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National Govt & Politics
Senate Republicans stumble in drive for GOP tax reform bill
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Senate Republicans stumble in drive for GOP tax reform bill

Senate Republicans stumble in drive for GOP tax reform bill
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Senate Republicans stumble in drive for GOP tax reform bill

An expected vote on a sweeping package of tax cuts and reforms failed to materialize on Thursday evening in the U.S. Senate, as GOP leaders were forced to renew negotiations with a small group of Republican Senators, following a review which showed that the tax cuts would not spur anywhere near enough economic growth to pay for themselves, instead adding $1 trillion to the federal deficit over ten years.

Republicans had thought they were cruising along to victory in the Senate, planning for a late night vote to approve a GOP tax reform bill - but as the hours dragged on, they didn't have the deals in place to finalize that measure, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a Friday session, where the GOP will try again.

"They still don’t have enough votes to pass this awful bill," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Several items were causing trouble for Republicans - as like during the debate over how to overhaul the Obama health law - GOP leaders were just trying to get to 50 votes, so the Vice President could break a tie.

First, a review by Congressional number crunchers showed the GOP plan would still add just over $1 trillion to the national debt over ten years, even when dynamic scoring was used, to factor in extra economic growth spurred by tax reductions.

The review by the Joint Committee on Taxation, differed from one done by the Congressional Budget Office, which had found the bill would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion over ten years.

Then, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled against one GOP idea for a "trigger," which would have triggered tax increases in later years to bring in more revenue, if the plan failed to generate enough tax receipts in the future due to lower than anticipated economic growth.

"My Republican colleagues are scrambling," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), "searching and scrambling for a so-called trigger."

But indications were the GOP was looking at much more than just the trigger, trying to forge even more last minute deals, as there is still no 'final' bill language for either party to evaluate.

Earlier in the day, there had been promising signs - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who torpedoed the health care plan back in late July, said he was on board with tax reform.

"I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families," McCain said.

But then on the floor, there was suddenly trouble from a trio of GOP Senators - Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. Jeff Flakes (R-AZ), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) - as they held up a vote for nearly an hour, while about a dozen Republicans haggled over different tax plans.

Outnumbered, Democrats could only stand on the sidelines and appeal for the GOP to reach out across the aisle, something that seemed unlikely.

"This bill is too important to rush – we need to get it right," said Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an Independent who sides with Democrats in the Senate.

"The tax bill before us is not for the middle class," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

It was not readily apparent what Republicans would change in their bill, or if they would be able to forge a final deal on Friday. And at this point, there is still no actual final bill.

"Read the bill. Read the bill," mocked Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), invoking a favored line of Republicans.

"Every Senator should be asked tomorrow if they’ve read the bill," Schatz tweeted late on Thursday night.

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News

  • A suspect died Friday morning after opening fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing at least three people and injuring seven others. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the shooting was reported just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office exchanged gunfire with the suspected shooter, killing him, officials said. Here are the latest updates: Update 9:58 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Two of the three victims in the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola were identified. Mohammed “Mo” Haitham, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was killed as he tried to stop the shooter, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Haitham, 19, joined the Navy after graduating high school last year. He was assigned to flight crew training and was expected to graduate later this month. “He said he was going to get his flight jacket for Christmas,” his mother, Evelyn Brady, who also served in the Navy, told the Times. Update 3:08 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Authorities said Mohammed Saeed Ashamrani, the Saudi student who fatally shot three people at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola hosted a dinner party earlier in the week, and he and three other people watched videos of mass shootings, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The official was briefed by federal investigators, according to the AP. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, whose district includes the Pensacola area, tweeted he received condolences from Saudi Ambassador Reema Al-Saud, WEAR-TV reported. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported “Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own,” Adam Johnson wrote Friday night. ”After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. 'He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.” Watson’s father, Benjamin Watson, told the News Journal his son was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting. Joshua Watson was shot at least five times, his father told the newspaper. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported. Update 9:30 p.m. EST Dec. 6: The shooter has been identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani according to WKRG. He is one of hundreds of international military members who are receiving training there. In a news conference Friday night, the FBI declined to comment on his possible motivations. “There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.” Update 2:25 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities declined to confirm the identity of the person who shot several people Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people before being shot and killed by deputies. “I think there’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this indivdual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi Air Force and then to be here training on our soil and to do this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning at a news conference. “The FBI is working with (the Department of Defense), they’re working with (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement), they’re working with Escambia County sheriff’s to answer those questions.” DeSantis said he spoke earlier Friday with President Donald Trump. “One of the things that I talked to the president about is given that this was a foreign national in the employ of a foreign service ... obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for the victims,' DeSantis said. 'I think that they, they are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.” Authorities confirmed at a news conference that the suspect used a handgun in Friday’s shooting. Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola, said the suspect was at NAS Pensacola for aviation training. Earlier in the day, deputies said the suspect opened fire just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 1:45 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities in Pensacola are expected to provide an update Friday afternoon on the investigation into the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that left four people dead. Update 1:20 p.m. EST Dec. 6: President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon that he’s spoken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and received a full briefing on the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Trump said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.” Update 12:50 p.m. EST Dec. 6: An official told The Associated Press that the person who opened fire Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people and wounding several others before being shot and killed by authorities, was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. Authorities are investigating to determine whether the shooting was terrorism-related, according to the AP. Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Authorities are expected to hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. local time Friday to update the public on the investigation. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities expect to hold a news conference at 12 p.m. local time Friday to provide more updates on the shooting that left four people dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities said a total of 11 people were injured or killed in Friday morning’s shooting, including the suspected shooter. The injured included two responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan said Friday at a news conference. One deputy was shot in the arm and the other was shot in the knee, Morgan said. They were both expected to survive. Morgan described walking through the scene left by Friday’s attack as being similar to “being in a movie.” “You just don’t expect this to happen here at home,” he said. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials are holding a news conference to update the public on Friday morning’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Update 10:25 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Vice President Mike Pence said he’s monitoring the situation in Florida after a shooting left two victims and a suspect dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “Praying for the victims & their families,” Pence wrote Friday morning in a Twitter post. “We commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety.”  Update 10:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: White House officials said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the deadly shooting reported Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 10:15 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with Naval Air Station Pensacola said the base will closed for the day Friday after a shooting left three people dead earlier in the day. Authorities said at least three people, including the suspected shooter, were killed in the incident. Reports indicated at least eight other people were wounded in the shooting. The incident happened two days after authorities said a U.S. sailor shot and killed two civilian employees before turning the gun on himself at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. One other person was injured in that shooting. Naval Air Station Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to officials. Update 10:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said his office has been in “close contact with all the relevant officials & closely monitoring events” after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing two people. Authorities said the shooter also died. “Please pray for everyone impacted by this horrible situation,” Rubio said in a Twitter post. Update 10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: A spokesman at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital told CNN that hospital officials expected to get three patients who had been injured in Friday morning’s shooting, down from the six expected earlier in the day. Hospital spokesman Mike Burke told the news network most victims were taken to Baptist Hospital because of its proximity to the base. Kathy Bowers, a spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital, earlier told the Pensacola News Journal that the hospital had received five patients wounded in Friday’s shooting. Update 9:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy have confirmed that a second person has died after a shooter opened fire Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 9:35 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials told the Pensacola News Journal two people were confirmed dead after Friday morning’s shooting, in addition to the shooter. Naval officials previously said at least one person had been killed. Update 9:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: At least 11 people were hospitalized in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting, according to The Associated Press. Ascension Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke told the AP six people were taken to the hospital after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola early Friday. The Pensacola News Journal previously reported five other people were taken to Baptist Hospital with injuries. Naval officials said at least one victim was killed in Friday’s shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 9:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy said at least one person died Friday morning in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Authorities said the suspected shooter was also dead Friday morning. Update 9 a.m. EST Dec. 6: An official with Baptist Hospital told the Pensacola News Journal five patients were taken to the hospital after Friday morning’s reported shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 8:55 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said a suspected shooter was dead Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Original report: Authorities are responding Friday morning to reports of shots fired at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to base officials. Authorities at NAS Pensacola said both gates to the base were closed Friday morning as authorities investigated. Officials with the U.S. Navy said the base was on lockdown around 7:45 a.m. local time. A spokeswoman for ECSO told the Pensacola News Journal deputies were working to “take down” what was described as an active shooter around 7:30 a.m. local time. Officials with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office told WEAR-TV injuries were reported. Details on the number of people wounded and the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • A Houston police officer was fatally shot Saturday, officials said. >> Read more trending news  Update 9:35 p.m. EDT Dec. 9: The shooter was taken into custody shortly later about a block away, KTRK reported. It is unclear what led to the shooting. Original report:  A Houston police officer was shot and injured Saturday, officials said. The officer was taken to a hospital. The extent of their injuries is unknown. The shooter is still on the loose.
  • A Detroit rapper best known for his work with Eminem was arrested Friday after an 18-year-old man was shot. >> Read more trending news  Obie Trice, 42, and his girlfriend were fighting at his home when her son intervened, investigators said. When she and her son tried to leave, Trice allegedly went and got a gun. The teen tried to take it from Trice. The two struggled and the firearm discharged, investigators said. The teen was struck in the groin and taken to a hospital with a fractured pelvis. He was later released. Deputies ordered Trice to drop a handgun, which they said was unregistered, and then he was taken into custody. Trice was arrested and charged with aggravated felony assault, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. Trice has had previous run-ins with authorities. Sheriff’s officials said he was convicted of assault and battery in 2002. He was shot while driving on a Detroit-area highway in December 2005. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A family’s dog alerted them to a fire early Friday morning, allowing them to safely escape. >> Read more trending news  The dog, named Sammy, started barking around 1 a.m., awakening her owners, allowing the five people inside to get out uninjured, Savannah Fire Rescue said. Two cats and another dog died in the flames Investigators believe the blaze was sparked by a faulty deep freezer. “I would encourage everyone this time of the year to make sure their smoke detectors are working at all times, but smoke detectors are a vital part of making sure you are able to get out of the structure in time,” Ira Harper, Savannah Fire battalion chief, told WGAL.
  • In the springtime, the Embry-Riddle University baseball team can be found on the diamond. >> Read more trending news  But on a recent Saturday afternoon, they traded in their bats and gloves for golf clubs, thinking they would relax and have some fun. But then they were thrown a curveball. The four athletes were on hole six at Pelican Bay’s Golf Courses when it happened. John Devine, a senior and right fielder, was about to hit the ball when his teammate Cody Forster heard something in the water. 'I just heard a splash in the water, wasn't sure what it was. And I looked over and I see a little way down, there (are) blades sticking out of the water and a tire.' It was a lawnmower. “I kept thinking to myself, there’s a guy under here and he’s going to drown, and it’s going to be my fault,” said Josh Reynolds, a first baseman and sophomore. Forster, who plays shortstop on the team, sprinted 75 years to the canal. 'Cody didn't even hesitate; he did an Olympic dive into the water,' Devine said. And like true teammates, when Forster jumped in, they all jumped in. At 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 260 pounds, Reynolds is the biggest player on the team. He’s also a record-holder in the weight room. But when he first tried to lift the half-ton lawnmower, it wouldn’t budge. That's when he felt someone grab his arm. 'I think that was the first time I ever felt God in my body, when I felt his hand,' Reynolds said. 'It was like a warmth came over me and just the strength to get it up.' Eventually, the face of Paul Piloto, a father of four, came to the surface. “There was a lot of fear in his eyes,” Reynolds said. “That will probably stick with me forever, getting him up and seeing his face break the water. He was eyes wide open, coughing up water.” Once all four Eagles could get their arms under the mower, Piloto was finally free. 'He was saying he was probably five seconds away from passing out and already said his mental goodbyes to his family and children,' Forster said. After catching their breath, they walked off with a victory they'll never forget. “It really shows you how you can’t take anything for granted,” said Mike Lawson, a second baseman and senior. “Every morning you wake up, you’ve got to thank God that you’re awake.” The players said they didn’t even think about their cellphones or clothes, or even gators in the water, before they dived in. Piloto is doing fine and didn’t go to the hospital to be checked out. His family is now permanently on the baseball team’s guest list.
  • Patients en route to Grady Memorial were redirected to other hospitals Saturday afternoon after a water pipe burst on the sixth floor. In a statement Saturday night, a hospital spokeswoman said the “total diversion”  likely will last through through midweek as “it is estimated that the water pipe and water damage repairs will take until Wednesday, December 11.” In a statement earlier in the day, Grady spokeswoman Denise Simpson said the break caused flooding in some patient care areas of the facility.  “The source was immediately identified and crews are on site to address the issue,” Simpson said. “As a result of the split, several patient care rooms are now unusable and patients have been evacuated to other dedicated patient care locations in the hospital.” “Total diversion” means paramedics are being asked to take patients with emergencies to other hospitals, she said.  In the Saturday night statement, Simpson said, “However, the extent of the damage and steps required to repair the pipe and patient care rooms make it necessary for us to put patient care first and transfer patients to other metro area hospitals. Of the 700 patients currently in the hospital, 150 have been identified for transfer to other facilities.”