Quantcast
Loading...
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

older | 1 | .... | 1100 | 1101 | (Page 1102) | 1103 | 1104 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As a candidate, President Trump called for the largest expansion of the Navy since the Reagan administration, but his latest budget proposal contains more modest short-term increases.

    Still, it would boost business in the U.S. shipbuilding industry, which, despite serious safety violations in the past decade, continues to win billions of dollars in contracts to build Navy and Coast Guard vessels.

    Aubrey Aden-Buie of Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, has the story.

    JOHN WILLIAMS: I love you, baby doll.

    WANDA WILLIAMS, John’s Wife: I love you, too.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Wanda Williams’ life changed forever when her sister-in-law rushed to her house in 2014.

    WANDA WILLIAMS: And she got out of the car crying. And she said that John got hurt and he was hurt really bad.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Wanda’s husband, John, nearly died in an accident at the shipyard where he worked.

    WANDA WILLIAMS: We would have never thought that this would have happened to him, because this is things that he did every single day. He went to work as my husband, and he came home as a child.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Wanda now takes care of her husband 24 hours a day.

    The accident happened three years ago at a VT Halter Mississippi shipyard. A surveillance camera recorded as Williams’ crane lost balance and suddenly tipped over. His co-worker, Willie Horne, saw it happen.

    WILLIE HORNE, Former Rigger Operator, VT Halter Marine: The boom pulled back and it just bounced back all kind of ways. And he was just messed up. His head was crushed. That stuff like that, it’s just something that you just can’t forget like that.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: The accident crushed Williams’ skull and left him blind. For months before the accident, he had complained about the crane’s broken load sensor. VT Halter re-installed the sensor two days earlier, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, later determined it wasn’t fully operational.

    There is a history of serious accidents at VT Halter. A few years earlier, two workers were killed applying paint thinner inside a tugboat. In this crawlspace, while working with insufficient ventilation and without explosion-proof lights, vapors built up over 600 times the legal limit, igniting in a flash fire.

    Joey Pettey barely escaped the blast.

    JOEY PETTEY: The explosion, when it happened, it blew doors and hatches and electrical panels, boom, boom, boom. When that third one hit, it blew it out.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: OSHA investigated and called that accident horrific and preventable, and fined the company over $800,000.

    But a month following the explosion, the Navy awarded VT Halter the contract to build this ship, worth $87 million.

    JOEY PETTEY, Former Painter, VT Halter Marine: The contracts are pretty hefty amounts, and the fines is really low. It seems like a slap on the wrist when you got that kind of money rolling around.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: We repeatedly reached out to VT Halter, but they declined to comment or to be interviewed.

    They’re one of seven major U.S. shipbuilders that contract with the Navy and Coast Guard. Our review of federal contracts, court records, and OSHA files found that, since 2008, the federal government has awarded more than $100 billion to these companies, despite serious safety lapses that have endangered and killed workers.

    In neighboring Mobile, Alabama, Austal USA is building some of the country’s newest naval vessels. Huge aluminum modules are assembled into warships on the banks of the Mobile River. But dozens of its workers have been injured by a power tool used to cut through metal.

    Their own top safety manager dubbed it the widow maker.

    MARTIN OSBORN, Welder, Austal USA: The day of my accident, I was using the miller, as it is called at Austal.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Martin Osborn is a welder at Austal.

    MARTIN OSBORN: I was up in a boom lift, as we call it, or a man lift, up in the air about 40 feet, cutting a lifting lug off the side of a module, and had a violent kickback. It kicked out of my hands and went across my left hand, cutting me pretty bad. I didn’t take my glove off, because, I knew if I did that, I would have blood everywhere.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Before Osborn’s accident, Austal modified the Metabo grinder by replacing the standard disc with a sawtooth blade made by an outside company. This made the tool more versatile, able to cut through aluminum more quickly.

    But the manufacturer of the grinder specifically warned against using these blades, saying they cause frequent kickback and loss of control.

    MARTIN OSBORN: I have seen pictures of people getting cut in their face, in their necks, in their thighs. It’s the most dangerous tool I have ever put in my hands.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Does Austal know that the tool is as dangerous as it is?

    MARTIN OSBORN: Yes, ma’am, they do.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Company e-mails among Austal’s managers obtained by Reveal show that, even before Osborn’s accident, they called the modification lethal, and the grinders an accident waiting to happen.

    Yet, according to Osborn, Austal workers still use the grinder daily.

    MARTIN OSBORN: I have had numerous supervisors tell me that, you know, if you don’t want to use the tool, go get a job at Burger King.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Despite repeated requests, Austal declined to comment for this story. The company has received more than $6 billion in Navy contracts since 2008.

    But when OSHA concluded the saw exposed workers to amputations, severe lacerations, and other injuries, they fined the shipyard just over $4,000. Austal’s own records show at least 50 workers were injured by the tool in four years.

    BRIAN DUNCAN, Attorney: Why would any manufacturer or any company continue to use a tool after dozens and dozens of people have been injured?

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Attorney Brian Duncan is representing Osborn, along with eight others, in a lawsuit which he hopes will bring more than just compensation.

    BRIAN DUNCAN: I hope, when there are companies out there that have intentionally, knowingly violated safety standards, that somebody will come in, in that scenario and will hold those people accountable.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: David Michaels, the head of OSHA under former President Obama, was until recently in charge of enforcing workplace safety laws. He acknowledges that OSHA’s maximum penalties are insufficient, capped by federal law.

    DAVID MICHAELS, George Washington University School of Public Health: They’re tiny compared to the contracts that many of these companies get from the government and from the private sector.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: He says that the real power the government holds is in awarding the contracts themselves.

    DAVID MICHAELS: The biggest fine is a million dollars, two million dollars. That is petty cash for these companies that get $100 million, $200 million, $300 million contracts from the Defense Department to build ships that are protecting the United States. We need to be protecting our workers as much as protecting our shores.

    MATTHEW PAXTON, President, Shipbuilders Council of America: I know Navy puts a high priority on safety, as do our shipyards that are building those ships.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: President of the Shipbuilders Council of America, Matthew Paxton, says the government does consider safety records when awarding contracts.

    MATTHEW PAXTON: I think they take that into a whole lot of considerations that they have to figure out on their contracting end. And there’s many requirements that go into that beyond safety. But safety’s in there.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Yet, the Navy’s history of awarding contracts to companies with repeated violations suggests that it places little emphasis on safety records.

    NAVSEA, the Naval command responsible for shipbuilding contracts, declined an on-camera interview, but a spokesperson said in an e-mail that it’s up to OSHA, not the Navy, to enforce federal safety laws.

    They added: “We are not the overlords of private shipyards when it comes to workplace safety.”

    DAVID MICHAELS: The Navy has the power. They can easily say, if workers are hurt, if you don’t follow the basic commonsense safety rules, you don’t get any more contracts. That would have a huge impact.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Former President Obama signed an executive order that required companies to disclose three years of safety violations when vying for large federal contracts. But a federal court blocked that order. And, this spring, Congress drafted a resolution to overturn it altogether.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: The regulations aren’t issued in a vacuum. They have real economic consequences that can harm the middle class. They can kill jobs, raise prices, depress wages and lower opportunities.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: President Trump signed the resolution into law, meaning companies don’t have to disclose their safety records when competing for contracts.

    That same month, Senator Elizabeth Warren asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into VT Halter.

    SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-Mass.: We want to get to the bottom of why people have died and what kind of responsibility the company itself has.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: Warren wants the Navy to scrutinize safety records when granting contracts to all shipbuilders.

    SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: And in the same way that they look at how much is it going to cost, they also need to look at whether or not this is a contractor who injures and kills employees.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: At Austal’s shipyard, Martin Osborn still frequently uses a sawtooth blade like the one that cost him his finger. He says nothing will change unless shipyards are made to pay a price for putting workers at risk.

    MARTIN OSBORN: We’re not worried about if you get cut or the next guy gets cut. We just put another guy in your place and move on down the road.

    AUBREY ADEN-BUIE: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Aubrey Aden-Buie in Mobile, Alabama.

    The post The government is paying billions to shipbuilders with histories of safety lapses appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans continue their internal fight over the health care bill, as polls show strong disapproval of the Republican plan. And polling in the past week indicates historically low approval for the president at this point in his first term.

    Multiple polls have Mr. Trump’s approval in the 30s or at 40, and his disapproval rating in the 50s.

    For all that, it’s time for Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    So, it’s time to talk about polls again.

    We don’t do this every week. We save it for special occasions.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Amy, seriously, there are a group of new polls, three or four polls out taken in the last week or so, that do show some slippage for the president in the last few months, particularly among independents. There’s a Washington Post poll that shows, what, a six-point slippage just since April.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right, just among — in general among independents.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    AMY WALTER: When we first started talking about the president after his inauguration, we said this is a president who is starting with the lowest approval rating of any president that’s been inaugurated. Let’s see where he goes with this.

    Instead of starting with a deep reservoir of goodwill and a honeymoon, which most presidents start with, he started with a deep — he didn’t have that reservoir of good will. Was be going to able to fill up that well?

    And the reality is, here we are, six months later, he’s actually 14 points lower than what he was. He’s not filling it up. He’s draining it even more. And where it’s draining from, it’s from independents.

    And that’s a danger point here, not just for the president, but really for members of Congress who are up in 2018. If you’re a Republican, you know your base is still behind you, Democrats have never been with you, but independents, those are the folks, especially for members who sit in sort of swing type districts, those are the people that they can’t afford to be losing by this percentage that the president’s losing by.

    If he only has a 30, 31 percent approval rating among independents, it makes it very difficult for Republicans up in 2018.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tam, we know the Trump folks already have their campaign committee up and running for reelection. How do they look at all this?

    TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: It’s not clear what the campaign is actually doing in terms of moving toward reelection. He’s held some rallies.

    President Trump tweeted over the weekend that he thought it wasn’t really that bad, that this poll wasn’t so bad. And, you know, the best thing the president could do to improve his approval rating — I guess there’s probably two things, one, maybe focus on some of the people who didn’t support him in the beginning and maybe try doing something, anything that wouldn’t be seen as strictly partisan.

    And the other thing would be, you know, like, start winning. He has — you know, he promised you are going to be so sick of winning. But, you know, he hasn’t had the major legislative accomplishments.

    The health care bill has gotten totally bogged down. It was supposed to be done maybe by April. And that’s something that his base really wanted. But he just has not done a lot of things. He did the executive orders that the base liked, but that turned off the independents and others.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we even — you and I were just — we were just talking a moment ago, Amy, about when you ask people even about impeachment, 41 percent in a Monmouth poll support impeaching the president.

    And you were just saying, for Richard Nixon at this point, it was much less than that.

    AMY WALTER: For Richard Nixon going into the summary of 1973, his overall approval rating was basically where Donald Trump’s is right now.

    The difference is the intensity of the opposition or the dislike of President Nixon among partisans. He had 25 percent approval rating among Democrats, Nixon did, in July of 1973. President Trump has about 8 percent approval rating among Democrats.

    So, the intensity of opposition to the president has always been an issue. As Tam points out, he’s not getting the intensity of support among his base. And he made that decision when he came into office. Instead of trying to grow that base, he had a very narrow base of support, very narrow support among all kinds of voters, except for Republicans.

    Instead of trying to grow it, he’s focused and doubled down on the small group of people who supported him all along.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tam, you’re talking about ways where the president could put some wins on the board.

    Health care reform is one of the issues he has been focused on. This was another question in the Washington Post/ABC poll. And this can’t be considered good news for the administration. People were asked what they think about Obamacare vs. the Republican plan.

    By 2-1, they prefer Obamacare.

    TAMARA KEITH: Which is pretty remarkable.

    Obamacare has seen — you know, it’s having better days than it ever had when President Obama was president. You know, I was out in Kentucky last week talking to voters.

    Just a few little anecdotes. One woman I talked to supported President Trump, doesn’t like Obamacare, but is deeply concerned about the Republican health care bill, in particular the Medicaid cuts.

    Another voter I talked to basically said, why the — what’s the rush? Why are they hurrying? Why don’t they slow down and do this together? He was also a Republican.

    And then one other Republican I talked to said he didn’t really know what was in the bill, but he was glad it got rid of the individual mandate.

    (CROSSTALK)

    AMY WALTER: That’s the big problem right now.

    There is nobody selling this bill.

    TAMARA KEITH: Right.

    AMY WALTER: We’re talking a lot about process. We’re talking a lot about members who are supporting or not supporting it.

    There is nobody out there really championing this bill. Even the president himself is just sending out tweets saying, I sure hope you guys vote for it. We have been saying we’re going to vote for it.

    He’s not going out. He’s not holding rallies. I looked at the amount of money that’s been spent since the end of May on ads that talk about this health care bill; $6 million have been spent so far in advertising; 5.8 million of those dollars have been spent on negative attacks on the health care or urging senators to vote against it.

    So, without a champion, it’s not surprising to me at all that the health care bill that Republicans are putting forward isn’t particularly popular.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s probably similar to the ratio of what was spent against Obamacare when that was being debated.

    But, Tam, this is — with the vote now delayed, the opponents are worried. I mean, the folks who don’t want this are saying it gives them time to build up opposition, more opposition.

    TAMARA KEITH: Absolutely.

    Mitch McConnell didn’t want to take a lot of time to let this bill stew. He wanted to hurry and get a vote on it. And there’s a reason for that, because the longer it just hangs out there, the longer people have to look at the Congressional Budget Office score, which is not out just yet, but the longer governors have to put pressure on their senators, the longer voters have to call into their Senate offices every single day, the harder it gets to make this happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s always easier to fight something than it is to support it.

    But, having said this, Amy, your point about so much of this has been done behind closed doors.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    Well, and without — again, without a real champion supporting it. But you’re right. This has not been done with committees. There hasn’t been a whole lot of public discussion or even within Congress a whole lot of public debate about this.

    Tam is right. McConnell wanted to get this done, move on to something like taxes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I promise we won’t talk about polls again for a whole year. Fingers crossed.

    (LAUGHTER)

    AMY WALTER: I don’t believe you.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tam and Amy, thank you.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post Trump’s historically low approval ratings could spell trouble for Republicans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    FILE PHOTO: Anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, waits outside Superior Court in San Francisco, California, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Lisa Fernandez/File Photo - RTS184OV

    FILE PHOTO: Pro-life activist David Daleiden, waits outside Superior Court in San Francisco, California. Photo by REUTERS/Lisa Fernandez/File Photo.

    SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge found a pro-life activist known for clandestine videos of abortion-rights advocates in contempt on Monday after additional secretly-taken recordings appeared online.

    U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said David Daleiden, a leader of the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress, had violated the judge’s injunction against releasing additional videos.

    Orrick ruled Daleiden’s lawyers, former Los Angeles prosecutor Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, had also violated his injunction. Ferreira said Monday they would appeal the judge’s contempt ruling.

    In 2015, Daleiden’s center released secretly recorded videos that it says show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal. Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited.

    READ MORE: Undercover activists who targeted Planned Parenthood indicted in Texas

    The videos stoked the U.S. abortion debate when they were released.

    The center is also behind secret recordings at meetings of an abortion providers’ group, the National Abortion Federation, in 2014 and 2015. Orrick blocked the release of those videos, but publicly accessible links that led to at least some of the blocked videos appeared on Cooley and Ferreira’s website in May.

    Cooley and Ferreira represent Daleiden in a related criminal case in California accusing him of recording people without their permission in violation of state law. Ferreira on Monday called the federal judge’s contempt order “an unprecedented infringement on a state criminal case.”

    Orrick said in Monday’s order he would hold Daleiden and the two lawyers responsible for extra security and attorney costs run up by the National Abortion Federation in response to release of the additional videos. The final financial penalty in the ruling has yet to be tallied.

    Matthew Geragos, an attorney for Cooley and Ferreira, has said the attorneys were entitled to put out evidence that could draw out witnesses and other information that could clear Daleiden in the criminal case.

    The post Judge finds pro-life activist in contempt of court over Planned Parenthood videos appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the White House, it is Made in America Week, an effort to highlight President Trump’s goal of boosting U.S. manufacturing and job creation.

    However, it has again sparked questions over Mr. Trump and his family’s businesses, particularly where their products are manufactured.

    John Yang has the story.

    JOHN YANG: Today, the White House South Lawn was turned into a showcase for products made in each of the 50 states.

    But not on display, merchandise sold by the Trump Organization or Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. Most of those things are made overseas.

    Here to talk about how Ivanka Trump’s clothing is made is Matea Gold of The Washington Post. She’s part of a team of reporters that investigated the Ivanka Trump brand’s manufacturing practices.

    Matea, thanks for joining us.

    In your story, you said that the Ivanka Trump fashion line had retail sales of about $100 million last year. What does she make, and where does she make them?

    MATEA GOLD, The Washington Post: The Ivanka Trump brand, which the first daughter still owns, but doesn’t control on a day-to-day management, makes clothes, handbags, shoes in an array of overseas factories, we found, exclusively in foreign factories.

    We traced her current line of products to five specific countries, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. There’s also customs records that show that, back in 2013, some of her shoes were made in Ethiopia.

    And the brand told us that, while they would like to bring manufacturing back to the United States, they don’t feel like it’s really possible to do in a large-scale fashion.

    JOHN YANG: And how does this compare? We should also note that the Trump brand, the Trump Organization brand products made in about 12 different countries, including Bangladesh and China. How does this compare with the rest of the industry?

    MATEA GOLD: Well, the reality is that the American apparel industry is very firmly grounded in globalization and overseas production.

    About 97 percent of the clothes and shoes sold here in the United States are made abroad. And industry experts say that it is going to be incredibly difficult to reverse that trend.

    So, the focus in the industry right now is not on bringing manufacturing back in a large-scale fashion, but rather trying to give consumers a sense of confidence that their goods are not being made by workers overseas who are being exploited for their labor.

    JOHN YANG: And how does the Ivanka Trump fashion line measure up to the rest of the industry and that sort of thing in policing labor conditions at the factories they use?

    MATEA GOLD: We found that the Ivanka Trump brand lags behind many in the apparel industry, both large and small companies, when it comes to having oversight of their foreign production.

    Up to now, they have really relied on their suppliers to certify that they are complying with their code of conduct, a code of conduct, I should note, that they would not publicly disclose.

    They are taking measures now to do greater oversight, the kind of measures that other companies already have, such as bringing in a group to independently audit factories and to provide some programs on the ground to support some of the women who make their clothes.

    JOHN YANG: And what did the Trump people say to you? Today, Sean Spicer was asked today about some of this in the White House briefing, and said it would be inappropriate for him to talk about a private business at the White House podium. What did they tell you in response to these things?

    MATEA GOLD: Well, the president of the Ivanka Trump brand, Abigail Klem, told us that one of the reasons they had not taken these other measures that other companies have is because they’re a newer and smaller brand and that they’re looking now to really try to live their mission of women who work, which is the motto Ivanka Trump developed at her company throughout their whole supply chain.

    And that is something that they said is evolving and they’re going to continue to strive to do. But Klem also told us that the goal of bringing manufacturing back to the United States for their company was just unrealistic, that there aren’t trained workers that work in the apparel industry here anymore, and, in many cases, the machinery doesn’t even exist to do this kind of production.

    JOHN YANG: Matea, let me ask you about something else you have been reporting on for The Post.

    The financial — the campaign spending records of the Trump 2020 campaign shows that they paid money to — they paid fees to Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer before this latest story broke about the meeting with the Russian lawyer, and also they reimbursed the Trump corporation for legal consulting fees.

    What’s all this about?

    MATEA GOLD: So, we don’t have a lot of answers from the campaign committee, which has declined to answer questions about these payments.

    But one thing we saw in the most recent campaign finance filing is that the legal fees paid by the campaign committee skyrocketed in the last quarter, including a $50,000 retainer paid to a criminal defense attorney who is now representing Donald Trump Jr.

    This came in late June, before President Trump himself said he knew about this meeting in which there were several Russian or Russian-linked people involved. And it does raise questions about whether this payment specifically was connected to the Russian probe.

    And there was also this reimbursement to the Trump corporation for legal fees, which is the first time we have seen Trump’s own company being reimbursed for those kinds of service.

    JOHN YANG: What does the Federal Election Commission say about campaign funds being used for legal fees?

    MATEA GOLD: The campaign committees have a lot of leeway to spend money on legal fees, as long as the payments are directly connected to activity connected to the campaign.

    So if the expenses wouldn’t have been incurred all but for the campaign committee, they can pay them. But if they were expenses that aren’t related to political activity, they’re beyond the purview of the committee.

    The fact that these payments were made through the reelection committee suggests that they are connected to some sort of legal investigation or legal work connected to the campaign.

    JOHN YANG: Matea Gold on legal fees being paid for by the campaign and Ivanka Trump’s businesses, thank you very much.

    MATEA GOLD: Thank you.

    The post Ivanka Trump products are not made in America appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One week ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory over ISIS in Mosul. But reality on the ground is different, as the fight continues in parts of the Old City against ISIS holdouts.

    As special correspondent Marcia Biggs and videographer Alessandro Pavone report, the human toll of the fighting is becoming apparent. And it is horrific.

    A warning: Many viewers may find images and accounts in this story disturbing.

    MARCIA BIGGS: This is what so-called liberated Mosul looks and sounds like, in a small pocket of the Old City, the war against ISIS seemingly ongoing. And this is the Old City from ground level, a scene of utter devastation, entire neighborhoods flattened by coalition airstrikes, leaving the few survivors to search for the remains of their loved ones.

    Bashar and Ali’s families were together in this house hit by an airstrike 28 days ago. Ali names the dead one by one.

    ALI, Mosul Resident (through interpreter): My mother, three brothers, three sisters, my father, two sisters-in-law, two nieces.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And you’re the only one left from your family.

    ALI (through interpreter): Yes.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Shu Bedak Tamel, what are you going to do now?

    MAN (through interpreter): What can I do? I just want to take the bodies out and bury them.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Mosul is the capital of Nineveh Province and it is the men of Nineveh’s civil defense unit that are responsible for pulling the dead out of the rubble.

    They arrive with their crude tools, an ancient jackhammer, a broken sledgehammer, and when all else fails, they use their hands. One of the family members is adamant that the family is under this spot in a washroom. “Just open the hole,” this family member says.

    But trying to drill through over a foot of concrete proves impossible and one of the relatives finds another way into the house. So we enter the ruins in the dark.

    So this was the washroom they were talking about. He’s saying there’s a baby inside.

    In total, they are looking for 18 bodies. There were two families in the adjoining houses that night. Bashar lost six members of his family, including his wife and four children.

    BASHAR, Mosul Resident (through interpreter): We tried to escape the day before, but ISIS shot at us. We ran back to the house and the army told us, stay inside. We will evacuate you when we make the area safe.

    But the next morning, the airstrike hit our house. There were two bombs.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Were you in the house when the explosion happened?

    BASHAR (through interpreter): Yes, but I was near the front door of this house. I was the only one who didn’t get injured, along with my neighbor’s family. And my youngest daughter was rescued by the army. She’s still alive.

    MARCIA BIGGS: The remnants of life that night are frozen in time. Food sits uneaten on the kitchen counter, but the clock still runs. Hours pass, then finally a breakthrough.

    It’s a skull. So they’re telling me they have no idea who that little girl was. There were six or seven little girls in that room, and the body is so decomposed, all there is, is a skull.

    The search for remains lasts all day, with relatives waiting nervously. “God protect them,” this one says.

    They found four bodies out of 18, 14 left to go. The smell of death is unbearable.

    For the members of Mosul’s civil defense, it’s an ordinary day. The day before, they pulled 19 bodies from the rubble.

    Rabih Mishaal Mohamed is a sergeant with the unit, all of whom are working without pay.

    RABIH MISHAAL MOHAMED, Nineveh Civil Defense (through interpreter): The hardest part is when you see a child under the rubble because he is innocent, he is a child. He has nothing to do with the army or ISIS or anyone.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Why do you do this?

    RABIH MISHAAL MOHAMED (through interpreter): It is very difficult for us, but they are like family, our brothers our fathers, mothers, friends. If we don’t take their bodies out, who will come and do that? So we withstand it. We have to withstand it.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Withstand it, they must. It’s a scene that will play out again and again in the days to come, a tiny sliver of comfort to the families, who are clinging to what little they can find.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Marcia Biggs in the Old City, West Mosul, Iraq.

    The post Mosul left in rubble, crews search for bodies of family members appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    President Donald Trump signs a proclamation as he attends a "Made in America" products showcase event at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX3BU96

    President Donald Trump signs a proclamation as he attends a “Made in America” products showcase event at the White House in Washington, D.C. Trump vowed Monday to boost U.S. manufacturing by cutting the $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico. Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump vowed Monday to boost U.S. manufacturing by cutting the $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico as he showcased products made in all 50 states — everything from a fire truck to a baseball bat.

    “No longer are we going to allow other countries to break the rules, to steal our jobs and drain our wealth,” Trump said at a White House event that spilled from the East Room to the South Lawn.

    Shortly after Trump’s remarks, the U.S. trade representative released an 18-page report about its goals for updating the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In addition to reducing the trade deficit, the administration wants to insert a chapter on the digital economy into the deal. It also wants to strengthen labor and environmental obligations, as well as amending the rules of origin so that more of the products traded come from the United States and North America.

    Facing an investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia and a tax and health care agenda struggling to make headway as quickly as promised, Trump is turning his focus to trade this week. Administration officials are to meet Wednesday with economic officials from China, a nation the president has accused of dumping steel on the global market to hurt U.S. steelmakers. The White House emphasis on trade follows a string of other recent theme weeks on energy, job-training and infrastructure that mostly failed to draw much attention away from the Russia inquiry.

    The president took his time checking out products from all over the country: Trump donned a cowboy hat from Texas. He swung a baseball bat from Louisiana. And he even climbed into the cab of a Wisconsin-built fire truck and pretended to be a firefighter, saying, “Where’s the fire? Where’s the fire? Put it out fast!”

    The new NAFTA objectives, a requirement to begin talks on updating the agreement in the next 30 days, contain the first specifics for a Trump administration that has made bold promises on trade. Trump has pledged to recover factory jobs and boost wages by crafting new trade deals. Supporters note that NAFTA enabled companies to charge cheaper prices for products that range from cars to vacuum cleaners, helping many U.S. consumers.

    The president said he only seeks a level playing field for U.S. companies and workers, but “if the playing field was slanted a little bit toward us, I would accept that, also.”

    READ MORE: Trump just kept his promise to exit the Paris accord. Here’s how he’s handled other international pledges.

    But the president has a conflicted relationship with global trade. His namesake clothing business depended on the work of low-wage workers living overseas, as does the fashion line of his daughter and White House aide, Ivanka Trump.

    As of now, Ivanka Trump’s firm continues to have its products made overseas. Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement Monday that the president’s daughter “has resigned from the company, does not control its operations, and has been advised that she cannot ask the government to act in an issue involving the brand in any way, constraining her ability to intervene personally.”

    Trump has blasted trade deficits as hampering the economy by sending money abroad. But the trade deficit has actually improved from $762 billion in 2006 to $505 billion last year, a change brought about largely because U.S. consumers cut back spending during the Great Recession. His administration already is pursuing multiple trade cases on individual products and is weighing whether to impose tariffs and quotas on foreign steel in hopes of curbing production in China, even though that country represents a fraction of U.S. steel imports.

    Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the administration’s NAFTA objectives “will be further developed as the negotiations proceed.” The senator said he wants stronger protections for intellectual property rights as part of an amended agreement with Canada and Mexico.

    READ MORE: Trump’s campaign rhetoric on trade deals softens as president

    Democratic lawmakers said Monday that Trump should move away from trade agreements that favor multinational companies to focus on workers.

    Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-MI, said that any new agreements must provide for more jobs and higher wages that he has pledged to generate.

    “He’s got to deliver on those promises he made to my constituents and the working men and women across the country,” Dingell said in a phone call with reporters.

    When NAFTA went into effect in 1994, the United States ran a small trade surplus in goods with Mexico and a slight deficit with Canada. But the size of the deficits steadily began to increase afterward.

    By last year, the United States ran a $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico and a nearly $11 billion gap with Canada. Neither trade deficit is near its peak level. The trade deficit with Canada hit a high in 2008, while the trade gap with Mexico nearly reached $75 billion in 2007.

    The post Trump wants new NAFTA deal to cut trade deficit with Mexico appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has moved to delay a vote on a Republican health care plan, there’s no letup in the battle behind the scenes.

    Lawmakers, governors, interest groups are all working furiously. A handful of key questions may decide the bill’s fate. Among them, how many fewer people would be covered? And will cheaper insurance make it more appealing or would it be too skimpy for too many?

    Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is one of the original architects behind Obamacare. He’s the author of the new book “Prescription for the Future.” And Avik Roy is co-founder and president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. It’s a think tank based in Austin, Texas. He’s been a health adviser to Republican presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney.

    And we welcome both of you to the program.

    Avik Roy, let me start with you.

    We don’t have an analysis of this Senate bill, this new Senate bill by the Congressional Budget Office, but there was an analysis done by the health care firm Avalere. It is forecasting that this bill would lead to federal Medicaid funding reductions ranging from 29 to 37 percent in all 50 states.

    Doesn’t that make it understandable why even Republicans are still struggling to support this bill?

    AVIK ROY, The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity: Well, Judy, there’s a bit of misunderstanding as to exactly what the source of those changes to Medicaid are.

    There are really two major components. There is the first, which is the repeal of Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid program, which is replaced by a robust system of tax credits for those individuals, those enrollees to buy private coverage.

    So that’s about 85 to 95 percent of the money that you’re describing. Then there’s a small component, which is per capita reforms, a Bill Clinton proposal from 1994, to make the long-term Medicaid program more fiscally sustainable.

    And that’s the piece that really matters to those governors, particularly in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, because that’s going to be a pretty gradual, but important reform to make the Medicaid program fiscally sustainable.

    So the first piece, the big piece, replaced by tax credits to afford coverage for those individuals, and the second piece for the legacy program a very gradual and sensible and bipartisan approach to Medicaid reform.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just so that I understand, you’re saying that these cuts are not as draconian as they sound?

    AVIK ROY: Exactly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

    Dr. Zeke Emanuel?

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, University of Pennsylvania: I don’t know, when you cut $170 billion out of a program over 10 years, and when the CBO says 15 million people are going to lose Medicaid program.

    And let’s remember those who 15 million people are. They’re the working poor. They’re able-bodied people who are generally working — two-thirds to three-quarters of them work at jobs. It’s just their employers don’t provide insurance.

    Avik says, well, we’re going to give them a subsidy. Remember, the subsidies are less than the subsidies that the Obamacare proposal gives, and they go to a much, much smaller level. The insurance they cover is much less. It is not comparable.

    You can’t cut $770 billion and say, oh, it’s not going to affect anything; 22 million people are going to lose coverage because of this bill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Avik Roy, how do you answer that?

    AVIK ROY: Yes, so the CBO estimate, this 22 million number that Zeke is talking about is largely driven by erroneous aspects of the Congressional Budget Office’s methodology.

    The CBO believes that 15 million people will drop out of the insurance market in 2018 because they will no longer face a fine for not purchasing coverage, the individual mandate that we all hear so much about.

    And, ultimately, about 18 million of that 22 million is driven by the lack of a fine forcing people to have coverage, so it’s not driven by a lack of funding. There’s robust funding.

    (CROSSTALK)

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: If you don’t like the message, attack the messenger.

    (CROSSTALK)

    AVIK ROY: No, but this is a fundamental problem with the CBO’s methodology.

    And it’s the reason why Obamacare has an individual mandate in the first place. Senator Obama in 2008, he opposed having an individual mandate in his bill.

    And it was only included because the CBO told him that 16 million — the coverage, the statistic of coverage would be affected by that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, I don’t want to spend the whole time on the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, but just a quick response to that.

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: Well, again, I think he’s attacking the messenger because he doesn’t like the message.

    And the fact is that the CBO is the independent arbiter. Their methods aren’t universal. They don’t get it necessarily exactly right. But you’re not going to go from 22 million uninsured down to a more tolerable number.

    It seems unconscionable that senators could vote to throw 22 million people off of insurance. And now we have the irony that John McCain is delaying the vote, a guy who needed surgery that cost $30,000. He certainly couldn’t afford it just out of nowhere. Insurance has to pay. And we’re going to get 22 million people with less insurance.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another aspect of this, Avik Roy, is this — in an effort to make insurance more affordable, what we now see is a Senate bill offering alternatives that lower premiums, but they do this by cutting back on the amount of coverage, on what is covered.

    You’re creating — the criticism here is that you’re creating two markets, one for people who can afford to continue to get good medical care and those who would be left out because they can’t. How do you defend this part of the legislation?

    AVIK ROY: Well, Judy, I would use — I would challenge the accuracy of the description that you just gave of the measure. I think we’re talking about the Ted Cruz amendment to the Senate health care bill.

    And what that amendment is trying to do is say, OK, sick people are going to have much more expensive coverage because they consume more health care. So, let’s have direct taxpayer subsidies in this regulated market to ensure that they can find affordable coverage.

    But the fact, Judy, is that tens of millions of Americans who can’t afford coverage can’t afford that coverage not because they’re sick, but because they’re healthy and insurance costs too much.

    And Obamacare over the last four years has doubled or tripled their premiums. HHS, Health and Human Services, researchers have estimated that premiums have increased for that population by at least 100 percent over the last four years.

    So, what Ted Cruz is trying to do is say let’s make sure there’s coverage that is affordable for healthy people, as well as for sick people. And you do that by having a market that really is focused on covering people who are already sick, which requires a different kind of insurance, and people who are healthy and who need lower premiums as a result.

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: Let’s make three quick points.

    First of all, the subsidies that the Republicans are going to give are going to be much less and smaller, driving up what people have to pay, and especially their deductible. They don’t do anything about affordability in this bill at all. They don’t change the long-term trajectory of health care costs one bit.

    Second of all, the fact is that every medical organization has come out against this bill and says it’s going to be bad for patients. And the health insurance industry says that what Avik Roy just said is basically false.

    You will segment the market. You’re going to take healthy people, you’re going to separate them. You’re going to put the sick people in a market, and then you’re going to reduce the subsidies you give them to buy insurance, because the insurance is pegged at a much skimpier package.

    That is not a recipe for having people have good insurance and decreasing deductibles. It’s actually going to do the exact reverse of what the president pledged.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you want to respond?

    AVIK ROY: Absolutely.

    So, I would challenge a number of things that Zeke said there, as you would expect. The first is that the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who is an Obama appointee, published a report a couple of weeks ago where he said, in fact, that this bill would bend down the cost curve and reduce overall national health expenditures by making the health care system more responsive and more efficient.

    And, actually, the tax credits in the Senate health care bill would expand to ensure that those individuals who are sick, who need robust coverage would be able to afford the premiums they have.

    So, this bill will actually provide hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars over the long term to ensure that those people can afford coverage.

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: It’s funny. You’re talking about giving more money, when, in fact, the bill is cutting back the money it’s putting into the health care system. You can’t have it both ways.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One final to you, Dr. Zeke Emanuel.

    Many parts of the countries, we know there are going to be many counties where, under the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, there’s only one insurer left. Prices have gone up. A lot of people have been priced out of the market.

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: Absolutely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And this is completely aside from what the Republicans are trying to do.

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: Well, it’s not — no, I would disagree with there, Judy, because the uncertainty they have created in the market, the Republicans — Marco Rubio removed the risk corridors and the re-insurance proposal.

    They have also created uncertainty about whether they are going to pay the cost-sharing subsidies. Those are subsidies to families making less than $70,000 to pay their deductibles. That actually drives premiums up.

    There are simple solutions. You put the risk corridors in. You give — you guarantee you are going to pay the cost-sharing subsidies. And you give insurance companies a tax break. You refund them the tax from the Affordable Care Act if they go into counties that have one or fewer insurances.

    That will actually stabilize the insurance markets. And states that run their insurance exchanges, like California and Idaho, they actually are running pretty well. It’s the federal side that’s not running so well. And the federal side is run by Mr. Trump’s associates.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to have to leave it there, big subject, much to talk about. We are going to continue to come back to it.

    Zeke Emanuel, Avik Roy, we thank you both.

    DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: Thank you for having us.

    AVIK ROY: Thanks, Judy.

    The post The sticking points keeping the GOP health care bill in limbo appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks at a summit on crime reduction and public safety in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTS17VJ0

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks at a June summit on crime reduction and public safety in Bethesda, Maryland. Sessions said a shift will be announced this week that will increase the use of asset forfeiture, especially for drug suspects. Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas.

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Justice Department will soon make it easier for local law enforcement to seize cash and property from crime suspects and reap the proceeds, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday.

    Sessions said a shift will be announced this week that will increase the use of asset forfeiture, especially for drug suspects. The practice has been criticized because it allows law enforcement to take possessions — such as cars and money — without indictments or evidence a crime has been committed.

    “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime,” Sessions told local prosecutors in Minnesota.

    A change in the policy would likely represent another reversal by Sessions of Obama-era Justice Department procedures. His Democratic predecessor Eric Holder had tightened control of the department’s asset forfeiture operations amid concerns that property could be seized without judicial oversight.

    READ MORE: Federal overhauls of troubled police departments can be popular, but carry mixed results

    Holder limited the ability of local law enforcement agencies to turn over seized assets to the federal government and then share in the proceeds. Civil liberties groups praised the move as a step toward reform because that practice made it easier for local authorities to circumvent state laws that were sometimes stricter than the federal ones governing seizures.

    Sessions on Monday said such practice — called adoptive forfeiture — is “appropriate, as is sharing with our partners.”

    The line drew a round of applause from the hundreds of county attorneys and law enforcement officials inside a Minneapolis convention center.

    Local law enforcement agencies use such proceeds to pay for expenses, and some had complained that Holder’s policy left them without a source of critical funding. But that policy was also designed to save federal resources for larger, complex investigations where the ability to seize assets is critical, such as cases involving national money laundering or Russian organized crime, said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor and expert on asset forfeiture and money laundering law.

    “It’s a great way to build teamwork by adopting the cases and sharing the money,” Cassella said. “But at the same time, not everything can be a priority.”

    The post Justice Department to make it easier for police to seize property from crime suspects appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Officials at Princeton University insisted that a Chinese-American graduate student jailed in Iran is innocent. Iranian courts announced on Sunday that Xiyue Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying. He was arrested last August. Princeton says that Wang was conducting research for his doctorate.

    Separately, Iran announced that President Hassan Rouhani’s brother has been arrested on allegations of financial misconduct.

    In Jordan, a soldier was sentenced today to life in prison at hard labor for killing three U.S. Army Green Berets. He said he fired on the military trainers last November because he thought his base was under attack. After the sentencing today, relatives of the Americans condemned the sentence, which could let the killer go free in 20 years.

    JAMES MORIARTY, Father of Slain Soldier: He gets out — the day he gets out, my daughters will serve another 30 years after that without the love of their brother, and that’s outrageous. I would kill him myself if I had the ability to do so, and I wish they had hung him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The families were shown security camera footage of the attack. They say that it shows the Jordanian soldier firing for six minutes, even after the Americans had identified themselves.

    The United Nations reports that the war in Afghanistan is killing more civilians than ever. A new report says more than 1,600 died in the first half of this year, and some 3,500 others were wounded. It also says that deaths and injuries from Taliban suicide bombings rose by 15 percent. The Taliban dismissed the report as propaganda material.

    The United Arab Emirates flatly denied today that it hacked into Qatar’s state news agency Web sites in May, and planted false stories. Four Arab countries severed ties with Qatar after its emir was falsely quoted as praising Hamas and Iran. The Washington Post reported the hack, but, in London today, the UAE’s foreign minister pushed back.

    ANWAR MOHAMMED QARQASH, UAE Foreign Minister: Our embassy in Washington has put these denials in place, and I think this is a crisis and There IS is a lot of rumors And a lot of false news and stories. And this is going to die out. It is not true.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The FBI is working with Qatar to investigate the incident.

    Authorities in Arizona searched again today for one person still missing after a flash flood killed nine people on Saturday. Cell phone video captured the deluge as it swept through Tonto National Forest, 100 miles northeast of Phoenix. The water at the swimming site rose as high as six feet, triggered by a heavy thunderstorm. All of the dead, including five children, were part of an extended family.

    The Trump administration says it will let an extra 15,000 foreign workers into the country this budget year on temporary seasonal visas. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly calls it a one-time extension. The announcement came today as the president promoted Made in America Week, showcasing domestically made goods.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost eight points to close at 21629. The Nasdaq rose about two points, and the S&P 500 gave up a fraction.

    And a video of a young model wearing a miniskirt is causing an uproar in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia. A video over the weekend showed her walking around a historic site north of Riyadh. State media reports that she could face legal action. The country’s dress code for women mandates long, loose-fitting robes.

    The post News Wrap: Princeton grad student sentenced to 10 years in Iran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia is stepping up pressure on the United States to regain two diplomatic compounds seized in New York and Maryland.

    President Obama ordered them seized in December in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Today, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called it highway robbery, and his deputy held a high-level meeting at the State Department.

    Nick Schifrin has been following the story, and he joins me now in the studio.

    So, Nick, why are the Russians so interested in these two compounds?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: What officials on both sides are talking about is bilateral irritants.

    So these are the compounds. These are the Russian diplomats who were expelled last year as part of the U.S. response to the Russian hacking, and these are not the major issues. These are not Syria and Ukraine. And the idea is that the fewer issues you talk about, the more likely it is you make at least a little progress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what are the prospects that they can reach any kind of agreement?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: That’s exactly what the Trump administration is trying to find, any kind of agreement.

    There are huge headwinds, as you know, politically in this country if you give back those compounds.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Huge.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: And so — huge, exactly.

    But U.S. officials are worried about retribution. Russia says, look, if there’s no deal today in the near future, three dozen of your diplomats will be expelled and life for your diplomats in Russia will get even worse.

    And we have already seen a campaign of intimidation against U.S. diplomats. In Russia in June 2016, we saw a U.S. diplomat outside of the embassy get beaten up. That’s not something the U.S. wants to see there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, quickly, where do you see this going?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: It’s a chicken and egg problem.

    The U.S. says, you hacked, we responded. If Russia were to say, no, no, no, we didn’t hack, you kicked our guys out, you seized our compounds for no reason, then we retaliate, the U.S. has to say, oh, well, this is a new retaliation, and yet another response.

    There’s no telling where that would end. The U.S. is trying to say, look, the big issues, keep that aside. Maybe we can make some progress and at least, I don’t know, save a bad relationship from getting worse.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another aspect of the U.S.-Russia relationship.

    Nick Schifrin, thank you.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Thanks.

    The post Russia presses U.S. for return of seized compounds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Marc Kasowitz

    Defense attorney Marc Kasowitz, shown here speaking in 2005, is among the team of lawyers defending President Donald Trump in the ongoing Russia investigations. Photo by REUTERS/Keith Bedford.

    WASHINGTON — As the government’s Russia investigations heat up, a growing cast of lawyers is signing up to defend President Donald Trump and his associates. But the interests of those lawyers — and their clients — don’t always align, adding a new layer of drama and suspicion in a White House already rife with internal rivalries.

    Trump himself has both an outside legal team and a new in-house special counsel, Ty Cobb, for Russia-related matters. White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, has a pair of high-powered attorneys working for him. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., recently hired his own lawyer. And former campaign aides who expect to be caught up in the expanding probes are also shopping for representation — and dealing with sticker-shock over the price tags.

    The result is a crowded group of high-priced attorneys bent on defending their own clients, even if it means elbowing those clients’ colleagues.

    “Any one of those individuals can anticipate that they will be in a position to provide information adverse to any of the other individuals,” said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor and legal ethics expert. “They have to have their own lawyer.”

    MORE: What we know—and what we don’t—about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer

    The diverging interests began to emerge more clearly during last week’s fallout over a June 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney that both the president’s son and his son-in-law attended during the heat of the presidential campaign. Legal teams for the president, Trump Jr. and Kushner all discussed the matter before the meeting was first reported by The New York Times. But the lawyers couldn’t agree on a single, public explanation for the meeting and ultimately settled on a statement that had to be repeatedly amended as new information dripped out. The job of coordination was especially challenging because the lawyers couldn’t always speak freely about what they knew, out of concern for attorney-client privilege, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

    With each new disclosure that followed, the lawyers tweaked their public statements — and anxiously speculated over who in the group was disclosing the damaging information to the media.

    People with knowledge of the legal wrangling insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    In Trump’s inner circle, a group long split into factions, the potential for fueling other officials’ legal difficulties could be high.

    READ MORE: Senate Democrats ask to review Kushner’s security clearance

    It’s all going to get even more complicated as both Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and three separate congressional probes gather steam. Kushner is expected to talk to the Senate intelligence committee soon, and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wants to summon Trump Jr. for testimony.

    The president and his son have both tried to downplay last year’s meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.

    “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!,” the president tweeted Monday.

    But emails about the meeting that were released by Trump Jr. rattled some White House advisers, particularly his enthusiastic response to being told directly that the attorney had damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton that was being provided by the Russian government.

    Last week’s revelations helped prompt the president to bolster his own legal defense. He hired Cobb, an experienced white-collar attorney, who is slated to join the White House staff on July 31, according to Cobb’s law firm. Cobb is expected to play a public role, crafting official White House responses to developments.

    His hiring came with an acknowledgement that the current arrangement wasn’t working. Trump’s personal lawyers were supposed to take the pressure off the White House to respond to Russia inquiries. But it’s become untenable for the West Wing staff to keep punting questions about the president.

    “We end up spending a lot of time talking to the counsel’s office about what can and can’t be referred to outside counsel, what still remains in our purview,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday. Spicer said he did not believe Cobb had vetted the president’s tweet on Monday.


    Spicer addressed questions from reporters, including those about Trump’s legal counsel, during a Monday off-camera White House briefing.

    Trump will continue to work with the outside legal team already representing his personal interests: Jay Sekulow, a frequent television commentator, and New York-based attorney Marc Kasowitz, whose unconventional style has left some aides to the president unimpressed.

    Kasowitz and Sekulow don’t work out of the White House, though both are there on occasion for meetings with the president. Sekulow made multiple appearances at the White House last week as the controversy over the meeting with the Russian lawyer unfolded.

    The expanding legal teams come at a cost.

    MORE: Trump legal team distances president from son’s meeting with Russian lawyer

    The Trump presidential campaign has spent almost $1 million on legal fees since the beginning of the year, according to a campaign finance report filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission. That includes a $50,000 charge for the law firm of Alan Futerfas, who is representing Trump Jr. The payment was made nearly two weeks before news reports about the younger Trump’s Russia meeting.

    A large chunk of the campaign’s legal expenses are for Jones Day, White House Counsel Don McGahn’s former employer. The firm has continued to represent the campaign for standard services affiliated with any political committee. But Jones Day’s fees more than doubled in the most recent quarter, compared to the first three month of the year, the FEC reports show, a period that coincides with the deepening Russia quagmire.

    The Trump presidential campaign has spent almost $1 million on legal fees since the beginning of the year, according to a campaign finance report filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission.

    Several former campaign advisers who expect to have to testify before Congress are also hiring lawyers, but they’re picking up the cost themselves. The House intelligence committee had planned to interview longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone and campaign digital director Brad Parscale before the August recess, but both interviews have been delayed.

    Michael Caputo, another former campaign aide, met with House lawmakers last week and says he expects to testify again in front of senators and potentially Mueller’s team. Caputo is being represented by former New York State Attorney General Dennis Vacco, and said he’s liquidating his children’s college funds to pay the bills.

    Asked about the campaign money covering Don Jr. and other folks’ legal fees, he responded: “Lucky for them. And unlucky for me. And unlucky for my children who are now going to community college.”

    AP writers Eric Tucker, Jill Colvin and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

    The post Who are the lawyers defending Trump and his aides in the Russia investigations? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    WASHINGTON — Republican Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah say they will oppose the Republican health care bill, dealing a blow to GOP leaders’ hopes of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s legislation.

    The two senators issued separate statements late Monday saying they can’t support the legislation. They join two other Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, in opposition.

    WATCH: The sticking points keeping the GOP health care bill in limbo

    With just a 52-48 majority in the Senate, Lee and Moran’s resistance means Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot move ahead on the bill.

    Lee says he can’t support the bill because it doesn’t repeal all of the Obamacare taxes and doesn’t go far enough to lower premiums.

    Moran says, “We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy.”

    — ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The post Two GOP senators say they won’t support current version of health bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Healthcare activists get a police warning during a protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., in July. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Healthcare activists get a police warning during a protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., in July. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The implosion of the Senate Republican health care bill leaves a divided GOP with its flagship legislative priority in tatters. Now, a wounded President Donald Trump and congressional leaders face dicey decisions about addressing their perhaps unattainable seven-year-old promise of repealing President Barack Obama’s law.

    Two GOP senators — Utah’s Mike Lee and Jerry Moran of Kansas — sealed the measure’s doom late Monday when each announced he would vote “no” in an initial, critical vote that had been expected as soon as next week. Their startling, tandem announcement meant that at least four of the 52 GOP senators were ready to block the measure — two more than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had to spare in the face of a wall of Democratic opposition.

    “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a late evening statement that essentially waved a white flag.

    It was the second stinging setback on the issue in three weeks for McConnell, whose reputation as a legislative mastermind has been marred as he’s failed to unite his chamber’s Republicans behind a health overhaul package that’s highlighted jagged divides between conservatives and moderates. In late June, he abandoned an initial package after he lacked enough GOP support to pass.

    The episode has also been jarring for Trump, whose intermittent lobbying and nebulous, often contradictory descriptions of what he’s wanted have shown he has limited clout with senators. That despite a determination by Trump, McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to demonstrate that a GOP running the White House and Congress can govern effectively.

    Now, McConnell said, the Senate would vote on a measure the GOP-run Congress approved in 2015, only to be vetoed by Obama — a bill repealing much of Obama’s statute, with a two-year delay designed to give lawmakers time to enact a replacement. Trump embraced that idea last month after an initial version of McConnell’s bill collapsed due under Republican divisions, and did so again late Monday.

    “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” Trump tweeted.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    But the prospects for approving a clean repeal bill followed by work on replacement legislation, even with Trump ready to sign it, seemed shaky. Trump and party leaders had started this year embracing that strategy, only to abandon it when it seemed incapable of passing Congress, with many Republicans worried it would cause insurance market and political chaos because of uncertainty that they would approve substitute legislation.

    McConnell’s failed bill would have left 22 million uninsured by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a number that many Republicans found unpalatable. But the vetoed 2015 measure would be even worse, the budget office said last January, producing 32 million additional uninsured people by 2026 — figures that seemed likely to drive a stake into that bill’s prospects for passing Congress.

    That would seem to leave McConnell with an option he described last month — negotiating with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. That would likely be on a narrower package aimed more at keeping insurers in difficult marketplaces they’re either abandoning or imposing rapidly growing premiums.

    “The core of this bill is unworkable,” Schumer said in a statement. He said Republicans “should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our health care system.”

    The vote on the Senate Republican health care bill has been delayed, but the behind-the-scenes battle continues. What key questions could help decide the bill’s fate? Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania and Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity join Judy Woodruff to debate different aspects of the proposed legislation.

    Similar to legislation the House approved in May after its own setbacks, McConnell’s bill would repeal Obama’s tax penalties on people who don’t buy coverage and cut the Medicaid program for the poor, elderly and nursing home residents. It rolled back many of the statute’s requirements for the policies insurers can sell and eliminated many tax increases that raised money for Obama’s expansion to 20 million more people, though it retained the law’s tax boosts on high earners.

    Besides Lee and Moran, two other GOP senators had previously declared their opposition to McConnell’s bill: moderate Maine Sen. Susan Collins and conservative Rand Paul of Kentucky. And other moderates were wavering and could have been difficult for McConnell and Trump to win over because of the bill’s Medicaid cuts: Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Dean Heller of Nevada, probably the most endangered Senate Republican in next year’s elections.

    The range of objections lodged by the dissident senators underscored the warring viewpoints within his own party that McConnell had to try patching over. Lee complained that the GOP bill didn’t go far enough in rolling back Obama’s robust coverage requirements, while moderates like Collins berated its Medicaid cuts and the millions it would leave without insurance.

    McConnell’s revised version aimed to satisfy both camps, by incorporating language by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas allowing insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones, and by adding tens of billions of dollars to treat opioid addiction and to defray consumer costs. His efforts did not achieve the intended result.

    READ MORE: Two more GOP senators say they won’t support current version of health bill

    The post The health care bill collapses, leaving a divided GOP at crossroads appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after the weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in May. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after the weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in May. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying a new health care strategy after the “repeal and replace” measure failed. McConnell says he will push the Senate to pass a clean repeal bill.

    The Republican leader made the announcement in a statement that came a few hours after two Republican senators dealt a fatal blow to the replacement bill unveiled last Thursday, meaning McConnell lacked the votes to move ahead.

    The Kentucky Republican says, “regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.”

    The vote on the Senate Republican health care bill has been delayed, but the behind-the-scenes battle continues. What key questions could help decide the bill’s fate? Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania and Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity join Judy Woodruff to debate different aspects of the proposed legislation.

    McConnell says that in the coming days, the Senate will consider the House-passed bill, with the first order of business a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay.

    He is not saying when the vote will occur.

    READ MORE: The health care bill collapses, leaving a divided GOP at crossroads

    The post McConnell says he’ll push for a clean repeal bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is blasting Democrats and “a few Republicans” over the failure of the Republican effort to write a new health care law. “We will return,” Trump declared in an early morning tweet.

    The president tweeted Tuesday that “Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard,” but says, “We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans.”

    He added, “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”

    Two GOP senators — Utah’s Mike Lee and Jerry Moran of Kansas — sealed the Republican health care bill’s doom late Monday when each announced he would vote “no.”

    A round of new polls show historically low support for President Trump has slipped further since the spring. Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR join Judy Woodruff to discuss the president’s numbers, and how Americans see the Senate Republicans’ fight over the health care bill.

    At least four of the 52 GOP senators were ready to block the measure — two more than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had to spare.

    READ MORE: The health care bill collapses, leaving a divided GOP at crossroads

    The post President Trump blasts Democrats, ‘a few Republicans’ over health bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Smoke is released into the sky at a refinery in Wilmington, California, in 2012. Photo by Bret Hartman/Reuters

    Smoke is released into the sky at a refinery in Wilmington, California, in 2012. Photo by Bret Hartman/Reuters

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s signature initiative to fight global warming will get another decade of life after lawmakers from both parties joined Gov. Jerry Brown in extending the law credited with reducing the state’s carbon footprint.

    Monday night’s votes to renew California’s cap-and-trade program bolster the Democratic governor’s quest to portray the state as a leader in the fight against climate change. At a bipartisan celebratory press conference following the vote, members from both parties noted the contrast with Washington, where Republicans have struggled to pass legislation and have taken a skeptical view of regulations to combat greenhouse gases.

    “We didn’t come here to Sacramento to just be Republicans and to hate on Democrats,” Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes said. “We came here to Sacramento to make people’s lives better.”

    The three-bill package now heads to Brown’s desk.

    Brown has sought to offer the state’s cap-and-trade program as a model that can be reproduced in other states and even nations to reduce carbon emissions and combat rising temperatures.

    “We’re only 1 percent of the problem, but we’re a lot more a part of the solution,” Brown said. “It’s not just what we do — it’s what other people can follow.”

    Brown portrays the initiative, which would have ended in 2020 without legislative action, as essential for the survival of civilization. Extending it has been one of his highest priorities as he nears the end of his fourth term.

    The legislation was fiercely opposed by some environmentalists who say it’s too timid for progressive California, especially those who work to clean up the notoriously smoggy air in parts of Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the agricultural Central Valley. Conservatives also fought the measure, saying it will raise costs in an already expensive state.

    But Brown and Democratic leaders were able to cobble together the two-thirds support needed in both chambers to extend the law through 2030. One Republican in the Senate and seven in the Assembly joined a majority of Democrats in supporting the bill.

    Cap and trade puts a limit on carbon emissions and requires polluters to obtain permits to release greenhouse gases. Some permits, known as allowances, are given away while others are auctioned, generating billions of dollars in revenue for the state.

    The cap-and-trade extension bill faced stiff opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike in the weeks leading up to the vote.

    Brown and legislative leaders also successfully negotiated two companion bills that helped secure the two-thirds majority necessary to extend cap and trade. One aims to improve local air quality and helped bring some Democrats on board with the cap-and-trade deal. Mayes, meanwhile, brought some Assembly Republicans along by advocating another bill that may give the party more of a say in how to spend money collected through cap and trade in the future.

    Still, the cap-and-trade extension bill faced stiff opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike in the weeks leading up to the vote, prompting last minute pleas from Democrats and a near apocalyptic address from Brown about a California devastated by climate change.

    “I didn’t know where it was going a few days ago,” Brown said, acknowledging the difficulty in winning support.

    Republican critics likened the bill to a tax that will hit Californians at the gas pump and the grocery store. The nonpartisan legislative analyst said last year that the existing cap-and-trade program accounted for an 11-cent-per-gallon increase in gasoline prices. The office has not analyzed the extension proposal.

    “We could shut down the entire state of California and it would have absolutely no effect on the global climate,” said Sen. Andy Vidak, a Republican from Hanford in the agricultural Central Valley who voted against the extension. “But what is measureable is the effect this tax will have on the poorest of the poor in my district and across California.”

    Local environmental justice advocates, meanwhile, said cap and trade allows polluters to keep fouling the air around major sources of pollution such as oil refineries and objected to concessions Brown made to the oil industry and other polluters in a bid to win support from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

    State law requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 — among the most aggressive mandates for carbon reduction in the world. Without cap and trade, state regulators would be forced to enact restrictive mandates on polluters that would be burdensome for businesses and significantly more expensive for consumers, Brown said.

    Associated Press writer Sophia Bollag contributed to this report.

    The post California lawmakers celebrate bipartisan cap-and-trade victory appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

    An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration told Congress for a second time Monday that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal and can keep enjoying sanctions relief, even as it insisted Tehran would face consequences for breaching “the spirit” of the deal.

    President Donald Trump, who lambasted the 2015 pact as a candidate, gave himself more time to decide whether to scuttle it or let it stand. Instead, senior Trump administration officials sought to emphasize their deep concerns about Iran’s non-nuclear behavior and vowed that those transgressions won’t go unpunished.

    During the campaign, Trump told the American Israel Political Action Committee: “My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” And he returned to that theme often during the presidential race, describing the deal as “catastrophic,” among other things.

    In a shift from Trump’s previous threat to “rip up” the deal, officials said the administration was working with U.S. allies to try to fix the deal’s flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more. The officials also said the U.S. would slap Tehran with new sanctions penalizing it for developing ballistic missiles and other activity.

    Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and “the entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit” of the agreement, one official said. That assessment carries no legal force, while Trump’s certification that Iran is technically complying clears the way for sanctions to remain lifted.

    The late-night announcement capped a day of frenzied, last-minute decision-making by the president, exposing deep and lingering divisions within his administration about how to deal with a top national security issue.

    Since early last week, Trump’s administration had been prepared to make the certification, a quarterly requirement. Trump first told Congress in April that Iran was indeed complying. With no final decision on his broader Iran policy, the White House had planned to let the status quo stand for another three months.

    As planned, a public rollout began Monday morning involving close choreography among the White House, the State Department and other parts of government. The White House National Security Council distributed talking points to other agencies while national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin briefed outside policy experts who frequently comment on such issues in the media.

    Then, just as the White House was preparing to brief reporters, the announcement was abruptly halted and the talking points temporarily recalled as the president reconsidered the decision, according to officials and others briefed by the administration. Among the options Trump discussed with Tillerson and other aides was to extend the sanctions relief but refuse to certify Iran’s compliance, several officials said.

    With a midnight deadline just hours away, officials disclosed the final decision to reporters on a chaotic conference call on the condition that it not be published until the White House had a chance to formally notify Congress.

    Ultimately, the president’s decision was the same on the substance to what his administration had been planning all along. Although the language was toughened to add the declaration that Iran is “in default of the spirit” of the deal, Iran will continue receiving the same sanctions relief that it did under former President Barack Obama.

    In April, when Trump made his first certification, he paired it with new sanctions for non-nuclear behavior to show there was no softening of his stance toward the Islamic Republic. Earlier Monday, the White House had told outside experts it would repeat that playbook, by punishing more than a dozen Iranian individuals, organizations and procurement networks involved in ballistic missiles and other nefarious behavior.

    But the day came and went with no such announcement, although officials said they expected more sanctions would eventually be coming. It was unclear why the administration held off or for how long, but typically the Treasury Department prefers to issue new sanctions during business hours.

    “We receive contradictory signals,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations before the decision was announced. “So we don’t know which one to interpret in what way.”

    For Trump, a vocal critic of the deal, the obligation to report to Congress on Iran’s conformity has created an unwelcome, tri-monthly headache. Still undecided about whether to withdraw from the deal, Trump must either vouch for Tehran’s compliance or try to claim Iran is breaching it — even though the International Atomic Energy Agency that monitors the deal says it is not.

    In its condemnation of Iran, senior officials emphasized several longstanding U.S. concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programs, human rights abuses and support for terrorism in the region. They also criticized Iran for detaining U.S. citizens and limiting freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf.

    Under the deal struck by Obama and other world leaders, Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear program — long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons — in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. The deal does not address global concerns about Iran’s non-nuclear activities, but also doesn’t prevent the U.S. and others from punishing Iran for those activities. Iran remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism for its support of anti-Israel groups.

    Scuttling the deal would put further distance between Trump and foreign leaders who are already upset over his move to withdraw from the Paris global climate change accord. Other powers that brokered the nuclear deal along with the U.S. have said there’s no appetite for renegotiating it.

    AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and AP writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

    The post U.S. says Iran complying with nuclear deal, but defying its ‘spirit’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Representative Diane Black addresses the media during the 2017 "Congress of Tomorrow" Joint Republican Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in January. Photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    Representative Diane Black addresses the media during the 2017 “Congress of Tomorrow” Joint Republican Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in January. Photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a 10-year budget blueprint that would dramatically increase military spending while putting the GOP on record favoring Medicare cuts opposed by President Donald Trump.

    The GOP plan, authored by Budget Chairman Diane Black, R-Tenn., would also pave the way for overhauling the U.S. tax code this fall, and would pair that effort with cuts to benefit programs such as food stamps. The plan also lays out a plan to balance the budget inside a decade through deep cuts to a wide swath of domestic programs — though GOP leaders have no intention of actually carrying out the cuts.

    Black announced a committee vote for Wednesday, but action by the entire House could be delayed by an ongoing quarrel between the GOP’s tea party and moderate factions over spending cuts.

    Medicare is the second largest mandatory program after Social Security, and the House GOP plan again proposes to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program in which future retirees would receive a fixed benefit to purchase health insurance on the open market. Republicans have proposed the idea each year since taking back the House in 2011, but they’ve never tried to implement it — and that’s not going to change now, even with a Republican as president.

    The plan, in theory at least, promises to balance the budget through unprecedented and unworkable cuts across the budget. It calls for turning this year’s projected $700 billion or so deficit into a tiny $9 billion surplus by 2027. It would do so by slashing $5.4 trillion over the coming decade, including almost $500 billion from Medicare, $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and the Obama health law, along with enormous cuts to benefits such as federal employee pensions, food stamps, and tax credits for the working poor.

    “The status quo is unsustainable. A mounting national debt and lackluster economic growth will limit opportunity for people all across the country,” Black said in a statement. “But we don’t have to accept this reality. We can move forward with an optimistic vision for the future and this budget is the first step in that process. This is the moment to get real results for the American people. The time for talking is over, now is the time for action.”

    But in the immediate future the GOP measure is a budget buster. It would add almost $30 billion to Trump’s $668 billion request for national defense, which already exceeds an existing “cap” on spending by $54 billion. But while Trump proposed taking that $54 billion from domestic agencies and foreign aid, the GOP budget plan would restore most of the cuts, trimming non-defense agencies by just $5 billion.

    All told, the GOP plan would spend about $67 billion more in the upcoming annual appropriations bills than would be allowed under harsh spending limits set by a failed 2011 budget and debt agreement and pads war accounts by $10 billion. And, like Trump’s budget, the House GOP plan assumes rosy economic projections that would erase another $1.5 trillion from the deficit over 10 years.

    The measure, called a budget resolution, is nonbinding. It would allow Republicans controlling Congress to pass follow-up legislation through the Senate without the threat of a filibuster by Democrats. GOP leaders and the White House plan to use that measure to rewrite the tax code.

    As proposed by House leaders, tax reform would essentially be deficit neutral, which means cuts to tax rates would be mostly “paid for” by closing various tax breaks such as the deduction for state and local taxes. However, the GOP plan would devote $300 billion claimed from economic growth to the tax reform effort.

    But conservatives are insisting on adding cuts to so-called mandatory programs, which make up more than two-thirds of the federal budget and basically run on autopilot. After extended negotiations, Black would instruct 11 House panels to draw up $203 billion worth of mandatory cuts. But neither tea party lawmakers nor moderates are pleased with the idea. Conservatives want larger cuts, while moderates are blanching at voting to cut popular programs such as food stamps.

    WATCH: Trump’s historically low approval ratings could spell trouble for Republicans

    The post House GOP budget plan calls for major cuts to benefits, paving way for tax overhaul bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Vice President Mike Pence addressed the latest blows to the GOP health care bill during his speech today at the Retail Advocates Summit in Washington, D.C. Watch the vice president’s remarks above.

    WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says Congress needs to “step up” and “do their job” in the aftermath of the Republican health care plan’s failure to win consensus in the Senate.

    Pence said in a speech to the National Retail Federation on Tuesday that the Senate should vote to repeal the so-called Obamacare law and replace it with a new plan. Or he says it should return to the “carefully crafted” legislation in the House and the Senate.

    But Pence says “inaction is not an option” and Congress needs to act to address health care.

    Pence spoke shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted late Monday that Republicans should repeal the law and work on a new health care plan “that will start from a clean slate.”

    READ MORE: The health care bill collapses, leaving a divided GOP at crossroads

    The post WATCH: Vice President Pence says Congress need to ‘step up’ on health care appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks with reporters about the withdrawn Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTX3BYO7

    Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks with reporters July 18 about the withdrawn Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein – RTX3BYO7

    After a rapid-fire, monumental hour of news on the Senate health care bill last night, Republicans of all ranks now find themselves on shaky ground. It’s easy to get lost in conflicting opinions (and presidential tweets); here’s some clarity about the current state of health care reform.

    WHAT HAPPENED?

    • Senate Republicans do not have the 50 votes they need to pass their health care plan. (Sens. Mike Lee, Utah, and Jerry Moran, Kansas, became the critical no votes last night.)That bill is dead.
    • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now wants to have a vote on a bill that is a simple, full repeal of the Affordable Care Act (dropping Medicaid reform along with the rest of the Senate bill).

    HOW WOULD A REPEAL WORK?

    • McConnell, R-Ky., needs to start Senate debate on the health care bill passed by the House and then amend it to become a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act. McConnell proposes allowing two years for Congress to draft and pass a replacement.
    • It’s not clear that Senate Republicans have the 50 votes needed to begin debate on the House health care bill. (A procedure called a “motion to proceed.”)
    • It’s also not clear that Senate Republicans have 50 votes to pass a straight repeal without a replacement plan. (This would be an amendment.)
    • It’s not clear whether House Republicans have the 218 votes needed to pass a straight repeal, either.
    • As a reminder, both chambers passed a straight repeal in 2015. But those House and Senate votes happened in a theoretical environment. Republicans knew President Barack Obama would veto the repeal, and a replacement plan would not be necessary.

    WHAT’S NEXT?

    • A growing number of senators, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are publicly calling for a more regular process, with hearings and a chance for Democrats to give input.
    • This could all have enormous implications for the stability and price of health care in America — as well as for every other major issue Republicans hope to tackle, including tax reform, spending bills, raising the debt ceiling and infrastructure.
    • We do not know when the Senate will vote and whether the Senate will change its August schedule. It is currently set to work for the first two weeks of the month, and recess after that.

    The post What’s next for the GOP health care bills? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 1100 | 1101 | (Page 1102) | 1103 | 1104 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...