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National Govt & Politics
Seven things to watch for in DC this week
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Seven things to watch for in DC this week

Seven things to watch for in DC this week
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Seven things to watch for in DC this week

As Congress returns from a ten day legislative break, lawmakers come back to Capitol Hill facing a series of politcally explosive topics, ranging from the President's diplomatic overtures to North Korea, to his controversial moves to slap tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada, and how best to deal with the hot button issue of illegal immigration.

Bubbling underneath all of that as well, continues to be the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as the White House continues to question the probe being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Here's some of what we might see this week in the nation's capital:

1. What can Trump-Kim summit produce? With President Trump declaring on Friday that he will meet the North Korean leader on June 12 in Singapore, the White House now has just over a week to not only get the final prep done for that historic meeting, but also lay the groundwork for some kind of progress to come from it. After a Friday meeting in the Oval Office with a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr. Trump made clear there was no guarantee that the summit would bring about a major agreement, as he floated the idea of maybe signing an offical end to the Korean War. But remember, there doesn't seem to be any possibility that the U.S. will walk away with what had been the original bottom line for the President - an agreement by Kim Jong Un to end the nuclear weapons program of the Pyongyang regime. Will the summit produce any tangible results? And what if it doesn't? Those will be some of the questions being aired in coming days.

2. House GOP returns to internal fight over DACA, Dreamers. When Republicans left town for their Memorial Day break, only five more signatures were needed on a special "discharge" petition, to force votes in the full House on a series of four different immigration measures, some supported by the White House, some not. A group of more moderate Republicans have made clear they are tired of waiting to have a vote in the House on plans to allow illegal immigrant "Dreamers" the chance to get on a 10-12 year pathway to citizenship. President Trump has said he wants a litany of changes to immigration law, but as this reporter has repeatedly documented, the votes are not there in either the House or Senate for such a plan. You'll notice that GOP lawmakers are still talking about making a deal that can be approved. They are now on the clock.

3. Congress not likely to stop Trump tariffs. Congress has the power over tariffs, but has shifted much of that authority to the Executive Branch and the President - so when you hear lawmakers in both parties complaining about recent moves by the President to raise steel and alumnimum tariffs on imports, don't be fooled into think that somehow the Congress is going to come back to Capitol Hill, and suddenly stand up and exercise its authority to stop that move. Article I of the Constitution is pretty clear: "The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises." Most of the reaction from both parties has been entirely negative to new tariffs aimed at Mexico, Canada and the European Union, as GOP lawmakers worry it will harm domestic economic growth. Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA) said the President's tariffs, "and the inevitable retaliatory moves by these countries — will hurt working Americans, negatively affect our economy, and do not further the goal of fostering more equitable trade."

4. Congress takes first steps on next year's spending bills. Only four times since the big budget process reforms of 1974 has the Congress approved funding bills on time for the federal government, and this week will see the first votes on some of those measures for 2019 (the deadline is September 30). House Republicans have put three of the twelve funding plans into one measure for consideration on the floor of the House, dealing with energy and water programs, military construction and the VA, plus the budget for Congress. The list of amendments that might be made in order is already an interesting one, including an end to any taxpayer funded settlements of sexual harassment claims against members of Congress, an end to the use of plastic drinking straws, and a possible fight over immigration, and whether people in the U.S. illegally could be employed on Capitol Hill.

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5. Congress looks to advance local water projects. While most people probably don't realize it, the Congress has pretty much done away with pork barrel spending. But that doesn't mean that lawmakers have given up on finding ways to direct money to projects in their states and districts. This week, a major Water Resources Development bill comes to the House floor, filled with designations for what the Army Corps of Engineers should be working on. Two provisions caught my eye - one to require a study as to whether water projects should be moved out of the Pentagon and the Army Corps of Engineers, into a different part of the government, and the desire for more frequent water development bills. "Congress should consider a water resources development bill not less often than once every Congress," the bill states.

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6. The Russia questions will continue. The President was active again on Twitter this weekend, tweeting his familiar frustrations with the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any possible links to the Trump Campaign. A big story on Saturday in the New York Times included a letter from Mr. Trump's lawyers to the Special Counsel from back in January, which argued in parts that a President cannot be charged with obstruction of justice. "Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media?" the President tweeted - though there was no evidence to suggest that had happened, as the leaks could have just as easily come from the President's legal team. Democrats said it was ridiculous to suggest that the President was above the law, in any way.

7. Inspector General report on Clinton email probe. It seems like this internal review of how the FBI and Justice Department dealt with the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server could become public as soon as this week. The Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a hearing on it for Tuesday, but that was delayed until June 11. If that is the exact timing, then it's possible we could see more about what went on behind the scenes about the email probe. The irony is that FBI Director James Comey is likely to be criticized for going public about emails which were discovered - and then discounted - just before the 2016 election, which some Clinton backers believe helped Donald Trump in the last week of the campaign. Back then, Democrats wanted Comey's scalp. Then, it was Mr. Trump who forced him out.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A pair of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets that crashed shortly after takeoff in recent months from Indonesia and Ethiopia lacked two key safety features because they were considered optional extras, The New York Times reported Thursday. >> Read more trending news Authorities continue to investigate the causes of the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashes, but similarities between the disasters pointed to possible issues with the planes’ stall-prevention systems, called MCAS, according to The Wall Street Journal. The software system can, in some circumstances, point the nose of the plane down to avoid an aerodynamic stall, The Associated Press reported. >> Boeing 737 Max 8: Transportation secretary asks for review of FAA certification A pair of optional Boeing safety features might have helped pilots determine if the system was giving erroneous readings and pushing the nose of the plane down without cause, the Times reported. One of the optional upgrades would have displayed readings from the plane’s sensors while the other, called a disagree light, would have been activated if the sensors were pulling conflicting information, according to the Times. Boeing officials plan to make the disagree light a standard feature on all new 737 Max planes, the Times reported, citing an unidentified source. The sensor reading display will remain optional. >> Ethiopian Airlines crash: Captain reported issues shortly after takeoff Neither feature has been mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the Times. Boeing officials are expected to complete a software update to 737 Max anti-stall systems by Monday, according to the AP. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to certify the company’s changes and its plans to train pilots on the system within the next two months, the AP reported. >> Photos: Ethiopian Airlines crash kills 157, including 8 Americans  The Journal previously reported the update had been planned in the wake of October’s Lion Air crash, but work was stalled by disagreements over technical and engineering issues between Boeing and FAA officials. The update was also set back by the five-week government shutdown sparked in December by President Donald Trump’s demand for funding to build his border wall, according to the Journal. Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in October shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 189 people. Less than five months later, on March 10, Ethiopian Air Flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing 157 people. >> Lion Air jet with 189 on board crashes in sea off Indonesia; no survivors expected As investigations into the crashes continue, authorities worldwide have grounded Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
  • Florida Man makes headlines across the globe almost every day of the week. Now viral social media posts have people finding the Florida Man that matches their personality by Googling “Florida Man” along with their birthday (year not included). >>> Check the 'What the Florida!' section of the WFTV mobile app to stay up to date on the latest Florida Man news <<< TRENDING NOW: Jennifer Kesse: Missing woman's family settles lawsuit against Orlando police All lanes of I-95 southbound shut down after tanker truck tips over, spills fuel across highway Video captures SUV just before crash that injured 4 children in Ormond-by-the-Sea VIDEO: Report: Virginia woman fatally shot herself while handcuffed Maybe on that day Florida Man stole cigarettes and booze while wearing Spider-Man mask (March 15). Or he scared the public by walking around with a rattlesnake he found on the road wrapped around his neck (February 18). The viral craze started based off of a Tumblr post last week and a tweet on Tuesday. As of Thursday afternoon the tweet had 21,743 retweets and 92,213 likes. EVERYBODY google “florida man” followed by your birthday (florida man august 22) and tell me what you get. mine is Florida Man tries to attack neighbor with tractor— swervin merv (@g_pratimaaa) March 19, 2019 If you aren’t satisfied with the Florida Man story that comes up for your birthday, here are a few of our favorite Florida Man stories from the past year: Police: Man shot after refusing shot at Ocoee bar Semi-nude man rides bicycle backward -- again -- on Florida interstate WATCH: Man caught on camera licking doorbell of Florida home No dough: Florida men steal empty safe at Domino's Only in Florida: Man seen hanging onto car's hood on interstate ‘Florida Man’ had quite a year: A look back at 2018 DOWNLOAD: Free WFTV News & Weather Apps Not near a TV? Click here to watch WFTV newscasts live Watch Live: Doppler 9 HD 
  • The Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs last year to several high-profile critics of President Donald Trump is expected to plead guilty Thursday in a Manhattan federal court. >> Read more trending news Cesar Sayoc is scheduled to appear at 4 p.m. for a change of plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.  Sayoc pleaded not guilty in November to a slew of charges after he was identified as the man suspected of mailing pipe bombs to targets including CNN, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. >> Cesar Sayoc Jr.: What we know about the man arrested for sending package bombs Sayoc has been held without bail since his late-October arrest outside a South Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces. Authorities launched an investigation in October after pipe bombs were mailed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and philanthropist George Soros. In the subsequent days, similar devices were mailed to several other prominent Trump critics, including U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Democratic donor Tom Steyer. >> 2nd mail bomb to Tom Steyer recovered; suspect agrees to remain jailed, face charges in New York Authorities said Sayoc was linked to the packages after investigators found his fingerprints and DNA on some of them. Without a plea deal, Sayoc faced charges carrying a potential penalty of mandatory life in prison. A court filing last Friday didn't indicate which charge or charges the plea would involve. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A Florida woman faced a judge Wednesday in connection with the death of a 4-year-old boy. >> Watch the news report here On Tuesday night, the Orange County Sheriff's Office arrested Mariah Butler of Orlando on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child. >> On WFTV.com: Boy, 4, dies after being found in SUV parked outside school Investigators said Logan Starling, the son of Butler's boyfriend, was left inside a hot SUV in the parking lot of the Elite Preparatory Academy in October 2018. Detectives said four other children got out of the SUV and went into the school at about 8:20 a.m., but Starling didn’t exit the car.  Court documents show Butler, who worked at the school, was asked during the day where her stepson, Logan, was. The documents also stated that it wasn't until she was asked again at the end of the day that she realized the child was still in the car. >> On WFTV.com: Stepmother of boy who died in hot SUV quits job after receiving death threats Authorities said Butler found Starling in the third row of the SUV, leaning against the window with his eyes closed.  The school's director carried Starling to a nearby fire station, authorities said. Starling was then taken to a hospital, where his body temperature was recorded at 108 degrees. For perspective, doctors say a fever above 104 degrees can cause brain damage. The investigation also showed the inside temperature of the car was 121 degrees when the boy was removed. Investigators believe he was in the car for six hours.  Butler claimed she remembered Starling getting out of the SUV and that she locked the doors when they were walking into the school. >> Read more trending news  Documents said Butler believed Starling got into the SUV later, but she wasn’t sure how. She said during an interview that Starling suffered from autism and was known for wandering around. But arrest documents show Starling’s teacher disputed that claim, and video showed the child never left the SUV. 'You were arrested pursuant to a probable cause capias, where probable cause was previously found for the offense of aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child,” the judge said in court. Butler was ordered to remain in the Orange County Jail on $15,000 bail. Logan's family believes the bond was set too low. Butler was later able to bond out of jail Wednesday evening. 'Six months of no punishment for Mariah seemed like six years,' said Logan's great grandfather Roy Werner. 'But six months of Logan being gone seems like six days.
  • Orlando city leaders are preparing two new hubs in downtown Orlando for Uber and Lyft drivers waiting for people who need a ride home.  The hubs could not only keep area roads safer by helping people find a ride after drinking, they could also help relieve some of the congestion that takes place downtown around 2 a.m., when bars close.   The two hubs will be in places easy to access by those enjoying the downtown nightlife.   The first is on Magnolia Avenue near the Orange County Regional History Center and Heritage Square Park, close to a cluster of bars.   The second will be located further west, closer to I-4. That hub is planned for Gertrude Street, near Washington and Jefferson.   The hubs will only operate late at night on Fridays and Saturdays, from midnight to 3 a.m. This is a trial run for the ride-sharing plan, which will run for 6 months.

Washington Insider

  • Apart from a few GOP voices in the U.S. House and Senate, most Republican lawmakers in Congress had little to say in recent days about President Donald Trump's continuing attacks on the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as the President used a speech in Ohio on Wednesday to launch an extended series of jabs as the former POW. 'I have to be honest - I've never liked him much,' Mr. Trump said at a speech at a tank production plant in Lima, Ohio. With Congress on break this week, many Republicans stayed away from the tide of remarks by the President, as only a handful of GOP officials stood up to tell Mr. Trump to back off, and leave the dead U.S. Senator alone. 'It’s deplorable what he said,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said of President Trump in a Wednesday radio interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting.  “That’s what I called it from the floor of the Senate seven months ago. It will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again, and I will continue to speak out,' said Isakson, who has been one of McCain's few public defenders in the GOP to push back directly at Mr. Trump. 'John McCain is an American hero and I am thankful for his life of service and legacy to our country and Arizona,' said Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who now holds his seat in Congress - though McSally did not directly mention the President in her statement. But Rep. Peter King R-NY, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) were outliers, as some supporters said the President was needlessly picking a fight - with a dead man - which he will never win. 'President 0. Dead Man 1,' wrote conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson. 'Let's be a little less coo-coo,' said Anthony Scaramucci on CNN Thursday morning, who served in the White House for a very short period of time in 2017, but remains a strong supporter of the President. Here's the President's full remarks about McCain from the Wednesday event: In a late night email sent to reporters on Wednesday, the McCain Institute pushed back - without mentioning the President by name - as the group defended the late GOP Senator, and one time Republican nominee for President in 2008. 'John McCain was held for 5 years in a Vietnamese prison and brutally tortured,' the group wrote, offering a laundry list of supportive items from his resume in the military and in Congress. 'John McCain always called on America to stand up for its values of freedom and democracy,' the group added, as even in death, McCain was still embroiled in battles with President Trump.