Mostly Cloudy
H 88° L 69°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 69°
  • cloudy-day
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 69°
  • cloudy-day
    Mostly Cloudy. H 86° L 58°

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
As trio of spending bills advance, Congress still faces shutdown threat

As trio of spending bills advance, Congress still faces shutdown threat

As trio of spending bills advance, Congress still faces shutdown threat
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

As trio of spending bills advance, Congress still faces shutdown threat

With funding for the federal government running out at the end of September, the Senate on Wednesday evening approved a three bill package of spending measures for 2019, as key lawmakers acknowledged that the Congress would again fail to approve all twelve funding bills by an October 1 deadline, which will force action later this month on a temporary funding measure to avert a government shutdown.

"We have a long way to go but we're getting there," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as Senators in both parties voiced their support for extra work done in August, as the Senate approved nine of 12 funding bills for next year.

The three bills which were finalized and grouped together - in what's known as a 'minibus' bill - cover funding for Congress and the Legislative Branch, Energy and Water programs, and money for both the Veterans Administration and military construction projects. The vote was 92-5 in favor of the plan.

The House is expected to approve the 'minibus' plan as soon as Thursday, but that leaves action still unfinished on nine other bills which fund the various operations of the federal government.

In the last 44 years, Congress has finished its spending work on time - by October 1 - only in 1996, 1994, 1988, and 1976.

Here is a basic breakdown of the first 'minibus':

+ The Energy and Water project portion is $44.6 billion - $1.4 billion above what was approved for 2018, and $8.1 billion above the President's budget request.

+ Funding for the VA and military construction projects totals $98.1 billion - that's $5.3 billion above what was approved for 2018. Unlike most other agencies, the VA is funded early - as $76 billion in this bill is for fiscal year 2020 - that insures even if there is a lapse in funding, and a government shutdown, that over 95 percent of VA workers will still be on the job, and getting paid.

+ Spending on Congress and the operations of the Legislative Branch is $4.83 billion, up $136 million from last year.

The text of the bill is available here, with more specifics in in this other document.

It's in that second document where you get into the details that lawmakers will be able to trumpet back home, from the Energy and Water section of the bill - which directs money for specific water projects in their home states and districts under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers.

This is just a partial list for example, for Florida and Georgia:

c9f363e5-975b-490e-9fb0-851508bbc08d{ "/Pub/p9/CmgSharedContent/2018/09/12/Images/WPIMAGE_cmgwsbradiojamiedupree_water13_18335.jpg?uuid=6UFt9DTQEemxKaMrYufZxg", "", "5d492d800ff546548de9e52359d1361f" "image" "" }

While the agreement says this bill "does not contain any congressional earmarks" - some Congressional watchdogs might beg to differ, as the bill directly names water projects in every state.

"This is the most popular item in the budget," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

The Army Corps would receive $7 billion under this plan - up $172 million from 2018 - "which will provide a much needed influx of funds into the nation’s water resources infrastructure," Congressional leaders said in a statement.

As one can see from the above graphic - there were a number of projects funded for the Army Corps which were not in the original budget request of President Trump - as money was included for harbors in Jacksonville, Miami, Palm Beach, Pensacola, Tampa and others in Florida, plus Brunswick and Savannah in Georgia.

There are a series of other items in this 'minibus' which deserve note as well.

+ The bill approves a $174,000 payment to the widow of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). This is normal procedure by the Congress to provide a year of salary to the spouse of a deceased lawmaker.

c9f363e5-975b-490e-9fb0-851508bbc08d{ "/Pub/p9/CmgSharedContent/2018/09/12/Images/WPIMAGE_cmgwsbradiojamiedupree_leg11_18336.jpg?uuid=7lZbBjTQEemxKaMrYufZxg", "", "40b21a78d8774db49144a214d8d35409" "image" "" }

+ The bill again instructs Capitol Police to allow people to sled on the grounds of the Capitol during the winter, when it snows - that is currently prohibited under one section of federal law, in order to "protect public property, turf, and grass of the Capitol Grounds from injury."

+ The bill directs the Government Accountability Office to study the possibility of raising the mandatory retirement age for Capitol Police officers from 57 to 60 years of age.

+ The bill also would finally bring the Senate into the internet age, by requiring candidates for U.S. Senate to file their campaign donation reports electronically.

+ The military construction part of the bill specifically prohibits the use of money to 'close or realign Naval Station Guantanamo Bay," the U.S. military facility at the southeastern tip of Cuba.

+ $33 million is included for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, which is running out of room for burials at the site, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The final cost could be more than ten times that figure, adding 37 acres of land.

Negotiations are also continuing on a separate two-bill package, which would include funding for the Pentagon, as well as the the Departments of Labor, and Health and Human Services.

While the September 30 shutdown deadline might seem a ways off - the House is not scheduled to be in session next week, leaving only a few days at the end of the month for action on those bills - and a temporary spending resolution.

President Donald Trump has made noise about forcing a shutdown, in order to get more money for his border wall, but GOP leaders are hoping to avoid that, worried it would boomerang against Republicans in the November elections.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A large cargo plane crashed Saturday in Texas, killing all three people on board, officials said.  Photos: Amazon cargo plane crashes into shallow bay Federal Aviation Administration officials said the twin-engine Boeing 767 plane crashed around 12:45 p.m. about 3 miles west of the Chambers County Airport, KHOU reported. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office said no one survived, WPLG reported.  Witnesses said they heard the plane’s engines surging and that the craft turned sharply before falling into a nosedive, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said. Dave Clark, senior vice president of Worldwide Operations at Amazon, said:  “Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy. We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support.” Hawthorne told the Houston Chronicle late Saturday afternoon that police had found human remains at the site of the crash. Investigators have also recovered parts of the plane, he said. “There’s everything from cardboard boxes to women’s clothing and bed sheets,” Hawthorne said. The largest piece from the Boeing 767 that police have recovered is 50 feet long, Hawthorne told the newspaper. The sheriff said recovering pieces of the plane and its black box containing flight data records will be difficult in muddy marshland that extends to about 5 feet deep in the area. Air boats are needed to access the area. The plane, operated by Atlas Air, departed from Miami and was headed to George Bush International Airport. >> Read more trending news  Atlas Air operates 20 cargo planes for Amazon. The Amazon Prime Air branded aircraft was converted from a passenger to cargo plane in 2016, Airways Magazine reported. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memorandum for former President Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was submitted Friday and parts of it were made public Saturday. >> Read more trending news Mueller’s team filed its recommendation for Manafort’s punishment in one of his two criminal cases, but U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson says it contains sensitive information that prosecutors want to keep secret.  UPDATE 3:30 p.m. EST, Feb. 23: Robert Mueller has recommended a U.S. District Court judge not be lenient when sentencing Paul Manafort, according to an 800-page sentencing memo made public Saturday. In the memo, Mueller alleges Manafort “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law” and shows a “hardened adherence to committing crimes,” the Washington Post reported. Mueller didn’t recommend a specific sentence for Manafort, but noted that federal guidelines call for a sentence of 17 to 22 years. However, under Manafort’s guilty plea, the statutory maximum he faces is 10 years, according to the Washington Post. The special counsel said they may ask Judge Amy Berman Jackson to order a sentence that runs consecutive to whatever sentence Manafort receives in Virginia federal court. 'Based on his relevant sentencing conduct, Manafort presents many aggravating sentencing factors and no warranted mitigating factors,” Mueller wrote. Manafort is set to be sentenced March 8 in Virginia, and will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on March 13. ORIGINAL REPORT: The midnight deadline for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to make recommendations about the sentencing for Paul Manafort passed Friday night, but the report was not publicly released as of Saturday morning.  Manafort, President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, pleaded guilty to several charges last year.  Prosecutors may have sent the document to Judge Amy Berman Jackson under seal, with proposed redactions, CNN reported Saturday. It would then be up to Jackson to decide what happens next. Prosecutors were expected to file the sentencing memo in federal court in Washington, where Manafort pleaded guilty in September to charges including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering. >> More on Robert Mueller's investigation  Manafort agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors; however, authorities later said Manafort lied to investigators. Prosecutors are not expected to recommend leniency for him. Manafort’s attorneys will have until midnight Monday to file their own sentencing memo. A judge is expected to hand down Manafort’s sentence March 13 at a 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. >> Judge rules Paul Manafort intentionally lied after agreeing to cooperate In a separate case that also stemmed from Mueller’s investigation, a jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty last summer of tax and bank fraud charges in a case related to work he and an associate did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. Prosecutors last week recommended Manafort serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison and be fined as much as $24 million for those crimes. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced in that case during a 9 a.m. hearing March 8 before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, according to a court filing. >> Mueller recommends Paul Manafort be sentenced to 19.5-24.5 years in prison and $24M fine Last month, defense attorneys said Manafort has been kept in solitary confinement for his own safety. He’s had severe gout for several months of his incarceration, according to his attorneys, and it’s sometimes been severe enough to require him to use a wheelchair. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A 31-year-old man was arrested Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of his grandfather at a home near Ocoee. Deputies said the victim was shot shortly before 7:15 a.m. in the Lake Florence subdivision near Good Homes Road.  Relatives said the victim was boxing icon Lucious 'Lou' Harris.  Deputies said they arrested Lucien Harris in connection with the shooting.  “My father was, like, an icon in the boxing world,' said Steve Harris, the victim's son and the suspect's uncle. 'Everybody knew him -- all across the world.'  He said he and his family almost expected something bad to happen.  'It's not a complete surprise. Not to me,' Harris said. 'It could have been me. It could have been my other brother in the car, my sister. We all knew something was going to happen eventually, but not my dad.'  Lou Harris owned Harris Boxing on Ivey Lane in Orlando and trained hundreds of fighters, including his grandson, relatives said.  'He took people from the street and took them right to the Olympics -- and (they won) gold medals, bronze medals. He did it all,' Steve Harris said of his father.  He said the suspect was living with his grandfather at his Florence Vista Boulevard home.  He said Lucien Harris was once a boxer, too, but was not successful and had resentment and jealousy because of it.  Records said Lucien Harris was arrested in October after he was accused of threatening to kill his uncle with a hammer and knife.  His uncle told investigators at the time that Lucien Harris has 'schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and does not take medications for his issues,' records said.  Lucien Harris was not prosecuted in that case.  Records said his arrest history dates back to 2004, when he was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.  Since then, he has also been arrested on charges of possessing a gun as a convicted felon, armed burglary and grand theft.  'His grandson had issues for many years,' Steve Harris said. 'He did time at an early age.'  Lucien Harris was booked into the Orange County Jail on charges of first-degree murder.
  • Who doesn't love food and drinks, especially when it comes to trying out a variety of kinds all in one visit? Thankfully, if you don't have any weekend plans, you can check out the annual Downtown Food and Wine Fest located in the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola.  This year's celebration on Robinson Street features over 30 dishes from Orlando's premier restaurants, over 50 domestic and international wines, and of course, LIVE entertainment.  However, before you set out to enjoy the festival there's a few things you need to know:  - You can't bring any outside food or drink to the event.  - Pets are not allowed inside due to food health laws set by the City of Orlando.  - You can bring your own blanket and chairs to sit and enjoy the live music.  - Since its on the weekend, you can expect road closures. Here they are:  Southbound Eola Drive from Robinson Street to Washington Street at 10am  Northbound Eola Drive from Robinson Street to Washington Street until 2pm.  Broadway, Cathcart, Hillman from Ridgewood Street to Robinson Street until 2pm.  Robinson Street from Rosalind Avenue to Summerlin Avenue at 6am.   Ticket prices for the event vary, depending on what you want to do. You can check them out here:  https://downtownfoodandwinefest.radio.com/ticket-info  The events starts on Saturday, February 23rd from 12pm to 9pm and Sunday, February 24th from 12pm to 7pm.
  • Southeastern Grocers announced the closing of another eight Florida stores in coming months. Jacksonville based Southeastern Grocers, is the parent company to Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Bi-Lo and Fresco y Mas grocery stores.  The company owns more than 550 stores throughout the southeast and declared bankruptcy last spring. The bankruptcy restructuring included closing 94 stores to help lower debt by about $600 million.  In addition to the eight stores closing in Florida, two of which are in Central Florida, another 14 are closing throughout the South.  The two in Central Florida include the Winn-Dixie at 7840 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy in Kissimmee and the Winn-Dixie at 5732 N. Hiawassee Road in Orlando.

Washington Insider

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their one page plan on Friday to overturn President Donald Trump's bid to funnel more money to a border wall by declaring a national emergency, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters said the House would vote next Tuesday to block the President's executive actions on funding for the wall. 'Members of Congress all swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution,' the Speaker said. 'The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,' Pelosi wrote earlier this week in a letter to fellow Democrats. Democrats said they already have more than a majority of members signed on to the one page resolution to reject the Trump national emergency. 'We hope that enough of our normal Republican enablers will join us to stand up for the Constitution,' said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). 'If not, we’re ready to turn to the courthouse.' As of Friday, only one Republican in the House had signed on to the plan to reject the President’s national emergency, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). “Trump’s absurd declaration of a “national emergency” undercuts the Constitution,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as approval in the House would send the plan to the Senate. Under special rules governing this process, GOP leaders would not be able to ignore the House action, as a vote must take place on the resolution. But even if it passes in the Senate, a veto is likely by President Trump, and at this point - it seems unlikely that Democrats could muster enough GOP votes for a two-thirds supermajority to override a veto.