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  • Pelosi to accept plan for term limits as Speaker of the House

    Winning over the votes of a last rebel group of House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday evening that she would agree to serve no more than four years as Speaker of the House, accepting a plan from younger lawmakers in her party which would limit senior House leadership to a maximum of eight years in those high profile positions.

    “I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,” Pelosi said in a statement, as Democrats planned a vote by mid-February on the term limit plan.

    Pelosi’s agreement seems to pave the [More]

  • Amid Trump shutdown threat, Congress tries to wrap up work for 2018

    As President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to force a partial government shutdown before Christmas if he doesn’t get $5 billion for a wall along the Mexican border, Congressional leaders were trying to clear the decks in the House and Senate for a final surge of legislative work in the 115th Congress, in hopes of getting lawmakers out of town before the holidays.

    “With maximum cooperation, magic things happen at Christmas,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as he threatened to keep the Senate in session between Christmas and New Year’s in order to finish work for the year.

    Hanging over [More]

  • VIDEO: Trump and top Democrats spar in Oval Office showdown

    Demanding that Democrats accept his call for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico, President Donald Trump sparred with top Democrats in Congress in an extraordinary scene played out before television cameras in the Oval Office on Tuesday, as the President said he would be happy to see a partial government funding lapse later this month unless gets his way on money for to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

    “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” the President said in what quickly escalated into a bitter back and [More]

  • Before Congress, Google CEO denies partisan bias in search results

    Taking flak from both parties in his first testimony on Capitol Hill, the head of Google denied charges from Republican lawmakers that his company produces politically biased search results, and tussled with other lawmakers worried about the amount of location data taken in by Google from consumers when using the company’s apps and search engine.

    GOP lawmakers said too often a simple search about a Republican legislative initiative brings back nothing which would be considered non-partisan.

    “Article after article opposing the Republican tax cut,” complained Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), as he joined a series of GOP lawmakers in saying that Google was [More]

  • Top Democrats to meet with President on border wall funding dispute

    Facing a December 21 funding deadline, the top two Democrats in Congress go to the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Donald Trump, with little in the way of obvious answers on how they will find middle ground on the President’s demand for $5 billion in a year-end funding deal to build the President’s wall along the border with Mexico.

    “When President Trump proposed this as a candidate, he said, ‘Mark my words, I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall,'” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said in recent days, making it clear his party wants no part of funding [More]

  • As Trump denies wrongdoing, pace of Russia probe quickens

    Even as President Donald Trump again denounced the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and any ties to his campaign as a ‘witch hunt,’ federal prosecutors on Monday reached a plea bargain agreement with a Russian woman accused of illegal political activity in the U.S., and the Special Counsel’s office prepared to reveal details of alleged lies by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

    The federal judge overseeing Manafort’s case suddenly scheduled a status hearing for Tuesday afternoon, as Robert Mueller’s office is expected to publicly file a redacted version of a report on what lies the government claims [More]

  • Denouncing Cohen, Trump disputes campaign link to payoff of women

    Three days after federal prosecutors in New York said the President directed his former personal lawyer to pay off two women in an effort to keep them quiet before the 2016 election, President Donald Trump rejected the assertion that the thousands of dollars funneled through Michael Cohen could be construed in any way as a violation of federal campaign election laws, a matter which some experts believe could put the President in legal jeopardy.

    “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun,” the President tweeted before sunrise on Monday. “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it [More]

  • Top Pence aide won’t fill post as Trump’s Chief of Staff

    A day after announcing that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would be leaving his post, President Donald Trump’s plan to shift the Vice President’s Chief of Staff into the job collapsed on Sunday, as a White House official told reporters that the President had been unable to reach a deal with Pence aide Nick Ayers, leaving Mr. Trump to look for another choice.

    Ayers had been talked about for weeks as Kelly’s replacement, as the President’s relationship with his Chief of Staff worsened in recent months; but White House official told reporters Sunday that Ayers only wanted to serve [More]

  • Tidbits from the closed door questioning of James Comey

    House Republicans on Saturday released a transcript of their private interview on Friday with former FBI Director James Comey, detailing a lengthy closed door skirmish between Comey and GOP lawmakers over the origin of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and how Comey dealt with the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as Secretary of State.

    It was the first of two private sessions, as Comey is scheduled to return to Congress on December 17.

    Because there were no television cameras, the transcript is the only way to get a bead on what was said [More]

  • Feds: Manafort lied to prosecutors, Cohen should get jail time

    In a trio of documents submitted to judges on Friday evening in New York and Washington, federal prosecutors accused President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort of lying repeatedly to investigators even after agreeing to cooperate in the Russia investigation, and suggested a four year prison term for the President’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, while acknowledging his extensive help in the Russia probe by the Special Counsel’s office.

    “Manafort told multiple discernible lies,” Special Counsel Robert Mueller told a judge, “these were not instances of memory lapses.”

    In a 10 page document, the Special Counsel also detailed how Manafort [More]

  • Scientists are seeing surprising melting in Earth’s polar regions at times they don’t expect, like winter, and in places they don’t expect, like eastern Antarctica. New studies and reports issued this week at a major Earth sciences conference paint one of the bleakest pictures yet of dramatic warming in the Arctic and Antarctica. Alaskan scientists described to The Associated Press Tuesday never-before-seen melting and odd winter problems, including permafrost that never refroze this past winter and wildlife die-offs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tuesday released its annual Arctic report card, detailing the second warmest year on record in the Arctic and problems, including record low winter sea ice in parts of the region, increased toxic algal blooms, which are normally a warm water phenomenon, and weather changes in the rest of the country attributable to what’s happening in the far North. “The Arctic is experiencing the most unprecedented transition in human history,” report lead author Emily Osborne, chief of Arctic research for NOAA, said Tuesday.
  • “Kids’ stuff. Kids’ stuff and children books.” Home surveillance cameras captured that conversation between two Florida women Monday afternoon as they snatched five packages from the porch of a Tampa-area home, WFTS reported. In a news release, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the thefts occurred around 1:30 p.m. in a Riverview subdivision. The women drove away in a dark-colored Volvo SUV, WTVT reported. In a Facebook post, Neal Rivera posted the surveillance video and still shots of the porch pirates. 'These nice young lady’s (sic) were worried that someone would steal our unattended packages so they thought they would take them home and keep them safe. I’m sure they will bring them back later,” he wrote. Rivera said his phone went off with camera notifications when the packages were delivered, and then it went off again when they were taken, WTVT reported. “I’m not upset about the items they took,” Rivera told the television station. “It was the attitude they came in and they made a comment, 'Oh, look it's kids’ clothes. It's Children's Place.' And they were like excited about it. So, they knew they were talking little kids stuff.” On Tuesday, Rivera’s phone went off again, but this time his surveillance camera recorded an act of kindness, WTVT reported. >> Woman steals package, finds it’s filled with superworms “I got a notification on the front door, and of course I quickly went to my phone. And as I look at my front door, it's our church family coming and dropping off gifts here, waving at the camera saying ‘I hope you get your stuff back, but here's something in the meantime,’” Rivera told the television station. “I don’t have to worry about my kids not having something. That's not my concern. I just want the people caught.' In his Facebook post, Rivera said he would not have cared if the women had stolen items he bought for himself. “If they would have just asked I would have bought their kids even more than they stole,” he wrote. Another Riverview man, Mike Hayes, filed a report with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, including video that appears to show the same two women taking packages from his porch, WFTS reported. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anybody with information to call them at (813) 247-8200.
  • Delta Air Lines said it will ban service and support animals under 4 months old, and will also ban emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours. The change, effective Dec. 18, is the latest tightening of policies on service animals and emotional support animals by the airline.  >> Read more trending news  The company said in a Monday announcement that it has seen an 84 percent increase in incidents reported involving service and support animals in 2016 and 2017, “including urination/defecation, biting” and a mauling by a 50-pound dog. Delta said its new policy aligns with the CDC vaccination policy, and the limit on emotional support animals on long flights lines up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act. “These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs -- such as veterans with disabilities -- to travel with trained service and support animals,” John Laughter, Delta senior vice president of corporate safety, security and compliance, said in a statement. Some of the airline’s policy changes earlier in the year have prompted criticism from groups representing people who use service animals, including those who use pit bulls.  The new policy takes effect for tickets booked Dec. 18 or later. Regardless of booking date, it will also take effect for flights Feb. 1 or later. Delta said it will contact customers to adjust reservations if the policy affects them. More information on the airline’s service and support animal policy is at Delta.com. 
  • People in Georgia and Tennessee were woken up by an earthquake early Wednesday.  >> Read more trending news  The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake happened about 4:15 a.m. near Decatur, Tennessee. It had a magnitude of 4.4. A smaller 3.3-magnitude quake followed about 13 minutes later, according to the USGS. Atlanta’s WSB-TV received dozens of phone calls in the minutes following the quake. Please return for updates.
  • As President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to force a partial government shutdown before Christmas if he doesn’t get $5 billion for a wall along the Mexican border, Congressional leaders were trying to clear the decks in the House and Senate for a final surge of legislative work in the 115th Congress, in hopes of getting lawmakers out of town before the holidays. “With maximum cooperation, magic things happen at Christmas,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as he threatened to keep the Senate in session between Christmas and New Year’s in order to finish work for the year. Hanging over the schedule was the President’s threat to force a showdown over government funding, unless he wins more money for border security. “I don’t think the President’s bluffing,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) to a group of reporters just off the Senate floor. “I think he’s a serious as four heart attacks and a stroke.” . @SenJohnKennedy leaving GOP lunch with @VP after the Trump/Pence/Schumer/Pelosi meeting: 'I don't think the president is bluffing, I think he's serious as four heart attacks and a stroke and I think he's prepared to shut it down.' — Eliza Collins (@elizacollins1) December 11, 2018 Here’s where we stand: 1. Trump: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.” In a highly unusual Oval Office meeting that went off the rails in front of television cameras and reporters, President Trump sparred with Democratic leaders over what to do on the border wall issue, as he repeatedly proclaimed that he would gladly be responsible for a partial funding lapse on December 21. “I’m going to shut it down for border security,” the President said. “But we believe you shouldn’t shut it down,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer answered, as the President publicly sparred with Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Much of the government has already been funded for 2019, so any shutdown before Christmas would be more limited than usual. You can watch part of the Oval Office exchange here: CLIP: Exchange between President Trump, @NancyPelosi & @SenSchumer on border security and government shutdown. Watch full video here: https://t.co/5Y6NEITjCe pic.twitter.com/kVmcJKkEbx — CSPAN (@cspan) December 11, 2018 2. $5 billion for border wall not a GOP slam dunk. President Trump on Tuesday repeatedly made clear that he wants $5 billion for his wall along the Mexican border, arguing Democrats are the ones who are blocking that funding. But the truth is that GOP leaders in the House aren’t sure they have a majority of votes for $5 billion for the border wall – one reason the funding bill for the Homeland Security Department was never voted on before the elections. There was some talk on Wednesday that the House might try to vote on such a bill, but House Speaker Paul Ryan instead was talking about supporting whatever can get through the Senate. In other words, the President may want $5 billion, but the Republican Congress may not be able to deliver. For what it's worth, it's very doubtful that Ryan/McCarthy have 218 votes on their side a gov't funding bill, even one including $5b for the wall. Some conservatives will balk at other spending, moderates will oppose the wall & some midterm losers might not show to vote. — Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) December 11, 2018 3. McConnell agrees to move on criminal justice reform. After refusing to get on board with a bipartisan plan that has the backing of the President, the Senate Majority Leader announced on Tuesday that he will push for action in the Senate in coming days on a criminal justice reform measure, which backers say could get 70 votes in the Senate. But – there are strong opponents, like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), and it wasn’t known whether Cotton would try to string out the debate because of concerns over changes in early release of certain criminals, changes to mandatory minimum sentences, and press new reforms in federal prisons for inmates. In a major announcement, Mitch McConnell said he'll bring the FIRST STEP Act up for a vote this month. The bipartisan bill would be the biggest reform of our justice system in a generation, and would move us closer to ending mass incarceration. https://t.co/wvuzvRY8rf — Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) December 11, 2018 4. New Farm Bill on its way to Congressional approval. One clear sign that the Congress is moving to finish work for the year is that the Senate voted 87-13 on Wednesday to approve a massive new farm policy bill. The “Farm Bill” includes all sorts of tweaks and changes to agricultural programs in the United States, which touch all fifty states. Also, it includes the SNAP program – more commonly known as food stamps – which House Republicans wanted to make major changes in terms of work requirements. But in order to get a final deal, many of those GOP changes did not happen. The 807 page bill is chock full of all sorts of local items, like one provision which could possibly establish a “Natural Stone Research and Promotion Board.” Overall though, it was a bipartisan bonanza for lawmakers to tout to the folks back home. Today I supported the Farm Bill Conference Report, which passed w/ a bipartisan vote of 87-13. It will help provide #Ohio farmers w/ the certainty & predictability they deserve & promote economic development & #job creation in our rural communities https://t.co/I6xXZozLIo — Rob Portman (@senrobportman) December 11, 2018 5. GOP tries second version of late tax bill. After a 297 page package of tax relief ran into the ditch because of a lack of support in the House after Thanksgiving, Republicans re-tooled the plan and released a new 253 page version on Monday, which deals with an array of tax issues – disaster relief, an expansion of 529 college savings accounts, delays in several taxes from the Obama health law, changes and technical corrections to last year’s GOP tax law, and a number of IRS reforms. No longer in the bill are an array of provisions known as the “tax extenders” – special interest tax breaks which get approved every year or two, along with a lot of grumbling by lawmakers about the cost involved. But like the first version, it isn’t clear if this GOP tax bill is going anywhere. Extenders have been removed. Instead, health care taxes are being delayed. The medical device tax is delayed until 2025, and the Cadillac Tax is delayed until 2023. — Nicole Kaeding (@NKaeding) December 10, 2018 6. House and Senate still at odds on sex harassment changes. While members of the House and Senate agree that changes are needed in how the Congress handles sexual harassment accusations in Congressional offices – and against lawmakers – getting a final bill has not been easy. That’s come as a surprise to some lawmakers, who assumed the Congress would swiftly finish such a plan. But there’s been opposition to major changes from Senators, which has left House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi saying that if the Congress doesn’t go far enough, then the House will change its own rules to deal with the issue. “We can take other action that applies to the House,” Pelosi said last week. Q: Why is this #MeToo bill taking so, so long? Pelosi: 'The bills were quite different. But now they're coming closer together.' They're almost out of time to do this. — Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) December 6, 2018 7. House moves to prevent any War Powers vote on Yemen. While the Senate is ready to debate and vote measures related to U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia in the civil war in Yemen, GOP leaders in the House have evidently decided that they want no part of anything related to that. On Tuesday night, the House Rules Committee reported out a resolution which provides for action on the Farm Bill – but tucked into that was a provision which squashes the opportunity for debate on any War Powers resolution dealing with Yemen. “Despicable,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who said Speaker Paul Ryan “is shirking responsibility for debating our involvement in the Yemen war by hiding the war resolution in a procedural vote on the farm bill.” The GOP rule for House floor debate on the Farm Bill has a provision that squashes debate on any Yemen resolution pic.twitter.com/IeT2nZ9WIV — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) December 12, 2018