Top News Stories for Today – March 13, 2017
GOP brace for CBO report on healthcare proposal
Aides to President Trump on Sunday questioned the credibility of the Congressional Budget Office as Republicans braced for the nonpartisan agency to issue a report concluding that the House Republican plan to replace ObamaCare will leave fewer Americans with health insurance. The CBO is expected to issue its estimate of the cost and other implications of the proposed legislation as soon as Monday, but White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said the CBO should focus on health care affordability rather than the number of insured.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday that he fully expects the CBO analysis to say the ranks of the uninsured would grow under the proposal, which would eliminate the requirement to buy insurance. His statement contradicted Trump’s promise to replace ObamaCare with a plan offering “insurance for everybody.” The Associated Press, Reuters, The Week
House tells Trump to prove wiretapping claim
A week after President Trump accused his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, of tapping his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign, then asked Congress to investigate, Congress appears to be getting a bit impatient with the lack of evidence. The heads of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), sent the Justice Department a letter last week giving the Trump administration until Monday to turn over any evidence it has to support the explosive claim, congressional aides told The Associated Press and NBC News over the weekend.
Sen. John McCain made a similar demand on CNN Sunday. “The president has one of two choices: Either retract, or provide the information that the American people deserve,” he said. “All he has to do is pick up the phone, call the director of the CIA, director of national intelligence, and say, ‘Okay, what happened?'” The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Week
Scottish to seek second referendum for independence
Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish first minister has confirmed she will ask for permission to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. Ms Sturgeon said she wanted a vote to be held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of the following year. She said the move was needed to protect Scottish interests in the wake of the UK voting to leave the EU, and she would ask the Scottish Parliament next week to request a Section 30 order from Westminster.
The order would be needed to allow a fresh legally-binding referendum on independence to be held. Speaking at her official Bute House residence in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said the people of Scotland must be offered a choice between a “hard Brexit” and becoming an independent country. The Scottish government has published proposals which it says would allow Scotland to remain a member of the European single market even if the rest of the UK leaves, which Prime Minister Theresa May has said it will. BBC
Fired US attorney suggests he was investigating Trump
A day after President Trump fired Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara tweeted, “By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like,” a reference to a commission New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) set up to investigate political corruption then dissolved less than a year later after it reportedly targeted people close to Cuomo.
Bharara is one of the 46 Obama-era US attorneys asked to resign by President Trump’s attorney general on Friday, even though Trump had asked Bharara to stay on in November. Bharara, probably the most prominent US prosecutor, had successfully prosecuted high-profile terrorism, Wall Street insider trading, and New York state corruption cases, though he was also reportedly investigating Fox News and Trump’s ties to Russia. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal
EU leaders criticize Turkey over accusations of ‘Nazism, Fascism’
Leaders of European Union countries have criticized Turkey, while the dispute over the Turkish government’s attempts to hold rallies in European countries has been growing since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany and the Netherlands of “Nazism” and “fascism” because officials blocked rallies there.
Erdogan warned the Netherlands Sunday it would “pay a price” for refusing to allow Ankara’s foreign minister into the country and expelling another minister to keep them from holding rallies with Turkish immigrants. Ankara wants to drum up support among millions of Turks who live and work in Europe to vote to give Erdogan more powers, which could lead to him remaining in office until 2029. VOA
Massive oil discovery in Alaska
Some 1.2 billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Alaska, marking the biggest onshore discovery in the US in three decades. Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) and its privately-held US partner Armstrong Energy announced the find on Thursday, predicting production could begin as soon as 2021 and lead to as much as 120,000 barrels of output per day.
All of this is a big win for Alaska, which last year had to freeze hiring and limit state employee travel due to trouble in the oil industry. Alaska, which relies on oil and gas taxes for the vast majority of its state revenue, has been hit by the shrinking production from its mature fields and the fact that oil prices have been cut in half in recent years. Things have gotten so bad that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is barely being used these days. CNN
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