Politics

WASHINGTON The U.S. government’s costs could increase by $2.3 billion in 2018 if Congress and President Donald Trump decide not to fund Obamacare-related payments to health insurers, according to a study released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The payments amount to about $7 billion in fiscal year 2017 and help cover out-of-pocket medical costs for low-income Americans who purchase insurance on the individual insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. Trump has threatened to withhold the payments to force Democrats to the negotiating table on a healthcare bill to replace Obamacare. He has also said he will fund the subsidies if Democrats agree to funding for his proposed border wall with Mexico as part of efforts to pass a government funding bill this week and avert a shutdown. Democrats have rejected the conditional offer. If no deal is made, parts of the federal government will shut down at 12:01 am …

WASHINGTON The Senate’s main investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is equipped with a much smaller staff than previous high-profile intelligence and scandal probes in Congress, which could potentially affect its progress, according to sources and a Reuters review of public records. With only seven staff members initially assigned to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s three-month-old investigation, progress has been sluggish and minimal, said two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity. A committee aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said two more staff members were being added and a few others were involved less formally. “We need to pick up the pace,” Senator Martin Heinrich, a committee Democrat, told Reuters on Monday. “It is incumbent on us to have the resources to do this right and expeditiously, and I think we need additional staff.” While some directly involved in the investigation disputed characterizations of the …

WASHINGTON The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to unveil his strategy this week to overturn landmark 2015 net neutrality rules, a move that will kickoff a new battle over the future of the internet. Ajit Pai, who was named chair of the FCC by President Donald Trump in January, will deliver a speech titled “The Future of Internet Regulation” on Wednesday in Washington, the FCC said. Sources said Pai is expected to announce that he will begin the process of taking public comment to repeal the rules approved by the FCC under President Barack Obama in early 2015. The FCC could hold an initial vote on his proposal at the FCC’s May 18 meeting, the sources said. Pai’s office declined to comment. The rules approved by the FCC in 2015 prohibit broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a “fast lane,” to certain internet services over others. …

WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump this week will sign new executive orders before he completes his first 100 days in office, including two on energy and the environment, which would make it easier for the United States to develop energy on and offshore, a White House official said on Sunday. “This builds on previous executive actions that have cleared the way for job-creating pipelines, innovations in energy production, and reduced unnecessary burden on energy producers,” the official said on condition of anonymity.  On Wednesday, Trump is expected to sign an executive order related to the 1906 Antiquities Act, which enables the president to designate federal areas of land and water as national monuments to protect them from drilling, mining and development, the source said. On Friday, Trump is expected to sign an order to review areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration, as well as rules governing offshore drilling. The new measures would build on …

Click below for related story: Click below for Tony’s toons: Click below for related story: Click for related video: Click below for related story: This Thread Brought To You By The Number 0: In Case You Missed It Dept.: The World Health organization issued a report Wednesday claiming that eating bacon greatly increases the chances of your getting cancer. Other health experts say don’t let that report alarm you. Statistics also say that not eating bacon greatly increased the chances of you blowing yourself up. President Trump responded quietly to North Korea’s dud missile launch on Saturday in which the rocket exploded on the launch pad and didn’t travel far, leaving Kim Jung Un red-faced. North Korean missiles are exactly like U.S. civil servants. You can’t fire them and you can’t make them work. California Berkeley students clashed with pro-Trump supporters Saturday at the Patriots Day rally. The snowflakes are livid. Last week President Trump …

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has cut short the final leg of his Asia trip to race back to Washington, where the Trump administration faces a critical week on tax reform and a funding plan to keep the government running, an aide said on Sunday. Pence, who has been traveling in Asia to reassure allies and partners about President Donald Trump’s commitment to the region, had originally planned to spend two nights in Honoluluat the end of a trip that took him to South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia. While he spoke with business leaders in each country, Pence’s trip was overshadowed by rising tensions in North Korea, where it is feared another nuclear test could be conducted soon in defiance of United Nations sanctions. Pence will now spend one night in Hawaii and is slated to be back in Washington on Tuesday morning, his aide told reporters before Air Force …

WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump said anti-Semitism should be defeated and called the Holocaust the “darkest chapter of human history” in a video address on Sunday, following two missteps by his administration regarding statements about genocide during World War Two. “The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide. They were murdered by an evil that words cannot describe, and that the human heart cannot bear,” Trump said in a speech to the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in New York on Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. “On Yom HaShoah, we look back at the darkest chapter of human history,” Trump added. “We mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge: ‘Never again.’” In January, on international Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Trump administration statement failed to mention Jews, the overwhelming majority of those who were killed in concentration …

WASHINGTON The Department of Homeland Security will not target immigrants brought to the United States as children for deportation, despite conflicting statements within the Trump administration, its secretary John Kelly said on Sunday. Kelly, asked on Sunday morning talk shows to clarify the department’s position on the status of these illegal immigrants protected under an Obama-era program, said the agency is focused on deporting only dangerous criminals. “My organization has not targeted these so-called Dreamers,” Kelly told CNN, referring to the name given to those granted protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by Democratic President Barack Obama and extended by Republican President Donald Trump. “We have many, many more important criminals to go after,” he said. Trump has said Dreamers “have nothing to worry about,” but Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week said immigrants who arrived in the United States as children were “subject to being deported.” On Sunday, Sessions …

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump said on Sunday he expected Mexico to pay for the wall he has promised to build along the southern border, resuscitating a campaign promise that roiled U.S. relations with Mexico in the first week of his presidency. “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall,” Trump said in a Twitter post. Trump returned to his Mexico demand on a morning in which he simultaneously tried to pressure congressional Democrats to include funding for the border wall in must-pass spending legislation needed to keep the U.S. government open beyond Friday. In Mexico City, a spokesman for the foreign ministry had no immediate comment on Trump’s wall payment comment. The Republican president’s demand that Mexico pay for the border wall triggered a diplomatic crisis with the southern U.S. neighbor during the first week of his presidency. …

WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the Treasury Department on Friday to examine two powers given to regulators to police large financial companies following the 2008 financial crisis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. In his first visit to the Treasury building, Trump signed two memos that analysts view as largely affirming existing priorities he has outlined. One temporarily bars regulators from identifying new non-bank financial institutions as “systemically important financial institutions,” or SIFIs, while also ordering a review of this process, Mnuchin said in a briefing with reporters. SIFIs face added regulatory oversight and must hold more capital as a buffer against losses to safeguard against risk to the financial system. The other memo directs regulators to temporarily halt the use of “orderly liquidation authority” to dissolve troubled financial institutions unless the president directs it in an emergency. Trump will order a review of this as well, Mnuchin said. Still, the government has never attempted …

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