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The Latest National News

    A Montana congressman misled investigators about his assault on a reporter the day before he was elected in May, claiming that “liberal media” were “trying to make a story,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Saturday, citing audio and documents. >> Read more trending news U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, told an officer in an audio interview after the attack that reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian newspaper had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled both of them to the floor. Audio of Gianforte’s interview with Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Secor was released along with documents requested by the Chronicle and other news organizations after Gianforte was cited for assaulting Jacobs on May 24. Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.  The Chronicle requested the documents in June. After Gianforte, Jacobs and Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert did not object to the release, Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown ruled this week that the documents could be released. \The audio of the interview with Gianforte comes from a recording made by Sgt. Scott Secor outside of Gianforte’s headquarters shortly after the 5:07 p.m. call Jacobs made to 911, a minute after he posted on Twitter, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.” Once at the scene, Secor spoke with Jacobs first. “This is the weirdest day,” Jacobs told Secor.  The documents include interviews with members of a Fox News crew who were in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs at the politician’s Bozeman campaign office.  Gianforte told Secor that he was preparing for an interview with Fox News when “this man broke into a private room in the back and stuck a microphone in my face and started asking me obnoxious questions.” Gianforte said he tried to explain to him that he was in the middle of an interview, but that Jacobs kept “waving” the microphone in his face, the Chronicle reported. “I probably shouldn’t do it but I reached out for his phone ... he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor ... so he pulled me down on top of him,” Secor quoted Gianforte as saying. After the incident Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, issued a statement that also blamed the attack on Jacobs, saying the reporter had grabbed the candidate’s wrist.  Gianforte publicly apologized to Jacobs and told supporters he wasn’t proud of his actions. His spokesman, Travis Hall, insisted on Friday that the documents contained “nothing new.” “No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,” Hall said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
  • Thousands of Zimbabwe residents marched in the streets of Harare on Saturday, demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, CNN reported. >> Read more trending news The protests in the capital city occurred days after the 93-year-old president was put under house arrest by the army, which also detained some of his key political allies. Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s president since 1987. People waved Zimbabwean flags while others ran beside army tanks and hugged soldiers to show their gratitude, CNN reported. “The whole nation is celebrating today. We are finally getting rid of the old man,,” said Tanashe, a Harare resident who declined to provide a second name. But Mugabe was still refusing to step down Saturday, CNN reported. He was meeting Saturday with army chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga to discuss what happens next. Chiwenga is pushing for Mugabe to step down and for an interim president to take over, CNN reported.
  • Tennis icon Serena Williams married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in New Orleans Thursday, and gave the first official photos to Vogue magazine to share. The ceremony was in front of 200 guests made up of family and friends -- Venus Williams, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian Anna Wintour, Ciara and the newlyweds’ 2-month-old daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. among them.  >> Read more trending news Williams detailed her big day for Vogue in a story published Friday. “Alexis really wanted to do New Orleans. It’s his favorite city besides Brooklyn,” Williams said. “It’s got a heavy European influence; it’s fun and has amazing food. He just loves the vibe. The venue—the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans—was a decision we both made. Painting and art is something I’m really passionate about, so it just felt natural and different to do it at a contemporary art museum.” The wedding date  -- Nov. 16 -- held special importance for both as it was Ohanian’s late mother’s birthday. “Obviously, we wish that she could be here for this, but choosing her birthday as our wedding date was a nice way of making sure she’s still involved and made us feel more connected to her on our day,” Williams told Vogue. The “Beauty and the Beast” themed wedding included a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen ball gown that Williams walked down the aisle in. The venue was designed similar to a fashion show. “I wanted the whole thing to be as nontraditional as possible,” Williams said. “We did sofas instead of chairs, with everything facing the aisle instead of the altar.” Baby Alexis was carried down the aisle by Williams’ mother, Oracene Price, and Williams’ best friend, Val Vogt, carried the athletes Yorkshire terrier, Chip, down the aisle. The dog, which Williams has referred to as her son, wore a tiny tuxedo and top hat. The two exchanged personally written vows to each other before changing outfits for the reception. In between the ceremony and reception, guests were at a cocktail hour outside. A second line parade brought guests back inside, where guests dined on Southern, Armenian and Italian food at four long tables named after Williams’ Grand Slam wins. “Serena wanted a ball, but she wanted a modern ball, not anything that was too stuffy,” event designer Preston Bailey said of the reception. Williams changed into a custom feathered and beaded Versace dress after the couple was introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Alexis Ohanian. The newlyweds did a choreographed first dance and later in the evening danced on stage as New Edition performed. Early Friday morning, the event ended with a surprise: Ohanian brought out a carousel for his new bride. Read more about Williams and Ohanian’s wedding at Vogue.com.
  • Update (Friday, November 17) President Donald Trump said in a tweet Friday he’s delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review “all conservation facts.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The agency said encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs. Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. On Friday, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the “wrong move at the wrong time.” Trump said that the policy had been “under study for years.” He says he will review the issue with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Earlier The Trump administration plans to lift a ban on Friday that barred big game hunters from bringing trophies from elephants killed in a pair of African nations to America, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told ABC News in a statement Wednesday that the decision was made after officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia provided them with information to support a reversal of the ban. 'Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,' the spokesperson told ABC News. The decision will overturn a 2014 ban implemented by President Barack Obama’s administration in response to falling elephant populations.  African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A provision in the act, however, allows for the government to give permits that let people import trophies from such animals if evidence shows that hunting them helps conservation efforts, according to NBC News. The rule reversal will apply to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe from Jan. 21, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2018, the news station reported. It will also apply to elephants killed in Zambia in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and “applications that meet all other applicable permitting requirements,” a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told NBC News. According to the 2016 Great Elephant Census, Savanna elephant populations fell by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014. About 352,000 elephants were spotted during the survey, 82,300 in Zimbabwe and 21,700 in Zambia. Both countries had areas that saw substantial declines in elephant populations along the Zambezi river in Zambia and in Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe region, according to the census. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A food server at a Pittsburgh hospital is accused of exposing himself in front of a patient.  Police said Michael Booker, 37, a dietary server at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy, approached the female patient at the walking bridge that joins the parking garage and the hospital.  >> Read more trending news WPXI reported that the woman told investigators Booker approached her, said something vulgar and started fondling himself.  Booker is facing charges that include open lewdness. Officials said he has since been terminated from his position as a server.  Booker faces a preliminary hearing next month.
  • A New Jersey man was stabbed to death in his home Tuesday night when he tried to defend his 8-year-old son from a group of teens trying to steal the boy’s sneakers, according to family. Jose “Migue” Malave, 30, of Jersey City, was stabbed around 7 p.m. at his home, according to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. He was pronounced dead about 25 minutes later at the scene.  A 17-year-old boy was arrested at the scene and charged as a juvenile, prosecutors said. The unidentified teen is charged with murder, felony murder, armed burglary, conspiracy and multiple weapons charges.  A second suspect, Nasiar Day, 19, of Newark, was taken into custody Thursday, NJ.com reported. Day is also charged with murder, felony murder, armed burglary, weapons charges and conspiracy.  NJ.com reported that Malave died in front of his girlfriend and four of his 11 children. Malave had just returned home to drop off his son before heading to his construction job.  Responding police officers found him lying in a “lifeless state” in the doorway of the family’s apartment, prosecutors said.  Malave’s 8-year-old son had reportedly been targeted earlier in the day by a group of teens who tried to steal his sneakers. The teens later went to the boy’s home because they assumed he had other nice belongings, Jose Malave’s sister, Yesenia Malave, told NJ.com. >> Read more trending news Yesenia Malave described her brother as a man who always tried to brighten people’s days. “He was always outgoing, always happy, always trying to help people,” she said. “You could be down and he was the one who could bring your life up.” In a Facebook post on Thursday, the grieving sister said she could not adequately express her grief.  “I wish I would have one more day with my little brother to tell him I love him,” Yesenia Malave wrote. “I miss his 3 a.m. call; (who’s) going to call me now?” Friends and family members have established crowdfunding pages to help the Malave family with funeral arrangements and to help financially support Jose Malave’s children. Petitions have also been established to urge prosecutors to charge both suspects as adults in the slaying.
  • If you're looking for a shooting star so you can make your wish come true, this weekend may just be your lucky opportunity. The Leonid meteor shower will peak this weekend, providing ideal viewing conditions for millions across the United States. With clear skies predicted by meteorologists in many parts of the country, even amateur stargazers should be able to catch a glimpse of the cosmic spectacle. >> Read more trending news Experts say 10 to 25 shooting stars will be visible per hour in areas with clear skies this Friday evening and Saturday morning, according to the Smithsonian. Even for the unlucky, such a high number gives anyone decent odds of sighting one of the meteors. For those hoping to view the shower this weekend, here's everything you need to know: What is the Leonid meteor shower? The Leonid meteors are connected to the comet Tempel-Tuttle, according to David Samuhel, senior meteorologist and astronomy blogger at AccuWeather. 'It makes fairly frequent passes through the inner solar system,' he said. 'This lays out fresh debris in the path of the Earth's orbit every 33 years.' The Earth actually passes through the debris of the comet, making the falling particles visible as they burn up in the atmosphere. Thanks to clear skies and the absence of moonlight, this year's display should give stargazers a decent show. Where will the meteor shower be most visible? First of all, stargazers should get as far away from city lights as possible to avoid light pollution. There's no specific spot in the sky to look. But the shooting stars get their name from the Leo constellation, as their paths in the sky can be traced back to those stars. Peak time for viewing is from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. ET Saturday. People living throughout the Southeast, the Northern Plains and California are in luck, as meteorologists are predicting clear skies, ideal for viewing the shower. Those who reside in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, the central Plains or the Pacific Northwest, however, may have to travel to other areas if they want to spot a falling star. 'A large storm system will be moving from the Plains into the Great Lakes, and cloudy skies are forecast to dominate much of the eastern half of the nation,' meteorologist Kyle Elliot said, according to Accuweather. 'Rain and thunderstorms will put an even bigger damper on viewing conditions in many of these areas.' The shower will actually be most visible, with the highest rates of visible meteors, in East Asia. How intense can a Leonid shower get? While this weekend's display is sure to impress, it's actually considered a light meteor shower, as opposed to a meteor storm. The last Leonid meteor storm took place in 2002. During storms, thousands of meteors can be spotted in an hour. In 1833, stargazers reported as many as 72,000 shooting stars per hour, according to National Geographic. In 1966, a group of hunters reported seeing 40 to 50 streaks per second over the duration of 15 minutes. Scientists currently predict the next major outburst won't take place until 2099. But calculations suggest the comet will be returning closer to Earth in 2031 and 2064, meaning more intense storms may be seen sooner. Smaller showers, such as the one occurring this weekend, happen on a regular basis. So, while you may get another shot at seeing Leonid's shooting stars, this weekend promises to be a great chance for many.
  • Snow? Check. Breathtaking mountain views? Check. Historical city charm and Instagram-worthy photo ops? Check and check.  Bern, Switzerland, is the city with the most Instagram posts in the world for the winter season — and it truly has it all. >> Read more trending news That’s according to analysts at Focus Clinic, a popular laser eye surgery clinic in the United Kingdom, who gathered the 20 most popular winter travel destinations across the world based on Google search and ranked each by the number of times a city’s hashtag was used on Instagram to determine its popularity on the photo-sharing app. According to the research, the #bern hashtag has been used more than 1,082,440 times. A popular destination in the Swiss city is the medieval Old City of Bern, a city center surrounded by the Aare river. Old City is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of Europe’s longest weather-sheltered shopping centers. The “gateway to the Alps” is also known for its mountain views, many fountains, walkable streets, cafes, museums and colorful weekly markets, according to MySwitzerland.com. Rounding out the top 10 winter destinations according to Instagram are: Aspen, Colorado; the Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway; Chamonix, France; Yosemite National Park in California; Zermatt, Switzerland; Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming; Bled, Slovenia; Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic and Grindelwald, Switzerland. >> Explore the full list at focusclinics.com/most-popular-winter-sights Take a look at some of our favorite Instagram shots of Bern:
  • An Ohio Supreme Court justice has taken to Facebook to share details about his past sexual relationships and his thoughts on Senator Al Franken being accused of forcibly touching and grabbing a woman in 2006.  >> Read more trending news  Justice William (Bill) O’Neill, who has expressed interest in running for Ohio governor, posted on Facebook Friday afternoon stating: “Now that the dogs of war are calling for the head of Senator Al Franken I believe it is time to speak up on behalf of all heterosexual males.” WHIO’s Jim Otte reached O’Neill by phone, to ask if his Facebook account had been hacked. 'I did post it and I stand by it,' O'Neill told Otte by phone. Franken, D-Minnesota, on Thursday called for an ethics investigation of himself after a Los Angeles news anchor came forward with allegations that he kissed her forcibly and groped her as she slept during a USO tour in 2006. O’Neill continues on the Facebook post to describe the “approximately 50 very attractive females” he’s had sex with in the last 50 years. “Now can we get back to discussing legalizing marijuana and opening the state hospital network to combat the opioid crisis. I am sooooo (sic) disappointed by this national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago,” O’Neill said in his post. Signing off with a “Peace.” RELATED: Ohio Chief Justice issues warning to Justice O’Neill after he announces run for governor Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat who is also running for governor, called for O’Neill to resign from the court.  “Sexual harassment, degrading and devaluing women is not a joke. Justice O’Neill should resign,” Whaley tweeted at 1:02 p.m. O’Neill’s spokesperson has since stepped down from his position as the public voice of the judge for his campaign, according to WCPO. Related video:
  • Update 2:27 p.m. EDT Nov. 17: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston on Friday denied that he groped a female Uber driver in 2016, saying in a statement that he believes “the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.” “The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately.” BuzzFeed News reported Friday that the NFL is investigating the alleged incident, which happened in Scottsdale, Arizona. The driver, who was not identified, told BuzzFeed that Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch” as they were waiting for food in the drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant. “I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false,” Winston said. “While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way.” In response to the incident, Uber barred Winston from using the service. Original report:The NFL is investigating an allegation that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston groped a female Uber driver in 2016, BuzzFeed News reported Friday. >> Read more trending news Lisa Friel, a member of the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, sent a letter to the female Uber driver on Thursday confirming that the NFL is looking into the matter, according to the report. The female Uber driver told BuzzFeed News that she picked up Winston in the early hours of the morning on March 13 in Scottsdale, Arizona. She said that Winston “behaved poorly” immediately when he entered her vehicle. Later in the drive, when they waited for food at a Mexican restaurant drive-thru, Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” the woman told BuzzFeed. Soon after the ride, the driver filed a formal complaint with the company, writing that “apparently a big athlete in the NFL” reached over “and put his fingers on my crotch.” “It wasn’t my stomach or thigh, it was my crotch and I want to be clear about that,” she added in the complaint. “He is NOT safe for other drivers.” Uber banned Winston from using the service in the future, according to BuzzFeed. “The behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong,” an Uber spokesperson said Friday in a statement. “The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident.” Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, issued a statement denying the allegations, saying the Uber driver “was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver inappropriately. The only reason his name is being dragged in to this is that his Uber account was used to call the ride.” While at Florida State, Winston was accused of raping a female student. The alleged assault, which occurred in 2012, was not made public until 2013 amid the controversy of a cover-up by the school and Tallahassee police. The woman in the case, Erica Kinsman, sued the University. In 2016, she and Florida State reached a settlement that would pay her $950,000. Winston is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • An Orlando Police department officer is in the hospital after crashing their pickup truck into a toll booth on State Road 408 Saturday morning.   The truck crashed into a collapsible safety barrier at the toll plaza on the East/West Expressway eastbound near Andes Avenue.    The truck catapulted into the guardrail and caught fire, prompting the officer to flee from the scene. Police are investigating this as a hit and run.    The pay lanes were closed and traffic was diverted into the E-pass lanes. Tolls were waived by the Expressway Authority while the scene was being cleared. All lanes are now open.    Police have not released the name of the officer driving the vehicle, but were able to locate him and took him to the hospital for his injuries. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.    The officer involved in the crash has been relieved of duty and an internal investigation is underway.    The identity of the officer, as well as whether or not they will face charges has not yet been released.
  • A Montana congressman misled investigators about his assault on a reporter the day before he was elected in May, claiming that “liberal media” were “trying to make a story,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Saturday, citing audio and documents. >> Read more trending news U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, told an officer in an audio interview after the attack that reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian newspaper had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled both of them to the floor. Audio of Gianforte’s interview with Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Secor was released along with documents requested by the Chronicle and other news organizations after Gianforte was cited for assaulting Jacobs on May 24. Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.  The Chronicle requested the documents in June. After Gianforte, Jacobs and Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert did not object to the release, Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown ruled this week that the documents could be released. \The audio of the interview with Gianforte comes from a recording made by Sgt. Scott Secor outside of Gianforte’s headquarters shortly after the 5:07 p.m. call Jacobs made to 911, a minute after he posted on Twitter, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.” Once at the scene, Secor spoke with Jacobs first. “This is the weirdest day,” Jacobs told Secor.  The documents include interviews with members of a Fox News crew who were in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs at the politician’s Bozeman campaign office.  Gianforte told Secor that he was preparing for an interview with Fox News when “this man broke into a private room in the back and stuck a microphone in my face and started asking me obnoxious questions.” Gianforte said he tried to explain to him that he was in the middle of an interview, but that Jacobs kept “waving” the microphone in his face, the Chronicle reported. “I probably shouldn’t do it but I reached out for his phone ... he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor ... so he pulled me down on top of him,” Secor quoted Gianforte as saying. After the incident Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, issued a statement that also blamed the attack on Jacobs, saying the reporter had grabbed the candidate’s wrist.  Gianforte publicly apologized to Jacobs and told supporters he wasn’t proud of his actions. His spokesman, Travis Hall, insisted on Friday that the documents contained “nothing new.” “No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,” Hall said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
  • Two men are recovering in the hospital after a shooting incident took place in Pine Hills.   Around 1 a.m., deputies responded to 4919 West Colonial Drive for a possible shooting.  When they arrived at the scene, they located a 40 year old man with a gunshot wound. The other victim, a 39 year old male was found nearby with an injury to his hand. His 29 year old girlfriend was found with him as well.    Both men were transported to the hospital with non life threatening injuries and remain in stable condition. The victim's girlfriend is considered a suspect by investigators and was taken into custody.    It is not yet known how the man's hand was injured or if the woman would face charges.
  • District 4 Orlando City Commissioner, Patty Sheehan, Veterinarian Geoffrey Gardner and specially trained volunteers showed up to participate in the City of Orlando's 10th Annual Lake Eola Swan Round-Up.   The round up began at 7:00 a.m. where trained volunteers arrived on foot and took to their kayaks in the water to safely corral the famous Lake Eola swans to the west end of the park. From there, the volunteers brought the swans to a temporary clinic where they would be weighed, inoculated, and checked by the Veterinarian. The swans would also be given a a name and fitted with a microchip, along with having their wings clipped. They would then be released back into the lake and free to go about their business. Each swan has its own health record that will continue to be updated.    Lake Eola is home to over 50 swans from over five different breeds including Trumpeter swans, Black Neck Swans, Whooper swans, Royal Mute swans and Australian black swans.    The quarters that are collected from swan food feeders around the lake also help to generate annual income each year to help insure that these swans receive proper medical care.
  • As the House voted along party lines on Thursday to approve a sweeping package of GOP tax reforms, one peculiar part of the floor debate came when a number of Republicans – who voted for the bill – took to the floor to request changes in the their party’s plan, as some highlighted unintended consequences, while others objected to the basics of the measure. Known in parliamentary parlance as a “colloquy,” the scripted exchanges between lawmakers are often done to clarify the legislative intent of a bill, or in this case, to urge action in a specific way in House-Senate negotiations. And for some Republicans in this week’s tax reform debate, it was clear they wanted some provisions altered. Some requests were specific, like Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), who made the case for historic preservation tax credits, which were eradicated by the House GOP tax reform bill. “Without the credit, projects that transform communities in all 50 states, from West Virginia to Texas, to Wisconsin, simply will not happen,” McKinley said on the House floor, as he asked for Brady’s word that he would help reverse the decision. That didn’t happen. “I commit to working with him and continuing to work with him on this issue because I know the importance of it,” Brady responded, making sure not to guarantee anything in some of these floor exchanges. For Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a staunch advocate of the GOP bill, he was assured by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that more would be done in terms of tax help for the people of Puerto Rico, whose island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. “I look forward to working with you on ideas to best serve the people of this island,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who thanked fellow GOP lawmakers for their concerns, but made no promises. For Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), the issue was with a new excise tax from Republicans that would be levied on the endowments of private colleges and universities. Barr said that would harm Berea College in his district, a ‘work college’ that uses its endowment money to pay the tuition of all students. It was noted in press stories back home. Barr Fights for Berea College in Tax Reform Bill – https://t.co/YoBgs5CWvp – — BereaOnline.com (@bereaonline) November 16, 2017 “I was pleased to learn that the Senate version of the bill exempts schools with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students from the excise tax,” Barr said, urging Brady to accept that position in any House-Senate negotiation. Brady said he would try. “Mr. Speaker, we will work together for a mutually accepted solution to make sure we exempt work colleges to use their endowments to provide tuition-free education,” the panel chairman responded. For Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the problem he brought to the House floor was under the heading of unintended consequences, as the GOP tax bill would subject native settlement trusts in Alaska to a higher rate of taxation. “This would make it more difficult for Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to provide long-term benefits to Alaska Natives,” Young said on the House floor, asking Brady to include provisions of a bill to remedy that and more. Unlike some of the other requests, Brady acknowledged that the GOP tax bill would “unintentionally” change the tax rate for the Alaskan settlements, agreeing to focus on this in conference as we finalize individual rate structures between the House and the Senate.” Others weren’t so lucky to get a guarantee of action, as they pressed for changes in maybe the most controversial part of the GOP plan, which limits a deduction for state and local taxes. “I am concerned about its impact on some of my constituents in Maryland who pay high state and local income taxes,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the only Republican member of the House from that state, which would be one of the biggest losers on the SALT issue. That subject also drew two California Republicans to make the same appeal to Brady later in the debate; Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) echoed the concerns of Harris – all of them got a murky assurance of help. “I am happy to commit to working with both of them to ensure we reach a positive outcome for their constituents and families as we reconcile our differences with the Senate,” Brady said, making no promises. Other Republicans brought up education, and a provision in the GOP tax reform bill that would hinder colleges and universities from providing tax free tuition waivers and reimbursements, a matter that has drawn more and more attention in recent days. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) – whose district includes Dayton University – and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) – whose district includes the University of Illinois – both appealed to Brady to make a change. “I believe that an unintended consequence of this bill would hinder middle class Americans pursuing a higher education degree in an attempt to better their lives,” Turner said. “I am worried it is going to have an impact on the custodians and the assistants in the Registrar’s Office who are just working at these institutions to be able to send their son or daughter to college,” said Davis. There was no guarantee that the provision would be changed. “I have a keen interest in this issue,” Brady told Turner and Davis. “I will work with you toward a positive solution on tuition assistance in conference with the Senate.” Democrats noted the exchanges on both days of the House tax reform debate, arguing that it showed off the haphazard nature of how the bill was put together. “I also was intrigued by the colloquy where Members came to ask the leadership if they will work with them to take out egregious elements of this tax proposal,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “We get this sort of, “Yes, I will work with the gentleman,” answer,” Kildee added, raising his voice on the floor. “Why did you put it in in the first place?” Kildee yelled. “Why are you cutting historic tax credits in the first place? Why did you put it in in the first place? You just wrote the bill. You just wrote it,” he said. GOP lawmakers said this past week that anyone can find a reason to vote against a big bill like this tax reform plan – we’ll see in coming weeks whether these publicly voiced concerns become an issue for the final version of tax reform in the Congress.