, WFAA reported. 'You can tell, like, that she’s fighting for her life and that she’s fighting to be here and that she wants to live,' Beatty’s friend Bri Copeland told KBTX. 'She’s still in very critical condition, we’re just worried about her brain right now, it’s the main thing we’re worried about.' Puga has been charged with intoxication assault, evading arrest and accident involving serious bodily injury. He was booked at Brazos County Jail Saturday and released the next day on bond, according to jail records.
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  • Ten years ago, large swaths of metro Atlanta were flooded when unrelenting rain fell from Sept. 15-22, 2009 on already-saturated ground. Roads were impassable, bridges were underwater, homes were inundated and even roller coasters at Six Flags were submerged. The floods were record-breaking, catastrophic, and left a lasting impact for the metro area. The flooding There already were record levels of moisture when storms developed in the area on Sept. 15, said Laura Belanger, a senior service hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. Then the storms continued with near-constant rainfall for more than a week. “We had pretty wet conditions late that summer,” said Belanger, who was an intern at the NWS in 2009. The flooding peaked overnight Sept. 20 and into Sept. 21. Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Bartow and Cherokee counties all got at least five to seven inches of rain in a 24-hour period that began on the evening of Sept. 20. It was worse in Cobb and Douglas counties. One Douglas location was swamped with more than 21 inches of rain in 24 hours, Belanger said. Cobb County hit hard Sweetwater Creek’s levels rose to 20 feet above flood stage — soaring past the creek’s previous high-water mark of nine feet above flood level. The Austell area, in particular, sustained quite a bit of damage. The Great American Scream Machine, a roller coaster at Six Flags, was mostly under water. “It was not something that we’d really seen before,” Belanger said. Jim and Margaret Hobbs live in Vinings, on the Chattahoochee River. They’d raised their home seven feet in the 1980s, when wet weather had caused water to fill their yard. After the 2009 flood, they raised it again. “This was a real flood,” Jim Hobbs said. “It was scary.” There was almost two feet of water on the first floor of the Hobbs’ home, he said. When it receded, they had mold, and the mud stuck like concrete. “It was a mess,” Margaret Hobbs said. “It was nasty.” 2011 VIDEO: Flood damaged homes demolished It took more than a year to set everything back to normal. Margaret Hobbs said the flooding has had a lasting impact on her — she’s always nervous when there are heavy rains. But she said the disaster brought neighbors together. “We say we live on the river, and sometimes in the river,” she said. The roads Natalie Dale, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said flooding on highways was exacerbated by blocked drains. Leaf debris and other trash clogged the system, and made it harder for the water to drain off roadways. There was significant flooding on the downtown connector, I-20 and I-575, as well as Stone Mountain freeway. All were closed. Rivers often overwhelmed bridges and roads, leading to closures across the metro area. Many residents took to boats to check on neighbors or move belongings. Belanger said the speed with which the water overtook roads was one of the factors that led to phone alerts warning about flash flooding. There were more than 100 rescues across the metro area. The damage Eleven people died in the storms, including 10 in Georgia. Of those, eight died in their cars as they tried to traverse floodwaters. The flooding also did a lot of damage. Belanger said the official estimate of $500 million is likely an undercount, since the figures don’t include the cost of debris removal. More than 20,000 homes and businesses were damaged. Cobb County purchased more than 75 homes in flood hazard areas and more than 125 acres of vacant floodplain. In Sandy Springs, three homes destroyed by the 2009 flood were torn down and replaced with Windsor Meadows passive park. The damage included the replacement of several bridges that were washed out. Seventeen counties received federal disaster declarations.
  • Police in New York said Tuesday that they've located the grandparents of a 3-year-old boy found sleeping Monday morning in a box on a woman's porch. >> Read more trending news  The boy was found about a mile away from a burned car that contained possible human remains, though authorities did not immediately link the two incidents. Update 1:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 17: Two women identified as grandmothers of the boy found Monday morning on Potomac Avenue have traveled from Florida to New York, according to WGRZ-TV. Buffalo police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said Tuesday at a news conference that police were working with the women and with Child Protective Services to reunite them with their grandson. 'I am praying that they return him today to us. It's all I want. Please return him back to us,' Zenaida Colon, one of the boy's grandmother's, told WGRZ-TV. 'He is a loved child. His parents loved him very much and was always with him. They were great parents.' Family members told WKBW-TV they last heard from the boy's parents, 24-year-old Nicole Mersed and 31-year-old Migel Valentin, on Sunday. Colon told WIVB-TV she believes Noelvin was vacationing in Buffalo with his parents and a friend. The whereabouts of the boy's parents and their friend remained unknown Tuesday, though Rinaldo said investigators believe they arrived in Buffalo late Sunday. Police plan to release images of the trio later Tuesday. Police said they found a burned car Monday about a mile from where Noelvin was discovered. Investigators were working Tuesday to identify human remains found inside the vehicle, which was so badly damaged that officers were unable to positively identify its make or model. Rinaldo said it remained unclear Tuesday whether multiple remains had been recovered from the burned car. 'We will not know the identities of the people found in the vehicle for quite some time,' he said, adding that forensic anthropologists were assisting in the investigation. Original report: Authorities in Buffalo, New York, found a burned car containing possible human remains just one mile away from the home where a woman discovered a sleeping toddler on her porch Monday morning, police said. According to WIVB-TV, Buffalo police found the vehicle about 6 p.m. Monday outside a Black Rock storage facility on Tonawanda Street. Investigators did not say whose remains may have been inside or whether the incident was connected to the 3-year-old boy found alone on nearby Potomac Avenue hours earlier. Homeowner Lori Ausberger told WIVB that she spotted the child on her porch, curled up with a blanket in a box, about 8 a.m.  'I said, 'Where's your mommy, honey?'' she told WKBW. 'He said, 'The car's on fire.' That's all he kept saying.' Investigators are trying to identify the parents of the boy, who was placed in Child Protective Services' care, WHEC reported.