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Friday
Apr282017

House passes bill to temporarily avert shutdown

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House approved a short-term measure Friday to keep the government funded for another week, a move that would give lawmakers more time to reach a deal on a larger spending package.

The measures now heads to the Senate for approval.

The move comes as the House prepares to leave Washington without a vote on the GOP health care bill, denying President Trump a major legislative victory in his first 100 days in office.

The end of the frenzied week on Capitol Hill underscores the trouble Republicans have had fulfilling both the most basic functions of governance and implementing their ambitious agenda with GOP control of both the White House and Congress.

“One hundred days of broken promises,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., quipped Friday morning.

Democrats, who have railed against GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, had threatened to vote against the continuing resolution to fund the government should Republicans move forward on health care, in an effort to pressure the majority.

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the threat, predicting Democrats would be blamed for a partial government shutdown.

Appropriators are finalizing a $1 trillion-plus spending deal, and negotiations continue over natural disaster response funding and funds to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

The measure is expected to contain funds for border security technology, but not funding for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which Trump had initially demanded Congress include in the bill.

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Friday
Apr282017

Donald Trump is first president to address the NRA in 34 years

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- President Donald Trump is following in the footsteps of former President Ronald Reagan by speaking at a National Rifle Association event.

Friday's speech, at the NRA's Leadership Forum in Atlanta, won't be Trump's first talk to the gun rights group. He was endorsed by the NRA in May and spoke at their convention at the time.

But his appearance later Friday marks the first time that a sitting president has addressed the group since Reagan did so in 1983.

The NRA is known for their sizable lobbying operation and by raising money for -- and against -- candidates. The group made over $52 million in donations to candidates during the 2016 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They spent $30.3 million in support of Trump, the CRP reported.

Trump campaigned on the pledge to support and protect the Second Amendment, which he said during his May NRA appearance, was "under a threat like never before." He pointed to his then-rival Hillary Clinton as the basis for that threat.

"Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, not change it; she wants to abolish it," Trump said at the time, although Clinton had never made such claims.

"The Second Amendment is on the ballot in November. The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person you know: Donald Trump," he said.

Trump has noted that his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have been longtime members of the NRA, and during the May speech, he said that "they have so many rifles and so many guns, even I get concerned."

During the second presidential debate, Trump promised to appoint Supreme Court justices that will "respect the Second Amendment and what it stands for and what it represents," and said that the list of 20 judges that he released as possible picks all fit that bill. Judge Neil Gorsuch, who he later nominated and has since been appointed to the Supreme Court, was on that list.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that hundreds of protesters and gun control advocates are reportedly gathering near the convention site this morning. Part of the protest will feature a "die-in," where 93 people will lie down in a local park to represent the number of people who die from gun violence every day, the paper reports.

There will be another protest on Saturday, and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia is scheduled to attend.

Lewis and Trump have a turbulent history. Lewis did not attend the inauguration and said he did not see Trump as a "legitimate president." Trump returned the favor by criticizing the civil rights leader, saying that he was "all talk, talk, talk -- no action or results."

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Friday
Apr282017

On Michael Flynn, AG Sessions says vetting can't 'catch everything'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "you don't catch everything" in reference to the Trump team's vetting of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn, who was fired early in his tenure by President Trump, is under scrutiny for his dealings with Russia, including whether the former Army lieutenant general violated the law by accepting payments from foreign governments.

"We need to do a good job of vetting, but that’s a complex issue and I'm not sure anyone could be expected to find that," Sessions told ABC News' Amy Robach live on Good Morning America Friday.

"I’m comfortable that they’re working hard to do vetting. But it's obvious that often times you don’t catch everything that might be a problem," Sessions continued. "I don’t know the facts of this case; maybe there's an explanation for it."

Sessions' comments came one day after the White House appeared to try shift blame to the previous administration for the Trump transition team's approval of Flynn's security clearance.

Flynn was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under former President Barack Obama, but he was forced out of that role after two years and ultimately retired.

"His [security] clearance was last reissued by the Obama administration in 2016 with full knowledge of his activities that occurred in 2015," press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday afternoon.

President Trump announced the appointment of Flynn as national security adviser in November 2016.

The president fired him in February after it was revealed that he allegedly misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of conversations Flynn had with Russia's U.S. ambassador.

Documents released in mid-March showed Flynn was paid a total of $56,200 in 2015 by three Russian firms owned by or closely tied to the Russian government.

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Friday
Apr282017

President Trump won't see healthcare vote in first 100 days

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Citing a lack of votes for the measure, House GOP leaders said they would not hold a vote on Friday for a new healthcare bill intended to replace President Obama's signature domestic law.

The announcement assures that President Trump will fail to reach a legislative milestone on healthcare in his 100 days in office.

"As soon as we have the votes, we'll vote on it," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Thursday night after departing a House GOP leadership meeting that went for almost two hours.

Instead, the House will only vote Friday on a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open for another week as negotiators attempt to wrap up talks on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill.

As of Thursday evening, at least 17 House Republicans were prepared to vote against the amended healthcare bill, according to ABC's whip list. Another 17 House Republicans, at the very least, were undecided.

Assuming all Democrats are present, GOP leaders can't afford to lose more than 21 Republicans and still pass a new health care bill.

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Thursday
Apr272017

President Trump: Economic growth is going to pay for new tax cuts

Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump said on Thursday that economic growth would make up for lost revenue from a sweeping tax cut plan proposed earlier this week.

"The growth is going to pay for it," Trump told ABC News on the White House's Rose Garden during Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, as he signed autographs for children of members of the media and administration officials. "Wait until you see the growth."

The blueprint was unveiled Wednesday as a one-page document -- which outlined a plan that would slice the corporate tax rate to 15 percent while simplifying the individual tax code -- but it gave few details on what the plan would mean for the federal deficit and national debt.

"It will happen quickly, and ... the jobs have already started," Trump said, adding that "a lot of positive things" are going to happen on tax reform. "You saw last year, GDP at 1.6 percent. That is a terrible situation for this country but last year is not this year."

But experts interviewed this week by ABC News said economic growth likely wouldn't make up for the massive loss in federal revenue. One analysis, by the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the Trump’s plan could cost anywhere between 3 and 7 trillion dollars in lost revenue over the next decade.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made similar comments yesterday at the White House. "This will pay for itself with growth and with reduction of different deductions and closing loopholes," he said.


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Thursday
Apr272017

Daughters of fallen Marine shadow members of Congress on Take Your Kid to Work Day

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Capitol Hill was crawling with kids Thursday. Beyond the usual school groups and tours, there were dozens of youngsters joining their parents for national Take Your Kid to Work Day.

House Speaker Paul Ryan ended his weekly press conference by asking all the "junior" reporters to come onstage for a picture.

The son of a Getty photographer was there to capture the moment.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi greeted children for photos with her office too.

Among those shadowing the grown-ups were two girls from Texas who lost their father, a former Marine, a few years ago.

First Sergeant Jonathan Compton served in the U.S. Marines for 15 years, including in combat, before taking his own life in 2014. Thanks to an organization called Tuesday's Children, which was
established after 9/11 to help care for kids who lost parents, Compton's two daughters and other children of fallen military service members were able to fly to Washington go to work today with
members of Congress.

Compton's two daughters, both with long straight hair and freckles on the bridge of their noses, met with both Democrats and Republicans today. They heard speeches and even went to meetings.
Bailey, aged 7, said the best part of her day was meeting Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL). Kelly took the young girl on to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"She took pledge of allegiance and heard each congressperson give their messages," Kelly told ABC about Bailey's visit. She said her message to all girls was that they should run for office one
day. Bailey replied by saying, “I may be the president.”

Sara Compton, Johnathan’s widow, took the girls to see the national monuments yesterday and joined her family at the Capitol today. She said her husband would have been proud and “so excited” to
see his girls in the halls of Congress.

“We think of him every day and everywhere we are. It is so important to me to shine a light on the need for mental health benefits, not only for our veterans but for our first responders,” she told
ABC News.

Compton served in the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's maritime raid force.

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Thursday
Apr272017

Reporter's Notebook: Inside the White House's sprint to the 100-day finish line

Gary Blakeley/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump may have called the 100-day point of his presidency a “ridiculous marker,” but on the ground this past week the White House has been engaged in an all-hands-on-deck, all-out sprint hoping to put last-minute wins on the board.

On Wednesday, the White House dispatched the Treasury secretary, the president's chief economic adviser, the commerce secretary, a top national security official and the VA secretary for in-person briefings, including a conference call with a top official in the Department of Education.

The breakneck pace of back-to-back-to-back briefings left some reporters running in and out of all of them to chase down the news of the day. Whether it involved the president popping by the North Korea briefing as a senior national security adviser briefed on the situation simultaneously, or when Sen. Chris Coons found himself ambushed by reporters on the North Lawn as more than 90 of his fellow senators began loading onto rented coach buses back to Capitol Hill.

In addition to that, in an arrangement that can only be described as Cabinet speed dating, several executive branch officials and senior staff were tasked with doing multiple radio and TV interviews, trying to fan the administration's message across the country. The effort included octogenarian Wilbur Ross moving from chair to chair for media sit-downs in the makeshift radio row in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Observing the roll-out of Wednesday's tax plan, it appeared to be the result of a staff caught off-guard by the president’s impromptu promise last week to deliver on a signature campaign promise. The one-page, multiple-font, double-spaced outline included far less detail than even the tax plan the president rolled out as a candidate.

The president, on the other hand, by all appearances coasted through the week with a relaxed demeanor. He has invited reporters into the Oval Office for private interviews, signed executive orders where he joked that he didn’t have time to read the whole text, and made off-campus visits to the Treasury Department, the Interior Department and today to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Yesterday he spent the late afternoon on the phone with the Mexican president and Canadian prime minister after Politico quoted one of his “top aides” saying he was preparing to sign an executive order withdrawing from NAFTA, and then bragged about his negotiations Thursday morning on Twitter.

The drama around the prospect of the government shutting down or the potential for a revived health care bill has been mostly kept outside the confines of the White House. Meanwhile Trump is heading for a weekend in one of his favorite settings: a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the fourth of his presidency.

The thought of the president “among the people” in a key state that delivered his election win as DC’s press dons black ties and gowns in the Washington Hilton has every aide grinning. For a president with few substantive policy wins on his watch, they couldn’t have drawn out better optics for the 100th day in a TV script.

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Thursday
Apr272017

Obama administration reviewed Mike Flynn's security clearance, Trump WH says

Mario Tama/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House today attempted to shift blame for the vetting of President Trump's former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, to the Obama administration.

"His [security] clearance was last reissued by the Obama administration in 2016 with full knowledge of his activities that occurred in 2015," press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday afternoon.

When asked whether Flynn would still have his job if he hadn't been fired by the president in February, Spicer said, "I will just say they think the president made the right call at the right time and it's clearly paid off."

Spicer also said the Trump administration welcomes the Department of Defense investigation of Flynn.

Flynn, who was President Trump's first national security adviser, was fired after it was discovered that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with a Russian official.

Flynn had been warned in a letter from the Pentagon against receiving payments from foreign governments in 2014 after leaving the Defense Intelligence Agency, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., revealed on Thursday.

The letter, released on Thursday by Cummings, was a primer on ethics restrictions that apply to retired military officers and it warned that Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, was prohibited from
receiving foreign payments without prior approval, under the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Defense Department's inspector general opened the probe today into whether Flynn received permission to accept foreign payments.

Documents released in March showed Flynn was paid a total of $56,200 in 2015 by three Russian firms owned by or closely tied to the Kremlin.

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Thursday
Apr272017

GOP pushes for a 1-week funding bill to avert government shutdown

tupungato/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- To avert a government shutdown at the end of the week, lawmakers are hoping that a stopgap measure would provide Congressional leadership more time to negotiate a larger funding
bill.

The deadline for Congress to pass a spending bill is midnight Friday, aligning with President Donald Trump's 100th day in office.

But this new short-term Continuing Resolution (CR), introduced by House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen late Wednesday, would extend funding to May 5, until Congress can pass a bill
that would fund the government through September.

“This Continuing Resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalize legislation to fund the federal government for the rest
of the fiscal year," Rep. Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, said in a statement released last night.

Frelinghuysen added, “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon."

"The reason this government funding bill is not ready is because Democrats have been dragging their feet," Ryan said on Thursday. "So the reason we need an extension in the first place is because
Democrats are dragging their feet. ... People need to be able to read the bill so it inevitably, under any scenario or circumstance requires a short-term extension."

While Republicans believe the CR will pass the House and the Senate, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Democrats will support the measure but it "depends on what form it
takes."

Pelosi said the Democrats' position is if they're ready to cut a deal on the larger spending bill, they'll support the CR being pushed by Republicans and "allow another week."

"But if it's just more time kicking the can down the road to have the same back-and-forths and unknowns injected into the debate, we're not there," Pelosi said.

Pelosi acknowledged that some Democrats don't want any stopgap bill passed: "They think that ... there's been plenty of time and they're not going vote for the CR. But depending on where we are on
this bill I think some will, I will," Pelosi said.

"We are never going to shut the government down," Pelosi said. "We are hoping that we will be able to resolve these differences."

The bipartisan negotiations on an all-encompassing funding bill have focused on funding for Trump's proposed border wall and Affordable Care Act subsidies for insurers.

Ryan said the bill would not include key Obamacare subsidy payments to insurers, which Democrats were hoping to protect. However, Republicans have offered Democrats a deal that doesn't include
funding for the wall.

Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday, "We're getting really close" to a final spending bill. "Now it's just kind of getting down to the final details."

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Thursday
Apr272017

Memorable moments from Trump's first 100 days in office

dibrova/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is well versed in how to make a splash.

The former reality star-turned-commander-in-chief marked his first 100 days in office with progress on some of his promises, a surprise exit of a key member of his team and a show of force that has
started to shape his foreign policy doctrine.

Here is a review of some of the biggest moments of the Trump presidency so far.

Taking the stage

Over his three-plus months in office, Trump welcomed a dozen world leaders to the White House, holding joint press conferences with seven of them while they visited Washington, D.C. He also opened
the doors to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida -- the so-called winter White House -- inviting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe down for a night and spending the entirety of Chinese President Xi
Jinping's visit with him there.

One of the most unexpected moments of the administration so far came when he took the stage by himself, however, giving the only solo news conference so far in his term. The 75-minute news
conference on Feb. 16 covered a range of topics, including a defense of his administration’s work up through that point and a sharp criticism of the media.

He received high praise after another solo appearance, but this time he had a speech in hand: Trump addressed a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28 and spoke about the direction in which he hopes
to take the country and the action that his team had taken up until that point on a number of issues.

A historic choice

One of the clearest accomplishments of his term so far has been the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, though even that was not without controversy.

In order to get Gorsuch confirmed, the Senate voted to change the longstanding confirmation process and lower the 60-vote threshold to a simple majority vote because Republicans did not have enough
votes to confirm Gorsuch on their own. The move, known as "going nuclear," means that from now on only 51 votes are required for such a confirmation.

Unfulfilled promises

Throughout the campaign, Trump frequently listed off issues that he would address head-on when he took office, saying that he would accomplish a great deal on "day one," and he also regularly
listed larger measures that he was going to take to clean up Washington, protect American workers, and restore security and the constitutional rule of law” in the first 100 days in office.

Now that the 100-day milestone is approaching, however, it has become clear that there are some promises that have not come to fruition thus far.

The Republican push for a repeal and replacement of Obamacare -- which had been a routine refrain on the campaign trail -- failed to garner enough votes to pass, so it was pulled. The first
iteration of Trump's controversial travel ban -- a major part of his campaign platform -- was blocked in federal court and then withdrawn in favor of the second iteration, which has also been
blocked by a federal court.

One campaign promise that the Trump administration has started to pursue is the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and they have solicited proposals for its construction. One key
initial proposal -- having Mexico pay for the wall -- has evolved since Trump took office, however, and for now, the Trump administration is saying that Mexico will pay for the wall eventually, but
the U.S. paying for it in the meantime to get the process started.

In terms of tangible progress, the White House released a statement saying Trump will have signed 30 executive orders by his 100th day in office. Some of the most notable included one that
restarted the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, one calling for increased border security -- which includes the hiring of 5,000 more border patrol agents -- and an order following through
on a campaign promise to stop any executive branch employees from lobbying for five years after leaving the government and a lifetime ban from foreign lobbying.

Defining his foreign policy

In the second half of the first 100 days, much attention was paid to the increasing focus that Trump and his administration were dedicating to issues overseas.

The targeted missile strike against an air base in Syria on April 6 came in reaction to the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians, which Trump said "crossed many, many lines."

The next strike ordered since Trump has taken office came on April 13, when the U.S. dropped the GBU-43, or massive ordnance air blast (MOAB) bomb, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” on a complex
of ISIS-controlled caves in the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan. According to The Associated Press, the Afghan Defense Ministry reports that 95 militants and no civilians were killed. These
figures have not been independently verified by ABC News.

The Trump administration has also tangled with North Korea, with Trump and his team, including Vice President Mike Pence, saying that they won't allow any threats made by the country to go
unnoticed.

The rebukes from the Trump administration came after a set of intercontinental ballistic missiles were featured in a massive military display in central Pyongyang during the country's annual parade
in celebration of its founder. A subsequent missile launch failed, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.

When Trump was asked for his message to North Korea after its failed missile launch, the president responded, "They gotta behave."

High-profile personnel issues

The team around Trump has had one notable departure and one noteworthy addition during the first 100 days, both of which were memorable moments in the course of the administration.

One unexpected removal from the Trump train came when Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, was asked to resign after it became clear that he had misled Pence about the nature of his
transition-era conversations with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

Flynn wasn't the only one to run into trouble over his conversations with Kislyak, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any existing or future Department of Justice probes related
to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign because of questions that were raised about his alleged ties to Russian officials -- specifically Kislyak.

Sessions failed to disclose two interactions with Kislyak during his confirmation hearing when he said, "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have -- did
not have communications with the Russians."

On March 9, the White House did not deny that Trump himself met Kislyak briefly at a foreign policy forum during his presidential campaign, which comes in contrast to his earlier repeated denials
that he never had any contact with Russian officials during the campaign. The White House released a statement saying Trump and Kislyak’s interaction was limited to “a short reception” before Trump
spoke, and “any conversations with Mr. Trump in that setting were inherently brief and could not be private.”

A familiar face that did formally join the team was Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter whose husband Jared Kushner is already working in the West Wing as his unpaid senior adviser.

Ivanka Trump cited ethics concerns that were raised about her informal role -- during which she received security clearance, a government-issued communications device, and a White House office --
so she adopted the title of assistant to the president in order to compel her to follow government ethics rules, which she said she had already been doing voluntarily. She is not taking a salary
for the position.

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