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National Govt & Politics
Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress
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Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress

Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress

While President Donald Trump has been active in churning out executive actions to follow through on some of his campaign promises, his legislative agenda in the Congress has not jumped out of the starting gate on Capitol Hill, as he continues to look to chalk up his first significant legislative achievement.

Here is where we stand on a number of fronts in Washington:

1. GOP health care overhaul remains in limbo. The one major issue where Republicans have tried to take action is on the Obama health law, but those plans remain bogged down in the Congress. Yes, there was a lot of noise in the halls of the Capitol this week about Republicans making another big try at finding agreement on health care, but there was no real evidence that an agreement was near, as the GOP remains short on votes, but filled with internal finger pointing over who is blame for the failure. President Trump has tried to use the bully pulpit to get more conservative Republicans in line, but it hasn't worked so far, as members of the House Freedom Caucus have said repeatedly that they aren't going to sign on to a plan that is "Obamacare Lite."

2. Trump Tax Reform plan not ready for prime time. While there was talk of moving quickly on to tax reform in the immediate aftermath of the Republican troubles on health care, the White House made clear this week that there is no plan ready to be rolled out just yet. "The team is weighing the best option to develop a plan that will provide significant middle-class tax relief and make American businesses more competitive," said spokesman Sean Spicer. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said last week that he believes a plan could be passed by the House and Senate by August - but that prediction was met with raised eyebrows in the halls of Congress, where it's been over 30 years since the last tax reform package made it through the House and Senate. There's a simple reason why - it's not easy.

3. Money for the border wall seems to be on hold. While President Trump has long talked about building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, squeezing money immediately out of the Congress for that might not happen. The White House wants $1 billion in funding in a measure that will fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year, through the end of September. But Democrats have made clear they will filibuster any bill that has money for the wall, which could lead to a government shutdown. Key GOP lawmakers say that money for the wall may have to wait until later this year, and they especially don't like one part of the Trump plan, which would make cuts at the National Institutes of Health as part of that spending package. The wall sounds great - but there are a number of Republicans who don't feel it's a funding priority.

4. The Congressional schedule and a government shutdown. Also standing in the way of quick action on any Trump legislative agenda items is the schedule for Congress, which will be in session next week, and then take two weeks off for an Easter break. Once lawmakers return on April 17, they will have eight scheduled legislative business days to figure out how to avoid a government shutdown on April 28. April 29 will mark the 100th day of President Trump's time in office; Republicans don't want to have to mark that day with a government that is not open for business. We could well repeat the whole government shutdown threat at the end of September as well. It will be interesting to see how the President handles that, plus the need to raise the debt limit later this year.

5. White House notes renaming of VA clinic - in Pago Pago. During Friday's White House briefing, something from Press Secretary Sean Spicer caught my ear, as he was rattling off bills that the President would be signing. Most of the new laws approved so far by Mr. Trump have been special resolutions that repeal certain rules and regulations of the Obama Administration - but this one was much more limited, as Spicer noted, "H.R. 1362, naming a VA outpatient clinic in Pago Pago, American Samoa." That clinic was renamed for the late delegate Eni Faleomavaega, who died recently - he was a popular personality in the House for many years. But let's get down to business - VA clinics in Pago Pago weren't at the top of the Trump Legislative Agenda, and probably wasn't something you thought you would hear mentioned at the White House Briefing.

6. Continued signs of White House friction with some GOP lawmakers. This last week, President Trump used Twitter to take multiple jabs at the House Freedom Caucus, and several specific Republicans in the Congress, urging them to get on board with his agenda, including the GOP health care bill. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) said it was made plain to him that the President would try to knock him out of office in 2018. And then there was a top Trump aide who urged a primary challenger in 2018 for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). One thing I noticed in the hallways of Congress in recent weeks is those type of threats don't scare more conservative GOP lawmakers.

Yes, it's still early for President Trump. There are other agenda items like a big infrastructure package for roads and bridges, which is also not even on the table yet - as it is not obvious when he will be able to celebrate a big legislative success in Congress.

And like in sports, momentum is always important in politics.

Read More

News

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  • Authorities announced on Thursday the arrest of Chuyen Vo in connection to the stabbing death of retired administrator at a college campus in Southern California. >> Read more trending news  The man is suspected of stabbing former California State University Fullerton administrator Steven Shek Keung Chan, 57, to death Monday in a parking lot at the school. 9 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: Neighbors of the suspect said they couldn’t imagine he’d commit such a crime. Vo’s neighbor, Michael Wood, said Vo lived with his wife, mother-in-law and children and had a side job selling life insurance and annuities. Another neighbor, Gloria Venlet, said Vo always was smiling, and she’s stunned by the arrest. No one answered the door at Vo’s home. 5 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: The suspect in the stabbing death of Chan was a co-worker, according to the Washington Post.  Lt. Jon Radus said Thursday that 51-year-old Chuyen Vo was arrested Wednesday night at his home in Huntington Beach. Radus would not comment on the work relationship of the suspect and the victim, 57-year-old Steven Shek Keung Chan. Update 2:35 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: Authorities are expected to announce an arrest in the case at a news conference scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Thursday, KTLA and KABC reported. Police said they found Chan around 8:30 a.m. Monday with several stab wounds in a parking lot on the Cal State Fullerton campus. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities have said they were searching for a suspect in the case, described as an Asian man with black hair in his mid-20s. Police have not identified a suspect by name. Update 12:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 20: Police released a sketch Tuesday of the man suspected of stabbing 57-year-old Steven Shek Keung Chan to death one day earlier in a parking lot at Cal State Fullerton. Authorities said the man was last seen running northbound on Langsdorf Drive and then eastbound on Nutwood Avenue. Police believe he might have been injured in the attack and might have lacerations to one or both of his hands. Police said officers recovered a backpack which they believe belonged to the suspect during their investigation. It was found under Chen's vehicle and contained 'an incendiary device along with numerous items that were consistent with a kidnapping attempt or plot, including zip ties, wigs and other disguise materials,' police said. The bag also contained a knife separate from the one used in Monday's attack, according to authorities. Police believe Chan, who recently returned to the school as a special consultant after retiring as an administrator in 2017, was specifically targeted in the attack, according to authorities and the Los Angeles Times. Police continue to investigate. Original report: Authorities are searching for a suspect after a retired administrator was stabbed and killed Monday on a Southern California college campus. According to the Los Angeles Times, authorities said Steven Shek Keung Chan, 57, of Hacienda Heights, had several stab wounds when police found him in his car, which was parked in a lot on California State University's Fullerton campus, about 8:30 a.m. Monday. Police also discovered an 'incendiary device,' which did not go off, nearby, the newspaper reported. Police believe the assailant specifically targeted Chan, who recently returned as a special consultant after retiring as director of budget and finance and student services for extended education in 2017, the Times reported. In a tweet, university police described the suspect, who reportedly fled the scene and was still on the run late Monday, as an Asian man in his mid-20s with black hair. He was wearing black pants and a black shirt, authorities said. No further information was immediately available. In a letter to students, faculty and staff, university President Framroze Virjee called the attack 'tragic and senseless.' 'As the investigation into Steven’s death is ongoing, we are unable to provide information beyond what the Fullerton Police share publicly,' the letter read. 'What I can do, however, is join all of you in adding to the tremendous outreach of love and support that has already embraced our Titan Family during this tragic and difficult time. That begins with pausing in thought and prayer for Steven, his family, and all Titans who are grieving and grappling with the reality of such an unspeakable act and tragic loss in our community.' >> Read the full letter here Read more here.
  • A woman in Seminole County, Florida, is calling her husband a hero after their family was able to escape a fire that destroyed their home. >> Read more trending news The fire happened Tuesday before 7 a.m. at a mobile home near Altamonte Springs. The couple have a blended family with 10 children ranging from 1 month old to 18 years old. Seven of them were inside the home when it caught fire. Nicole Torres had just dropped off two of the children at school when she pulled back up to her home five minutes later and found it on fire. She said her husband had just lain down when he woke up to find his kitchen in flames. 'He was screaming, 'Fire, fire' running from room to room, trying to get all of our children out.' Her husband had injuries to his arms, feet and shoulders from searching inside the home to get all the children out. One of the boys was trapped in a bedroom and had to be pulled out of a window by the father. 'I will never get this out of my head,' Torres said. 'I will never stop reliving this moment in my head, that I thought my babies were in there burning alive and they survived. He got them out.' The children are now living with Torres' ex-husband, the father of four of the children. He said he took the children in so they wouldn't be split up while the family searches for a new home. 'We will just have to rebuild somehow or another,' Torres said. 'We will get back on our feet.' The fire marshal believes the cause of the fire may an electrical issue.  If you'd like to donate to help the family get back on their feet, click here. 
  • The Medical Examiner’s Office in Fulton County, Georgia, admits it shipped the remains of a suspected murder victim via FedEx, and now it doesn’t know where they are. >> Read more trending news Chief Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak told WSB-TV it sent the remains of Jeffrey Merriweather Jr. to an expert in St. Louis for evaluation in June.  “Since he was partially skeletonized, we couldn’t determine a cause of death,” she said.  However, the remains never made it out of state. Package tracking shows they arrived at a FedEx warehouse in Austell, but no one has seen them since, the news station reported.  Merriweather’s mother Kathleen calls it a “nightmare you can’t wake up from.”  Her husband, Jeffrey Merriweather Sr., said they had to have a funeral service without their son’s body.  “We’re already dealing with the death of him,” he said, “and now this. This is unacceptable to us.”  Merriweather was reported missing June 12 after someone fired shots in the parking lot of an East Point McDonald’s, AJC.com previously reported.  The 31-year-old father of three went to the restaurant on Virginia Avenue the day of the shooting in a black SUV. At some point, he exited the vehicle and got into a white Toyota 4Runner. Then, someone started shooting at the Toyota, police told the news station. Both vehicles drove off, video surveillance footage obtained by WSB-TV showed.  Merriweather was later found dead. The details of what led to his death remain unclear.  A FedEx representative said it is working with the Medical Examiner’s Office to find the missing remains. Gorniak said her office is reviewing policies to make sure this doesn't happen again.  The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact 678-614-7049. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by calling Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.
  • A 26-year-old man stole a rare miniature schnauzer worth $17,000 from a breeder for whom he worked and took the dog with him to Michigan, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said. >> Read more trending news  Investigators said Jacob Parker Lauer admitted to stealing the breeding dog, named Asiago, from Vera Clark on May 13 before moving to Highland, Michigan. Clark, a dog breeder, said Lauer lived in a trailer behind her home and worked for her, caring for puppies, an arrest report said. The kennel manager notified Clark that Lauer and his husband had not turned up for their shifts and had sent a text message, saying they were leaving and not returning because they were fed up with how they were being treated by Clark, the report said. The report said Clark went to the trailer and saw that the men, their belongings, their car and the dog were gone. Clark asked a deputy to look at the trailer, which he described as being 'impeccably clean,' the report said. 'Nothing was out of order. Nothing was damaged,' the deputy said in the report. 'In fact, the men had stripped the bed and made sure the toilet was flushed.' Clark was reunited with her dog Aug. 11. She said Thursday that the reunion brought her great joy. 'When he came here, it was like Christmas. It was like 10 Christmases,' Clark said. 'The dog is not just a dog. It's a family member, and to many people, it's their child. ... Your heart is ripped into a thousand pieces.' She said the allegations against Lauer were surprising because she was so close to him. 'It was a shock to us because we really depended (on him.) We trusted him,' Clark said. 'I even included him in my trust.' Lauer was charged with grand theft. He was released from the Seminole County Jail on Thursday after paying bail.
  • Actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is the highest paid male actor in the world, according to Forbes' annual list, raking in $89.4 million between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019. >> Read more trending news  The 'Hobbs & Shaw' star has a pretty good deal when it comes to his pay scale, the magazine reported. He collected an upfront payment of $23.5 million for his upcoming movie 'Jumanji: The Next Level,' $700,000 per episode of HBO's 'Ballers' and seven-figure royalties from his Under Armour line. Behind Johnson, at No. 2 and No. 3, are 'Avengers: Endgame' stars Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr., respectively. Hemsworth made an estimated $76.4 million in the past year and Downey collected some $66 million, Forbes reported. Rounding out the top 10 are Akshay Kumar with $65 million in earnings, Jackie Chan with $58 million, Bradley Cooper and Adam Sandler tied at No. 6 and making $57 million each, Chris Evans with $43.5 million, Paul Rudd with with $41 million and Will Smith in the 10th spot earning $35 million. Actor and entrepreneur George Clooney made the top spot on Forbes' list of the highest paid actors last year, with Johnson coming in second.