Top News Stories for Today – July 23, 2017
US lawmakers to vote Russia sanction on Tuesday
A bipartisan group of U.S. congressional leaders have reached agreement on new sanctions for Russia, in response to its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as a provision that would prevent President Donald Trump from trying to relax sanctions against Moscow.
The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a package that includes sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. The legislation will be considered under an expedited process that requires a two-thirds majority for passage, meaning it will pass with a veto-proof majority. Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, said, the bill “will hold Russia and Iran accountable for their destabilizing actions around the world.” Under the proposed bill, Trump would be required to submit to Congress a report explaining his reasons for easing or ending sanctions, such as returning diplomatic properties in Maryland and New York that former President Barack Obama ordered vacated in December. VOA
GOP health care bill run into another problem
Senate Republicans have run into another problem in passing their ObamaCare replacement bill: it could increase deductibles by thousands of dollars, potentially alienating moderates who are already skeptical of the bill. An analysis released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that a single policyholder purchasing a standard benchmark plan under the GOP bill could face a deductible of $13,000 in 2026.
Under current law, an individual making $56,800 would have a deductible of $5,000, while someone making $26,500 would have an $800 deductible. Deductibles could become so high under the GOP plan, the CBO said, that many low-income people might decide not to purchase a health insurance plan, even if the premiums were low. The Hill
Trump renews call for Clinton investigation
President Trump was up and tweeting early Saturday, offering his thoughts on a range of topics centrally including his desire to see Hillary Clinton under federal investigation instead of his own team. Trump began by objecting to The Washington Post’s Friday night report that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did discuss campaign matters with the Russian ambassador last year, contrary to Sessions’ account.
After a detour to discuss his plans for the day and blame The New York Times for Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi still being alive, Trump got back to the subject of investigations. “So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?” he wrote. Donald J. Trump, The Hill , The Week
Trump Jr. makes deal for private Senate testimony
Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort have reached an agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify behind closed doors about their 2016 meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The committee’s leadership threatened the pair with subpoenas if they did not testify voluntarily for the Senate investigation of Russian election meddling running in parallel with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was also at the meeting, will testify before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees for their Russia inquiries this coming week. ABC News, Fox News, The Week
Minneapolis police chief resigns
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau resigned from her post Friday at the request of the city’s mayor, Betsy Hodges. The Minneapolis Police Department has come under heavy criticism after an officer fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman, Justine Damond, who called 911 to report a suspected crime near her home.
Though the officers involved were wearing body cameras, they were turned off at the time of Damond’s death. Hodges said in a statement it is “clear [Harteau] has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis” after multiple high-profile cases of police violence in Minnesota’s Twin Cities since 2015. Star Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Week
Apollo 11 bag with moon dust sells for $1.8 million
A bag containing traces of moon dust sold for $1.8 million at an auction Thursday following a galactic court battle. The collection bag, used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction of items related to space voyages. The buyer declined to be identified. The pre-sale estimate was $2 million to $4 million.
The artifact from the Apollo 11 mission had been misidentified and sold at an online government auction, and NASA had fought to get it back. But in December, a federal judge ruled that it legally belonged to a Chicago-area woman who bought it in 2015 for $995. Sotheby’s declined to identify the seller. However, details of the 2015 purchase were made public during the court case. VOA
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