Posts Tagged ‘District of Columbia’

House GOP health bill facing fresh House committee test

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The White House and Republican leaders are talking to rank-and-file lawmakers about revising the GOP health care overhaul, hoping to keep a rebellion by conservatives and moderates from snowballing and imperiling the party’s showpiece legislation.
Four days after a congressional report projected the bill would pry coverage from millions of voters, signs of fraying GOP support for the legislation were showing. The measure would strike down much of former President Barack Obama‘s 2010 overhaul and reduce the federal role, including financing, for health care consumers and is opposed uniformly by Democrats.
In a fresh test of Republicans’ willingness to embrace the legislation, the House Budget Committee was considering the measure Thursday. Republicans expressed confidence the bill would be approved, but the vote could be tight. The panel can’t make significant changes but was expected to endorse non-binding, suggested changes to nail down votes.
The bill would eliminate the tax penalty that pressures people to buy coverage and the federal subsidies that let millions afford it, replacing them with tax credits that are bigger for older people. It would cut Medicaid, repeal the law’s tax increases on higher earning Americans and require 30 percent higher premiums for consumers who let coverage lapse.
Overt GOP opposition grew after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected Monday that the legislation would push 24 million Americans off coverage in a decade and shift out-of-pocket costs toward lower income, older people. Obama’s law has provided coverage to around 20 million additional people
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Wednesday that leaders could now make “some necessary improvements and refinements” to the legislation. But he declined to commit to bringing the measure to the House floor next week, a schedule Republican leaders have repeatedly said they intended to keep.
At a late rally in Nashville Wednesday, President Donald Trump said: “We’re going

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Donald Trump looking to Sarah Huckabee Sanders in tough moments

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Faced with aggressive on-air questioning about the president’s wiretapping claims, Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t flinch, she went folksy.
Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” she pulled out a version of an old line from President Lyndon Johnson: “If the president walked across the Potomac, the media would be reporting that he could not swim.”
The 34-year-old spokeswoman for President Donald Trump was schooled in hardscrabble politics — and down-home rhetoric — from a young age by her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Her way with a zinger — and her unshakable loyalty to an often unpredictable boss — are big reasons why the deputy press secretary is a rising star in Trump’s orbit.
In recent weeks, Sanders has taken on a notably more prominent role in selling Trump’s agenda, including on television and at White House press briefings. As White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s public profile has fluctuated in recent weeks amid criticism of his performance, Sanders has increasingly become a chief defender of Trump in some of his toughest moments.
Sanders’ rise has fueled speculation that she’s becoming the president’s favored articulator, a notion she disputes. “It’s hard for any one person to maintain a schedule of being the singular face all day every day,” she said. She argued that more than one press aide spoke for President Barack Obama.
“When Eric Schultz went on TV did anybody say Josh Earnest is getting fired?” Sanders asked. “Was that story ever written?”
Spicer echoed that message: “My goal is to use other key folks in the administration and the White House to do the shows.”
Indeed, speaking on behalf of this president is a challenging and consuming job.
Trump often presents his own thoughts directly on Twitter in the early hours of the morning and is known to closely follow his surrogates on television,

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Donald Trump embraces legacy of Andrew Jackson

Monday, February 20th, 2017

It was an ugly, highly personal presidential election.
An unvarnished celebrity outsider who pledged to represent the forgotten laborer took on an intellectual member of the Washington establishment looking to extend a political dynasty in the White House.
Andrew Jackson‘s triumph in 1828 over President John Quincy Adams bears striking similarities to Donald Trump‘s victory over Hillary Clinton last year, and some of those most eager to point that out are in the Trump White House.
Trump’s team has seized upon the parallels between the current president and the long-dead Tennessee war hero. Trump has hung a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office and Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who has pushed the comparison, told reporters after Trump’s inaugural address that “I don’t think we’ve had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House.”
Trump himself mused during his first days in Washington that “there hasn’t been anything like this since Andrew Jackson.”
It’s a remarkable moment of rehabilitation for a figure whose populist credentials and anti-establishment streak has been tempered by harsher elements of his legacy, chiefly his forced removal of Native Americans that caused disease and the death of thousands.
“Both were elected presidents as a national celebrity; Jackson due to prowess on battlefield and Trump from making billions in his business empire,” said Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. “And it’s a conscious move for Trump to embrace Jackson. In American political lore, Jackson represents the forgotten rural America while Trump won by bringing out that rural vote and the blue collar vote.”
The seventh president, known as “Old Hickory” for his toughness on the battlefield, gained fame when he led American forces to a victory in the Battle of New Orleans in the final throes of the War of 1812. He did serve a term

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Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau to discuss women in workforce

Monday, February 13th, 2017

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will participate in a roundtable discussion about women in the workforce Monday, showing the rising policy influence of the first daughter who has stressed her commitment to issues like child care.
A White House official said the two countries would launch a new task force called the United States-Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs. The official said Trudeau’s office reached out to discuss working on a joint effort, noting that this was seen as an area of shared interest between both leaders.
Ivanka Trump, who has been a vocal advocate for policies benefiting working women, was involved in recruiting participants and setting the agenda for the meeting and will attend, the official said. Ivanka Trump stressed the importance of maternity leave and child care on the campaign trail, and has recently been meeting with business leaders to discuss those issues.
The White House official said that Trump’s economic agenda will include a “focus on ensuring women enter and stay in the work force and addressing barriers facing female entrepreneurs.” The official requested anonymity to provide details in advance of the meeting.
Advancing women has been a clear priority for Trudeau. In late 2015, he drew attention for naming a Cabinet that was 50 percent women, saying that he chose a group that “looks like Canada.” Trump did not promise to appoint a gender-balanced Cabinet and has named a smaller number of women and minorities to top jobs.
“Our team reached out and suggested as it is an important part of the prime minister’s agenda and of our economic growth plan,” a Canadian official said. “It seemed like a natural fit given their commitments in their platform as well.” The official requested anonymity to discuss the meeting in advance.
Trump has offered a childcare

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For Donald Trump, a solitary start to life in the White House

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Around 6:30 each evening, Secret Service agents gather in the dim hallways of the West Wing to escort Donald Trump home.
For some presidents, the short walk between the Oval Office and the White House residence upstairs is a lifeline to family and a semblance of normal life. Others have used the grand residence for late night entertaining and deal-making with lawmakers.
For Trump, life in the White House residence is so far a largely solitary existence. With his wife and youngest son living in New York, and his grown children busy with their young families, Trump’s first evenings have been spent largely alone, tethered to the outside world only by his phone and his television. The dramatic change of scenery has left the 70-year-old president, a known creature of habit, a little adrift in the evenings, according to one person who spoke with him recently.
Another regular contact described the president as still adjusting to this new digs and his somewhat more confined schedule. His advisers initially said they expected him to spend his evenings holding working dinners, like one scheduled Thursday with Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.
While Trump has marveled at the history and beauty of his new home, “it’s still government housing,” said Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a friend of the president’s.
A half-dozen other friends, advisers and associates of the president spoke about his first weeks in the White House on the condition of anonymity in order to detail private conversations.
The interviews underscore the relatively large circle of people who have spoken with the new president, despite the busy schedule and enormous pressures of the job. Trump has been spending his nights making and taking calls to an expanding network of old friends, lawmakers and others.
Calls often come in to Trump’s personal cellphone, which he fought staff and

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GOP pushes 2 top Cabinet picks through to full Senate

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Republicans jammed two of President Donald Trump‘s top Cabinet picks through the Senate Finance Committee with no Democrats in the room Wednesday after suspending a rule that would have otherwise barred them from taking the vote. The tactic seemed a warning shot that they might deploy brute political muscle in the upcoming fight over the Supreme Court vacancy.
With a near-toxic vapor of divisiveness between the two parties across Capitol Hill, nasty showdowns broke out elsewhere as well. One Senate panel signed off on Trump’s choice for attorney general only after senators exchanged heated words, and another committee postponed a vote on the would-be chief of the Environmental Protection Agency after Democrats refused to show up.
Busting through a Democratic boycott of the Finance panel, all 14 Republicans took advantage of Democrats’ absence to temporarily disable a committee rule requiring at least one Democrat to be present for votes.
They then used two 14-0 roll calls to approve financier Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to be health secretary, ignoring Democrats’ demands that the two nominees provide more information about their financial backgrounds.
All the nominations will need full Senate approval.
Underscoring Congress’ foul mood, Finance panel Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Democrats should be “ashamed” for staying away from his committee’s meeting.
“I don’t feel a bit sorry for them,” he told reporters, adding later, “I don’t care what they want at this point.”
Trump won one major victory, as the Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state. The mostly party-line 56-43 vote came with Democrats critical of Tillerson’s close ties to Russia as former Exxon Mobil CEO.
But the prospects that GOP donor Betsy DeVos would win approval as education secretary were jarred when two GOP senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, said they opposed her. Both

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White House press secretary: ‘Our intention is never to lie’

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a roomful of reporters that “our intention is never to lie to you,” although sometimes the Trump administration may “disagree with the facts.”
Spicer’s first full press briefing was closely watched Monday following a weekend statement about President Donald Trump‘s inauguration audience that included incorrect assertions. After White House counselor Kellyanne Conway received wide social media attention for her explanation that Spicer had presented “alternative facts,” Monday’s briefing was televised live on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and, for a time, even ABC.
Meanwhile, ABC announced that anchor David Muir would interview Trump for a one-hour prime-time special to air at 10 p.m. EST Wednesday.
Spicer tried to defuse tension by opening with a self-deprecating joke about his lack of popularity, and his 78-minute session was wide-ranging and mostly substantive. He corrected one disputed statement from Saturday, defended another and expressed some frustration regarding how the new Trump administration feels about its news coverage.
Asked for a pledge not to lie, Spicer assented, saying, “I believe we have to be honest with the American people.” He said he had received incorrect information about Inauguration day ridership on the Washington Metro system when he initially claimed the system was used more Friday than for Barack Obama‘s 2013 inauguration.
“There are times when you tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you were trying to deceive readers or the American people, does it? I think we should be afforded the same opportunity.”
Spicer didn’t back down from his claim that Trump’s inauguration was the most-seen ever, clarifying that he was including people who watched online. The ceremony didn’t have the highest TV ratings and aerial photographs indicate the live crowd wasn’t as big as it was for Obama’s first swearing-in, but

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Fact Check: Donald Trump overstates crowd size at inaugural

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

President Donald Trump‘s speech Saturday at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency turned into the latest battle in, as he put it, his “running war with the media.” He had two central complaints: that the media misrepresented the size of the crowd at his inauguration and that it was incorrectly reported a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. was removed from the Oval Office. A look at those assertions:
TRUMP: “I made a speech. I looked out. The field was — it looked like a million, a million and a half people.”
The president went on to say that one network “said we drew 250,000 people. Now that’s not bad. But it’s a lie.” He then claimed that were 250,000 right by the stage and the “rest of the, you know, 20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed.”
“So we caught them,” said Trump. “And we caught them in a beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.”
THE FACTS: Trump is wrong. Photos of the National Mall from his inauguration make clear that the crowd did not extend to the Washington Monument. Large swaths of empty space are visible on the Mall.
Thin crowds and partially empty bleachers also dotted the inaugural parade route. Hotels across the District of Columbia reported vacancies, a rarity for an event as large as a presidential inauguration.
And ridership on the Washington’s Metro system didn’t match that of recent inaugurations.
As of 11 a.m. that day, there were 193,000 trips taken, according to the transit service’s Twitter account. At the same hour eight years ago, there had been 513,000 trips. Four years later, there were 317,000 for Obama‘s second inauguration. There were 197,000 at 11 a.m. in 2005 for President George W. Bush‘s second inauguration.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer later

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Promises, pomp and protests as Donald Trump sworn in

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Pledging to empower America’s “forgotten men and women,” Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking command of a deeply divided nation and ushering in an unpredictable era in Washington. His victory gives Republicans control of the White House for the first time in eight years.
Looking out over the crowd sprawled across the National Mall, Trump painted a bleak picture of the nation he now leads, lamenting “American carnage,” shuttered factories and depleted U.S. leadership. President Barack Obama, the man he replaced, sat behind him stoically.
Trump’s address lasted just 16 minutes. While his inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.
Demonstrations unfolded at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through. After the swearing-in, more protesters registered their rage in the streets of Washington. Police in riot gear deployed pepper spray and made numerous arrests after protesters smashed the windows of downtown businesses, denouncing capitalism and Trump.
The new president’s first words as commander in chief were an unapologetic reprisal of the economic populism and nationalism that fueled his improbable campaign. He vowed to stir “new national pride,” bring jobs back to the United States, and “eradicate completely” Islamic terrorism.
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only, ‘America First,’” Trump said.
His address lasted just 16 minutes. While Trump’s inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.
In a remarkable scene, Trump ripped into Washington’s longtime leaders as he stood among them at the U.S. Capitol. For too long, he said, “a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”
For Republicans eager to

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First day goal? Make White House feel like home for Donald Trump

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

It’s supposed to feel just like home when Donald Trump steps inside the White House residence for the first time as president on Inauguration Day.
His clothes will be hanging in the closet. The kitchen will be stocked with his favorite foods. Windows will have been washed, carpets vacuumed or replaced, and fresh linens and towels will be in all the bedrooms and baths. No packed or half-empty boxes will be lying around either, unlike a typical home move.
Trump and his wife, Melania, can thank the nearly 100 butlers, maids, plumbers, electricians and other staffers who maintain the private living areas of the White House. The crew will have just the hours between Trump’s swearing-in and the end of the inaugural parade to remove all traces of President Barack Obama and his family and make the Trumps feel at home.
“I’ve called it, for years, organized chaos,” says Gary Walters, a former White House chief usher who oversaw the move in-move out process for four presidents.
The “chaos” breaks out moments after the outgoing president and the president-elect depart the White House for the oath-taking ceremony at the Capitol. However, the process itself starts after the November election when the White House chief usher reaches out to the incoming president’s team to begin coordinating the new First Family’s big move.
Melania Trump toured the living quarters in November when she accompanied her husband to the White House for his postelection meeting with Obama.
Trump, the businessman and reality TV star, now lives primarily at his three-story penthouse at Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue, and may continue to spend considerable time there because his wife and their 10-year-old son, Barron, plan to remain in New York until the school year ends.
The Obamas started packing up their belongings weeks ago. Crates and boxes lined hallways

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Chief of staff Reince Priebus? Some Donald Trump loyalists still dubious

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

When President-elect Donald Trump tapped Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, Republican leaders cheered the prospect of a close ally having a top White House job.
But as Priebus tries to wield his influence and bring more structure to the president-elect’s freewheeling political organization, he’s frustrating some longtime Trump allies who see him as too conventional a pick for an unconventional president. Others fear being left behind as Priebus fills out West Wing jobs.
The dismay over Priebus stems in part from a belief among some Trump loyalists that the outgoing Republican National Committee chairman expected Trump to lose the election. They resent the president-elect “rewarding people who thought he wasn’t going to win,” according to one top adviser.
Still, Priebus appears to have Trump’s trust. He’s been given wide authority to name senior White House staff, according to people involved in the transition, and in shaping the decision on who will succeed him at the RNC, though deliberations over that post continue.
“Reince Priebus has done an outstanding job,” Trump said in a statement to The Associated Press. “All you have to do is look at all of the Republican victories and one in particular.”
If Trump runs his White House like past presidents — and that’s hardly a sure thing — Priebus, 44, could hold enormous sway over what issues reach the Oval Office. Chiefs of staff also typically control who has access to the president — no easy task given Trump’s penchant for consulting a wide network of associates before making key decisions.
Priebus, a Wisconsin native and father of two young children, comes to the White House with no significant experience in foreign and domestic policy. He has close ties with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP congressional leaders. And he’s seen by those who have worked with him previously

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Donald Trump bucks protocol on press access

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday refused to let a group of journalists travel with him to cover his historic first meeting with President Barack Obama, breaking a long-standing practice intended to ensure the public has a watchful eye on the nation’s leader.
Trump flew from New York to Washington on his private jet without that “pool” of reporters, photographers and television cameras that have traveled with presidents and presidents-elect.
Trump’s flouting of press access was one of his first public decisions since his election Tuesday.
Trump’s meeting with Obama on Thursday will be recorded by the pool of White House reporters, photographers and TV cameras who cover the president.
News organizations had for weeks tried to coordinate a pool of journalists who could begin to travel with Trump immediately after Election Day if he won election. But his campaign did not cooperate with those requests and his senior advisers refused Wednesday, the day after the election, to discuss any such press arrangements.
Trump also broke from tradition as a candidate, refusing to allow a pool of campaign reporters, photographers or cameras to fly on his plane as he traveled to events.
Every president in recent memory has traveled with a pool of journalists when they leave the White House grounds. A pool of reporters and photographers were in the motorcade when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas.
The pool was just steps away from President Ronald Reagan when he was shot outside a hotel in the District of Columbia, and was stationed outside his hospital room as he recovered. The pool also travels on vacation and foreign trips and at times captures personal, historic moments of the presidency.
News organizations take turns serving in the small group, paying their way and sharing the material collected in the pool with the larger press corps. The

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