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National Govt & Politics
With the President on the road, what's next for the Trump agenda in Congress
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With the President on the road, what's next for the Trump agenda in Congress

With the President on the road, what's next for the Trump agenda in Congress
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

With the President on the road, what's next for the Trump agenda in Congress

Even as President Donald Trump is on an extended foreign trip, there will be a lot of domestic news developing this week as his budget for 2018 is released, though action on the Trump spending plan and a number of other major agenda items is still uncertain on Capitol Hill.

Here is where we are on major issues in the Congress, as lawmakers get ready to leave Washington later this week for a ten day break, anchored by Memorial Day:

1. Health care overhaul legislation. In terms of major legislation, this is the brightest spot for the agenda of the Trump White House and GOP leaders. The House passed its version of health care on May 4, and now that political hot potato is in the hands of Senators. There have been frequent meetings involving Republicans, and even some bipartisan negotiations as well, but no indications as yet of an emerging deal. Remember - all other major legislation is waiting on health care in the Congress, because of the unique parliamentary situation involving this bill. The longer it takes for the GOP to forge a deal, the longer everything else stays on hold. Oh, and did I mention the possibility that the House might have to vote on the health care bill again? We'll save that for later this week.

2. Waiting for the details of tax reform. Republicans held their first hearing on tax reform last week in the House, and will have another hearing this coming week in the Senate. But apart from that, there is no timeline on when lawmakers will come forward with the details of a bill. The White House only issued a one page summary with some bullet points on what the President wants to in terms of tax changes - as that rundown left dozens of issues unaddressed. Tax lobbyists are gearing up to do a lot of work in the months ahead. Speaker Paul Ryan said this past week he still hopes to get tax reform done by the end of the year. It will not be easy.

3. Trump budget coming out on Tuesday. After sending Congress what is known as the "skinny budget," President Trump's administration will now fill in the details of his spending plans for 2018, and there will be a lot of headlines about reductions in entitlements like Medicaid. With the Trump White House ready to cut all sorts of discretionary programs as well, these details will spur all sorts of press stories and lawmaker statements about what should not be cut and more. Remember, the Congress doesn't have to do anything with this budget document, but it is still is a good indicator of what the President would like to see done in terms of spending at the federal level. Whether it goes anywhere in Congress is another issue entirely.

4. Don't hold your breath on a balanced budget. As I reported earlier this month, the Trump budget details to be released this week are not expected to bring about a balanced budget for ten years - after President Trump has left office. That is a standard GOP plan from Congress. The last time the feds balanced the budget was at the end of President Bill Clinton's time in office. The budget deficit is estimated to be around $500 billion this year.

5. Congress behind on spending bills - again. Lawmakers have only just started holding some hearings on the 2018 budget - those will accelerate with the release of the Trump budget details this week. But the bottom line is that the Congress has almost no chance of finishing its budget work on time - by September 30 - as there will almost certainly be the need for a temporary stop gap budget later this year, with the threat of a government shutdown thrown in for good measure. I'm old enough to remember the days when Congress had real debates and real votes on the House and Senate floors about spending during the months of June and July. That doesn't happen much anymore.

6. The Congressional schedule. Congress will work next week, and then take a ten day break from Washington, wrapping around Memorial Day. From there, lawmakers are scheduled to be in session for four weeks in June, and three weeks in July, followed by a five week break until after Labor Day. If you hear a member of Congress tell you that they didn't have enough time to tackle certain issues, you can lob something at the TV screen, because that's not true.

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News

  • 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.
  • An Orlo Vista, Florida, man believes someone brutally tortured and killed his dog after finding it burned to death in an ash pile down the street from his home. >> Read more trending news The Chihuahua, Stink, never left the side of Rick Parmenter. 'She was so wonderful,' Parmenter told WFTV. 'Anyone who has been to a concert in the Orlando area knows Stink.' Rick's grandson found the dog's charred remains with her collar still on in an ash pile surrounded by beer cans and bottles behind a business. The family posted missing signs and even offered a $200 reward after Stink escaped the family home Saturday morning. Rick said he cannot imagine why someone would hurt such a little dog. Animal crime investigators continue to search for clues and speak with those who live nearby while officials conduct a necropsy to learn how exactly Stink died. 'The findings on that will help, you know how forensics are these days,' said Paramenter. 'So we'll see what happens.' Although the family has its suspicions about who might have been involved with the dog's death, no one has been arrested for the crime.