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National Govt & Politics
Congress returns facing guns, investigations, funding battles
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Congress returns facing guns, investigations, funding battles

Congress returns facing guns, investigations, funding battles

Congress returns facing guns, investigations, funding battles

After an extended summer break that was filled with major news events which could well drive the details of future legislative work in Congress, lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week facing a host of heated political issues, any combination of which could become a partisan flash point for Democrats in Congress and President Donald Trump.

"We have a responsibility to make our schools, shopping centers, houses of worship and other public places safer," top Democrats wrote to the President in a letter on Monday, urging him to make it clear what he would support in terms of legislation to deal with gun violence.

Hanging over all of this is the specter of more investigations by Democrats, and the 2020 campaign - plus the calendar - as the House and Senate will work the next three weeks, and then take a two week break into October.

Here are a few items to watch in the days ahead.

1. Democrats return with immediate push on gun legislation. Normally Mondays can be quiet on Capitol Hill, especially as lawmakers trickle back into town following an almost six week summer break. But Democrats are immediately launching a political broadside at the GOP and President Trump by demanding action on gun violence legislation, with news conferences involving Democratic leaders and Mayors, clearly trying to raise the pressure on Republicans - especially in the Senate - to act on gun legislation. It still seems unlikely that there will be votes and compromise on guns, but the Democrats are coming out of the gate fast this week.

2. Democrats want answers from Pentagon on Trump hotels. Already incensed over what Democrats and ethics experts say are clear examples of the President's companies enriching themselves through spending by the federal government, a story broken over the weekend by Politico has further emboldened Democrats to call for answers. In this case, military flight crews have been making stops in Scotland, and staying at President Trump's Turnberry golf resort, which has been in financial trouble. The Air Force is going to get squeezed by Congress for information on this. It's one to watch in the coming weeks.

3. Action needed to avoid funding lapse. While the Congress was able to reach a two year budget and debt deal with President Trump, lawmakers still need to approve the details of the funding bills for Uncle Sam. As usual, Congress will not make the September 30 deadline for that, so a temporary funding plan is needed, what's often referred to as the CR - Continuing Resolution. The House is going to vote on that next week. It's not clear how long that temporary plan will last, whether to Thanksgiving, or into December. But it's an important part of the legislative tableau which will confront lawmakers and the White House this fall.

4. What about the Senate? The Senate is going to keep doing what it's been doing for months, and that is continue to approve nominations from President Trump. If you look at this year, very little time has been taken on actual legislation, as the Senate has morphed into a different type of legislative body from the one I first saw back in 1980. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring any gun-related legislation to the Senate floor unless it already has the approval of President Trump - and right now, the President has not made clear that he's going to accept anything in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

5. Democrats ready to take more steps on impeachment. With a majority of Democrats publicly in favor of an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are expected to vote Thursday on an outline of an investigation into a variety of familiar questions surrounding the President. Republicans have labeled the effort 'ridiculous,' and will certainly keep up their public attacks on the process. It's still not clear how far this will go, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats still have reservations about a full blown effort on impeachment.

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Congress returns facing guns, investigations, funding battles

6. Trade issues bedevil White House and Congress. After new tariffs started last week against imported goods from China, there still isn't any evidence that the U.S. and China are on the road to cutting a new trade agreement between the two countries. Also, there's no indication that the trade deal involving the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is going to be voted on in the Congress soon. The White House has not submitted the agreement officially, as Democrats continue to demand extra legislation dealing with labor concerns, environmental questions, and more. So, when you see Republicans tweet that it's time for action in Congress on the USMCA trade deal - it's still not officially on Capitol Hill for action.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A Michigan toddler died last week after authorities said her head became stuck in a car's power window in Detroit. >> Read more trending news  According to WXYZ-TV, Kierre Allen, 2, was inside the parked 2005 Mazda 3 with her father, who had fallen asleep, last Monday when the window somehow closed on her head, authorities said. The 21-year-old man awoke to find the child caught in the window, he told police. Kierre's uncle took the pair to a nearby hospital as the father tried to revive the girl, WJBK-TV reported. Doctors said she was dead when she arrived. Police arrested the girl's father, who had outstanding traffic warrants, authorities said. He has not been charged in connection with Kierre's death, the Detroit News reported.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in Florida is searching for Patrick Felton, 38, in reference to an Amber Alert regarding the whereabouts of a 13-year-old boy.  The boy has been located, but Felton has not yet been found by authorities. On Saturday night, police were called after Felton allegedly got into a fight with the boy's mother. Felton dropped her off at Baptist North Medical Campus, located at 11250 Baptist Health Drive, authorities said. Felton would not let the boy get out of the vehicle and drove off with him, authorities said. The boy's mother reportedly called the suspect, demanding he return the 13-year-old. Felton confirmed he had the boy and hung up the phone, police said. Felton would no longer answer his phone, but police were able to locate his abandoned car on Redpoll Avenue, authorities said. They later found the boy, but not Felton. Records show Felton has a lengthy criminal history, including carjacking with a deadly weapon, for which he served 20 years. He was released from prison in January 2019, then he violated his parole, got arrested and was released again in August 2019.  Now, JSO is looking for him concerning his alleged involvement in this abduction.  Anyone with information about Felton's whereabouts should contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a possible reward if your tip leads to an arrest, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • Authorities in Washington state are offering up to a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the identification and arrest of a suspect accused of posing as a flower delivery man, then beating and pepper-spraying a woman in an attack last month caught on camera in Seattle's Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. >> Read more trending news  'There's a good chance' the woman may lose sight in one eye following the attack that has left her traumatized with nightmares, according to Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound. Surveillance video of the attack obtained by KIRO-TV shows the woman greeting the unidentified man at her apartment lobby door on Aug. 24. The man then unleashes on the woman, who falls down, flower bouquet in hand, as the suspect repeatedly hits and then pepper sprays her. Crime Stoppers said the woman did not know the man who attacked her and that he did not steal anything from her. Seattle police confirmed Sunday they're investigating the August attack but did not provide additional details about why the woman may have been targeted citing an active investigation. The woman initially told the man by phone to leave the flowers outside, according to Crime Stoppers. The suspect then told her she would have to sign for them and asked the woman to verify her name and where she worked before attacking her. Neighbors told KIRO-TV on Sunday that they were shocked to hear of the attack. 'It's horrible; I can't believe it,' said one neighbor who did not want to be publicly identified. 'That's malicious, evil.' Contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at P3Tips.com or call 1-800-222-8477 with information related to the man's identity.
  • Apopka police said a driver hit and killed a pedestrian and hurt another early Sunday. Around 4 a.m., police said, officers responded to Main Street and McGee Avenue in reference to a traffic crash involving a SUV and two pedestrians.When emergency services arrived on scene, they found a man dead and a woman in critical condition.  Police said the driver fled the scene. Investigators were able to track down the driver, identified as Jesus Bolanos Rodriguez. Bolanos Rodriguez was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death, leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury and driving without a license. Bolanos Rodriguez was transported to the Orange County Jail for processing.
  •  Davie Police have been searching for 16-year-old Destiny Rose since August 20th, but are now stepping up their investigation after a video call to the missing girls family. Rose’s aunt reported the call from her niece’s Instagram account to police. The video showed a Hispanic man in his 20’s or 30’s who eventually moved to show Rose crying and sitting in a chair with a rope wrapped around her neck. The man had a crew cut and a short patch of facial hair on his chin. Detectives said the man told the family, “If you actually cared about her, you would be here to get her” before disconnecting. Rose is 5’1” tall,  with blond hair and green eyes and weighs about 146 pounds.  She was last seen at the  Alpha Group Home in Southwest Ranches.   Police are asking anyone with information to call 954-693-8200 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).

Washington Insider

  • Democrats on Sunday denounced President Donald Trump, the Justice Department, and the acting Director of National Intelligence, accusing the Trump Administration of violating federal law by withholding information from a whistleblower inside the U.S. Intelligence Community, as the top Democrat in Congress said this could dramatically escalate the standoff over various investigations of the President. 'If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to fellow Democrats on Sunday. Her letter came as critics of the President said Mr. Trump had used a phone call with the new leader of Ukraine to urge him to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, who did work for a Ukrainian gas company. 'We must be sure that the President and his Administration are always conducting our national security and foreign policy in the best interest of the American people, not the President’s personal or political interest,' Speaker Pelosi added. Democrats said the Justice Department and the Acting Director of National Intelligence - who took over in that position just last month when two other top officials were pushed out - were violating federal law by withholding the whistleblower information, evidently about President Trump and Ukraine. By referring to a 'new stage of investigation' involving the President in her letter to fellow Democrats, Speaker Pelosi immediately raised questions about whether she might change her mind on the idea of impeachment proceedings. 'Republicans, it's time to stop making excuses for Trump,' said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). 'Enough is enough.' 'No one is above the law, not even President Trump,' said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). 'The DNI needs to refer this complaint to Congress immediately.' 'Trump wants to bury a whistleblower complaint that the Inspector General has deemed urgent,' said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). 'It’s the law,' said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). 'It’s. The. Law.' tweeted Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). At issue is what's known as the 'Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act,' which says if an internal complaint is judged to be urgent by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community - then it is sent to the Congressional intelligence committees. The Inspector General has ruled exactly that - but the Trump Administration refuses to turn over the information. The law does include a provision that if the Director of National Intelligence refuses to give Congress the material, the whistleblower could do it on his or her own. On Sunday, President Trump told reporters his conversation with the President of Ukraine had been a 'beautiful' one, and did not involve any wrongdoing on his part. 'Well, this whistleblower - or whoever it was - because it sounds like it’s not a whistleblower,' the President told reporters.  'You can’t have that happen to a President of the United States,' he said.