Top News Stories for Today – March 27, 2017
After health care dead, Trump and GOP turn to taxes
This week, the Trump White House and Republican-led Congress plan to dust themselves off from a bruising self-defeat on a GOP health-care bill and begin work on reforming the tax code, something that hasn’t been done in about 30 years. The failure of the health-care plan will likely curb the ambition of the tax overhaul, for both political and logistical-legislative reasons, but Republican deficit hawks in the Freedom Caucus have expressed flexibility in accepting tax cuts that are not offset by spending cuts or some rise in revenue.
Before they embark on tax reform, however, Republicans have to pass a new spending bill, or risk a government shutdown. The big political fight is expected to be the insistence by House conservatives to include defunding Planned Parenthood in the spending bill, a nonstarter in the Senate. The current government spending resolution expires April 28. The New York Times, Axios, The Week,
US condemns crackdown on Russian protests
Russians turned out on Sunday for anti-corruption demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and about 100 other cities throughout Russia, in the biggest show of force since a wave of anti-government demonstrations in 2011 and 2012. Anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, who called for the protests, was one of the 500-800 people arrested in Moscow alone. Russian state media largely ignored the protests, but the US State Department did not.
“The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance, equal treatment under the law, and the ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Sunday evening. The department also tweeted that it “condemns detention of 100s of peaceful protesters” in Russia, calling it “an affront to democratic values.” The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Week
South Korean push to arrest former president
South Korean prosecutors said Monday that they want to arrest former President Park Geun-hye over the corruption allegations that triggered a huge political scandal and toppled her from power.The move comes after prosecutors grilled Park for 14 hours last week over suspicions that she colluded with a jailed confidante to extort from companies and committed other wrongdoing when she was in office.
The Seoul prosecutors’ office said in a statement that it asked a local court to issue an arrest warrant for Park. The Seoul Central District Court said it would hold a hearing Thursday to decide on the prosecutors’ request. Associated Press
Trump launching new innovation office
On Monday, President Trump is unveiling a new office, headed by senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, that will attempt to draw on the business world to revamp the federal bureaucracy, potentially by privatizing some government roles.
The White House Office of American Innovation has been meeting informally twice a week and reaching out to top business leaders since shortly after Trump’s inauguration, and Kushner’s list of targets is ambitious: Overhauling the Veterans Affairs Department, modernizing the IT infrastructure of every federal agency, transforming workforce training programs, and tackling America’s heroin and opioid problem. “We should have excellence in government,” Kushner, 36, told The Washington Post. “The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.” The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Week
US still considering moving embassy to Jerusalem
Speaking to thousands of pro-Israel activists, Vice President Mike Pence said the United States is still considering moving the US Embassy in Israel — an action expected to be met with strong opposition in the Arab world. “After decades of simply talking about it, the President of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence told the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday.
The pro-Israel lobby, popularly known as AIPAC, is holding the event in Washington. The embassy promise was a mainstay of President Trump’s campaign speeches, but Trump administration backed off making the move immediately after taking office. CNN
House Freedom Caucus member resigns over health care
Rep. Ted Poe announced Sunday he has resigned from the conservative House Freedom Caucus over its opposition to the Republican health care plan, becoming the group’s first public casualty in the fall-out over its role in defeating the bill.
“In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions to move this country forward,” the Texas Republican said in a statement. “Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas. It is time to lead.” CNN
Trump notches his 13th golf course visit
President Donald Trump headed to one of his golf courses again Sunday, marking his 13th visit to one since taking office and the eighth consecutive weekend he has spent at properties bearing his name. While the President hasn’t played golf on every visit, sometimes attending to presidential business, the trips underscore a break with his insistence on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t spend his time golfing because of how hard he would be working.
White House officials would not provide details about what Trump did at the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, over the weekend. Both Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, have knocked former President Barack Obama for his time playing golf on the job. CNN
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