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Trump Blames Democrats For House GOP Pulling Healthcare Bill

 

Caroline Linton

President Trump said Friday that “both parties can do better” after the vote on the GOP health care bill was abruptly canceled in the House after it seemed likely it did not have enough support to pass.

“Perhaps the best thing that could happen is exactly what happened today,” Mr. Trump said in a news conference in the Oval Office.

The vote on the American Health Care Act, originally scheduled Thursday but then pushed to Friday after failing to gain conservative support, was canceled after it appeared that Republicans had failed to get enough support from within their own party for it to pass. House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted Friday that the GOP “came up short.”

Mr. Trump and Ryan already pushed to blaming Democrats, with Mr. Trump saying “we had no Democrat support” and Ryan saying that “moving from opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains.”

President Donald Trump, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, left, and Vice President Mike Pence, meets with members of the media regarding the health care overhaul bill, Friday, March 24, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.: trump-health-care-vote-2017-3-24.jpg                  © AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais trump-health-care-vote-2017-3-24.jpg

“I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare,” Mr. Trump said. “They own it.  Hundred percent own it.  And this is not a Republican healthcare, this is not anything but a Democrat healthcare and they have Obamacare for a little while longer until it ceases to exist, which it will at some point in the near future.”

Ryan said that Obamacare will “remain the law of the land” until it is replaced.

Mr. Trump insisted that he never said  “repeal and replace within 64 days” on the campaign trail.

“I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode,” Mr. Trump said. “It is exploding right now.”

Mr. Trump said that in this scenario, perhaps then there will bipartisan support for a “truly great health care bill.”

AP

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House Republican Leaders Abruptly Pull Their Rewrite Of The Healthcare Bill

 

Robert Costa, Mike DeBonis and Ed O’Keefe

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. pauses during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 24, 2017. Republican leaders have abruptly pulled their troubled health care overhaul bill off the House floor, short of votes and eager to avoid a humiliating defeat for President Donald Trump and GOP leaders.© AP Photo/Andrew Harnik House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. pauses during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 24, 2017. Republican leaders have abruptly pulled their troubled health care overhaul bill off the House floor…  

House Republican leaders abruptly pulled a rewrite of the nation’s health-care system from consideration on Friday, a dramatic defeat for President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that leaves a major campaign promise unfilled and casts doubt on the Republican Party’s ability to govern.

In addition to leaving the Affordable Care Act in place, the news also raises questions about the GOP’s ability to advance other high-stakes agenda items, including tax reform and infrastructure spending. Ryan is still without a signature achievement as speaker — and the defeat undermines Trump’s image as a skilled dealmaker willing to strike compromises to push his agenda forward.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump deflected any responsibility for the setback and blamed Democrats instead.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy so we pulled it,” he said.

“I don’t blame Paul,” Trump said, referring to Ryan.

In a news conference shortly after the decision, Ryan conceded that his party “came up short.”

Trump said he would not ask Republican leaders to reintroduce the legislation in the coming weeks. Instead, he said he would wait for the current law encounter problems, believing that Democrats will want to work with the White House to make changes.

“As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us, we won’t have to come to them,” he said.

“The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes they come to us and we make one beautiful deal for the people.”

Trump said he had no problem waiting for Democrats to seek cooperation with Republicans on health-care.

“I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days,” he said.

In fact, Trump said repeatedly as a candidate and before his inauguration that he would work to repeal the ACA on his first day in office. And congressional Republicans have spent the last seven years campaigning to undo the law.

Democrats, completely sidelined as Republicans quarreled among themselves, quickly disputed Trump’s accusations.

“The blame falls with President Trump and with the Republicans,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

“So much for the art of the deal,” he added.

At the Capitol, a deflated Ryan said he would confer with fellow Republicans in the coming days about how to proceed, but he warned that “we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains. We’re feeling those growing pains today,” he told reporters at a news conference covered by at least 20 television cameras.

“This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard,” he added. “All of us, all of us — myself included — will need to time to reflect on how we got to this moment.”

The dramatic decision stunned legislators who have spent the last several years crafting proposals to repeal former president Barack Obama’s top domestic policy victory. Some were near tears exiting a meeting where Ryan announced his decision.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who wrote much of the legislation under consideration on Friday, told reporters the proposal is “Dead. DOA.”

“We’re done with health care this year,” added Rep. Bill Flores (R-Tex.).

Asked what would happen to the ACA, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla) said, “It’s the law of the land.”

Asked if Ryan had made the correct decision, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), said “As long as they’re willing to go to work Monday.”

Before the decision, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) said that Friday would have been the “first big vote in the presidency of Donald Trump. I think it’s a statement, not just about him and the administration, but about the Republican Party and where we’re headed.”

“So much about political power is about perception. And if the perception is that you can’t get your first big initiative done, then that hurts the perceptions down the road about your ability to get other big things done,” Byrne said.

Ryan pulled the bill just a few hours after visiting the White House to warn Trump that despite days of intense negotiations and sales pitches to skeptical members, the legislation lacked the votes to pass.

Trump had personally lobbied 120 lawmakers, either in person or on the phone, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Friday.

The president had “left everything on the field,” Spicer said.

No matter what happens, the White House did not think that defeat would slow other parts of Trump’s agenda including tax reform and immigration reform, Spicer added.

Vice President Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price also made a last-ditch attempt to win over members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, huddling with them at midday at the Capitol Hill Club, a GOP social hall next door to the headquarters of the Republican National Committee. All three exited the meeting quickly without taking questions.

Signs of trouble across the Republican spectrum were evident early Friday.

In one stunning defection, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) announced at midday that the health care bill is “currently unacceptable” and that changes made late Thursday to placate conservatives “raise serious coverage and cost issues.”

Other members, including Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) — who had met with Trump on Wednesday night — said he would vote against the bill. So did Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), a longtime Ryan ally who represents a competitive Northern Virginia congressional district.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a Freedom Caucus member, was one of six Republicans who voted against a procedural resolution bringing the bill to the floor on Friday morning.

“You know what? I came here to do health care right,” said Gosar, a dentist. “This is one chance we that can get one-sixth of our GDP done right. It starts with here.”

At the heart of the argument made by GOP leaders to skeptical members: keeping the Affordable Care Act is a worse outcome than passing a potentially flawed replacement. That worked with only some Republicans.

Rep. Joe Barton, a Freedom Caucus member who said he would have voted for the bill, rejected the idea that his caucus was to blame.

“I thought we were constructive,” he said. “Because of the sensitivity of the issue, some of the normal compromise mechanism didn’t quite get us there. That doesn’t mean they won’t get us there some time in this Congress.”

At the White House on Friday morning, Trump had projected confidence as he answered shouted questions following an announcement of a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a revived project that the president said would create jobs.

Asked by a reporter what he would do if the bill fails, Trump — seated at his Oval Office desk — shrugged and said: “We’ll see what happens.”

On Twitter, Trump said that “After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!”

When formal debate on the bill began on Friday morning, top leaders used a procedural vote to gauge last-minute support. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was seen conferring with Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), a key holdout. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) sat in the row behind them cajoling Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), another moderate who has yet to announce what he plans to do.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the Freedom Caucus, did not respond to requests for comment on Friday about his plans.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo), a caucus member who said before the election that minor losses in the House Republican ranks would increase conservative clout, said he remained undecided.

“I’m examining life experiences,” he said. Asked to explain what he meant, he said he was joking.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a moderate who had expressed qualms as recently as Tuesday, when he was singled out by Trump inside a private meeting of House Republicans, said he had all but decided to vote for the bill.

“I’m not one they should worry about,” he said.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), one of Trump’s most ardent congressional supporters, said he remained opposed to the legislation because it made more political sense to keep current law than to start rewriting it.

“A no vote means we save Donald Trump from a Democratic majority in 2019,” Gohmert said. “If this passes, then Obamacare stays.”

Republican leaders had introduced several tweaks intended to appeal to skeptics on either ideological flank. The amendment looks to appease moderates by adding $15 billion to a flexible fund for states to pay for maternity, mental health and substance abuse programs under Medicaid. That money adds to an existing $85 billion pot of money created by leaders earlier in the week.

The amendment attempted to appease conservatives by allowing states to determine the minimum standards for health insurance plans. It would allow insurers to drop basic coverage, like maternity care and preventative screenings, in order to cut premium rates.

Several members from both groups said the new additions were helpful but did not go far enough to win their votes. Moderate Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) told reporters Friday that he worries the bill still does not give states enough flexibility.

“I think there’s trouble with a significant number,” he said.   (The Washington Post)

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Ex-Pennsylvania State President Convicted Over Child-Sex Scandal

 

MARK SCOLFORO
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2012, file photo, Former Penn State president Graham Spanier arrives before entering a judge's office in Harrisburg, Pa. Spanier initiated a libel and defamation case Thursday, July 11, 2013, against Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who a year ago produced a report for the school that was highly critical of Spanier's role in the child sex abuse scandal involving longtime assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. (AP Photo/Jason Minick, File)© (AP Photo/Jason Minick, Fil FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2012, file photo, Former Penn State president Graham Spanier arrives before entering a judge’s office in Harrisburg, Pa. Spanier initiated a libel and defamation case Thursday, July 11, 2013, against Louis Freeh… Pennsylvania 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State President Graham Spanier was convicted Friday of hushing up child sexual abuse allegations in 2001 against Jerry Sandusky, whose arrest a decade later blew up into a major scandal for the university and led to the firing of beloved football coach Joe Paterno.

The jury found Spanier guilty of one misdemeanor count of child endangerment over his handling of a complaint against the retired assistant football coach but acquitted him of conspiracy and a second child endangerment count.

Spanier, 68, showed no emotion when the verdict was read after 13 hours of deliberations. He could get up to five years in prison. His lawyer said he will appeal.

The trial centered on how Spanier and two other university administrators handled a complaint by graduate coaching assistant Mike McQueary, who said he reported seeing Sandusky sexually molesting a boy in a team shower in 2001. The three officials told Sandusky he could not bring children onto the campus anymore but did not report the matter to police or child welfare authorities.

Sandusky was not arrested until 2011, after an anonymous tip led prosecutors to investigate the shower incident. He was convicted the next year of sexually abusing 10 boys and is serving 10 to 30 years behind bars. At least four victims at Sandusky’s trial said they were molested after 2001.

“Evil in the form of Jerry Sandusky was allowed to run wild,” prosecutor Patrick Schulte told the jury.

The scandal sent shockwaves through Penn State. It led to the ouster of both Spanier and Paterno and resulted in the school paying out more than $90 million to settle claims by over 30 Sandusky accusers. In addition, the NCAA fined Penn State $48 million and briefly erased more than 100 of Paterno’s football victories from the record books.

The Hall of Fame coach was never charged with a crime. He died of cancer in 2012 at age 85.

Another prosecutor, Laura Ditka, said Spanier was “convicted for all the children who came to Penn State after what Mike McQueary saw that night.”

Two of Spanier’s former lieutenants, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges a week ago and testified against Spanier. But all three denied they were told the encounter in the shower was sexual in nature.

“The verdict, their words and pleas indicate a profound failure of leadership,” Penn State said in a statement. “And while we cannot undo the past, we have re-dedicated ourselves and our university to act always with the highest integrity, in affirming the shared values of our community.”

The prosecution’s key evidence included notes and email exchanges in which the three debated what to do after McQueary’s report.

Spanier approved a plan to tell the retired coach to stop bringing children to athletic facilities and to inform The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk youth that Sandusky founded.

At one point, the administrators planned to inform the state Department of Public Welfare. Instead, Spanier approved putting that on hold, and the agency was never contacted. That decision formed the heart of the case against him.

“The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it,” Spanier told Curley and Schultz in 2001 in the email exchange. He called the plan “humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”

Spanier’s attorney, Sam Silver, said the case involved judgment calls by the administrators. He said there was no evidence of a crime by Spanier.

Ditka said during closing arguments that the three university leaders wanted to protect the university’s reputation at the expense of children.

“They took a gamble,” she told the jury. “They weren’t playing with dice. They were playing with kids.”

A report commissioned by the university and conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno and the three others hushed up the allegations against Sandusky for fear of bad publicity.

AP

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GOP Healthcare Bill: Trump, Ryan Confer At The White House Amind Opposition

Mike DeBonis, Sean Sullivan, Ed O’Keefe

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) headed to the White House midday to brief President Trump on an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system, amid mounting evidence that enough House Republican would spurn their pitches and send the bill to defeat.In one stunning defection, Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) announced at midday that the health care bill is “currently unacceptable” and that changes made late Thursday to placate conservatives “raise serious coverage and cost issues.”

“We need to get this right for all Americans,” he said.

Other members who had raised concerns about the bill — both conservative and moderate — said the late changes had done nothing to change their minds.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a Freedom Caucus member, was one of six Republicans who voted against a procedural resolution bringing the bill to the floor.

“You know what? I came here to do health care right,” said Gosar, a dentist. “This is one chance we that can get one-sixth of our GDP done right. It starts with here.”

Still, the sales pitches from Trump and Ryan appeared to be having some effect. At least three lawmakers who had previously pledged to vote against the bill indicated that they had changed their minds.

At the heart of the argument: Keeping the Affordable Care Act is a worse outcome than passing a potentially flawed replacement.

“You want to score a touchdown, but sometimes, on the fourth down, you kick a field goal,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the longest-serving member of Congress in the Freedom Caucus. “The choice is yes or no. I’m not going to vote no and keep Obamacare. That’d be a stupid damn vote.”

Earlier Friday, a panel that sets rules for House floor debate approved the revised legislation, sending it to the full House for several hours of debate. Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to try to close the deal.

“After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Asked by a reporter Friday morning what he would do if the bill fails, Trump shrugged and said: “We’ll see what happens.”

Trump also said he didn’t feel the process had been rushed and that Ryan should remain as speaker if the bill fails.

Trump briefly answered shouted questions at the White House after an announcement of a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a revived project that the president touted as creating jobs.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) walks to a meeting Thursday with the GOP about the American Health Care Act trying to drum up support along with Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s director of the Office fo Management and Budget.© Katherine Frey/The Washington Post House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) walks to a meeting Thursday with the GOP about the American Health Care Act trying to drum up support along with Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s director of the…

 

In a last-ditch attempt to force a vote, Trump dispatched White House budget director Mick Mulvaney to the U.S. Capitol on Thursday night to tell rank-and-file Republicans in a closed-door meeting that he was done negotiating .

It was a high-risk gamble for Trump and Ryan, who have invested significant political capital trying to pass legislation that would replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. For Trump, who campaigned as a skilled negotiator capable of forging a good deal on behalf of Americans, it could either vindicate or undercut one of his signature claims.

Leaders were focused especially on winning over members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, most of whom have so far refused to back the bill. Asked if GOP leaders had secured the votes early Friday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) chuckled at a reporter: “You guys ask me the same question every day. You know I don’t talk about Fight Club.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the caucus, said late Thursday that he was leaning against the legislation. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday morning.

And Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), a caucus member who had been a hard “no” earlier in the week, told NPR on Friday morning that he could potentially vote yes.

“If I think that premiums are going to come down enough . . . I could be a yes,” Harris said, citing a letter Trump sent Thursday to Freedom Caucus members outlining administrative steps he could take to address that issue. “But my yardstick is, will premiums come down enough under these actions?”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a moderate who had expressed qualms as recently as Tuesday, when he was singled out by Trump inside a private meeting of House Republicans, said he had all but decided to vote for the bill.

“I’m not one they should worry about,” he said.

King said Trump and GOP leaders had a powerful closing argument, making members choose between the Republican bill and the ACA.

“What’s the alternative?” he said. “If it’s this or stick with Obamacare, it’s a pretty heavy decision to make if you’re that opposed to Obamacare.”

But Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), one of Trump’s most ardent congressional supporters, said he remained opposed to the legislation because it made more political sense to keep current law than to start rewriting it.

“A no vote means we save Donald Trump from a Democratic majority in 2019,” Gohmert said. “If this passes, then Obamacare stays.”

Of his colleagues in the Freedom Caucus, Gohmert said: “Most of them are gonna vote no, and will save the Trump presidency from this lie that they have been handed.”

In another tweet on Friday, Trump homed in on the Freedom Caucus, saying, “The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!”

With 237 House Republicans, party leaders can afford only 21 or 22 defections, depending on how many Democrats are present on Friday. If the measure fails, it would be a defeat for Trump in his first effort to help pass major legislation. An unsuccessful vote could also jeopardize other items on his wish list, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure spending.

No matter what happens in the House, the ultimate fate of the legislation hinges on the Senate. There are at least a dozen skeptics of the bill among Senate Republicans, who maintain a slim 52-to-48 advantage, and many of them want to maintain some of the current law’s more generous spending components.

Defeat of the legislation would mean that Obamacare — something that congressional Republicans have railed against for seven years — would remain in place.

Republicans convened a Rules Committee hearing at the crack of dawn Friday, where they sought to sign off on the final changes they made to the bill the previous day. In a snug room near the House chamber, the meeting quickly turned into a tense partisan clash, as Democrats expressed their disgust with the measure and Republicans sought to defend their legislation.

“You never intended for there to be a health plan of consequence for this nation,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), raising his voice as he spoke.

He added: “What we will have done is helped rich people. And we will not have helped poor people.”

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the bill’s architects, forcefully rejected Hastings’s claim during testimony before the rules panel, saying he was “offended” by the remark. He tried tempering the tone of his exchange with Hastings, who wouldn’t oblige.

“I’m mad as hell about what you all are doing!” the Democrat exclaimed.

Later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the GOP bill would levy an “age tax” and “veterans tax” in order to lower taxes on the richest Americans.

“It’s in their DNA,” she told reporters. “They can’t help themselves.”

President Donald Trump pauses in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Friday, March 24, 2017, during an announcement on the approval of a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, clearing the way for the $8 billion project. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci): Late Thursday, President Trump issued an ultimatum to lawmakers opposing the health care overhaul.        © The Associated Press Late Thursday, President Trump issued an ultimatum to                             lawmakers opposing the health care overhaul.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) added that some Republicans were likely “ashamed” by a process that had been defined by “backroom deals,” turning an old Republican attack back onto the majority.

“For what? To keep a seven-year old campaign promise?” said Crowley. “So Trump doesn’t send a mean tweet about you? That’s not leadership; that’s politics.”

On Thursday night, a rowdy group of Republicans burst out of their closed-door meeting like explorers on a quest for glory. “Burn the ships,” one Republican shouted to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), invoking the command that Hernan Cortes, the Spanish conquistador, gave his men upon landing in Mexico in 1519.

The message was clear, to the GOP leaders now and the Spaniards in 1519, there was no turning back.

“Only way to do it,” Scalise told a packed elevator of lawmakers.

After the meeting, and during an unrelated late-night vote, Ryan got down on a knee to plead with Rep. Don Young, an 83-year-old from Alaska who is the longest-serving Republican in Congress and remains undecided.

When the speaker finished with Young, he spent about 10 minutes in an animated discussion with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), one of the bill’s most outspoken critics. At one point, the speaker took his own arms and held them up, his hands at face level, then slowly lowered them to his waist — presumably trying to demonstrate his belief that the bill will lower costs.

Ryan had intended to bring up his plan for a vote Thursday, but that plan unraveled after Freedom Caucus members rejected Trump’s offer to strip a key set of mandates from the nation’s current health-care law. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon trooped up to Ryan’s office to make the case personally, warning recalcitrant conservatives that the only alternative would be to accept the ACA as the law of the land.

By evening, leaders adopted the proposed change conservatives had rebuffed earlier, eliminating the law’s “essential benefits” that insurers must offer under the ACA in an effort to reduce premium costs. Those benefits include covering mental-health treatment, wellness visits, and maternity and newborn care, and states would have the option of adding them back next year.

They also added one sweetener for moderates, a six-year delay in repealing a 0.9 percent additional Medicare tax on high-income Americans who earn above $200,000 if filing individually, or $250,000 if married and filing jointly. By keeping the tax in place, GOP leaders could provide an additional $15 billion to the states to help cover treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as maternity and infant care.

Meanwhile, a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office released Thursday evening showed that changes House leaders made to the bill Monday do not alter a projection that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under the bill. In addition, the updated bill would cut the deficit by $150 billion over the next decade — nearly $200 billion less than the earlier version of the legislation.

AP

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American From Utah Killed In London Terror Attack Was Hit On Bridge

 

By HALLIE GOLDEN and SALLY HO

WEST BOUNTIFUL, Utah — A Utah couple was enjoying the final day of their European trip to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary when they were among the crowd of people on London’s Westminster Bridge who were struck by an SUV.Kurt W. Cochran was one of four victims killed and his wife, Melissa Cochran, was among dozens who were injured, according to a statement issued Thursday by the family through a Mormon church spokesman. The couple was visiting Melissa Cochran’s parents who were serving a church mission in London.

Authorities on Thursday identified a 52-year-old British man as the person who mowed down the Cochrans and other pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism — but was not currently on a terrorism watch list.

Pictures on Kurt Cochran’s Facebook page show the couple enjoying their sightseeing travels through Europe prior to the tragic events. In one post, there are pictures of German architecture beneath a caption, “Trier Germany. Another WOW!” In another, he is shown smiling and holding a German beer under the caption, “After a long day of sightseeing.”

Steve Hatch, 46, said he just talked with Kurt Cochran online about how much fun the couple was having on the trip.

Family and friends said they’re heartbroken over the loss of a loving husband and father who loved music.

For the last decade, the couple ran a recording studio in their basement where he helped musicians develop their talents. The couple lives in a middle class neighborhood with small, older homes arranged on both sides of a quiet road in a bedroom community just outside Salt Lake City.

Bret Layton started crying while talking about his longtime friend and business associate outside Cochran’s house where he went Thursday to check on things. Layton said he ran the recording studio with Kurt Cochran.

This undated photo provided by Clint Payne shows his sister, Melissa, and her husband, Kurt Cochran. A statement from the Mormon church issued Thursday, March 23, 2017, on behalf of relatives said Kurt Cochran was among those killed in the London attack Wednesday and Melissa was seriously injured. (Courtesy of Clint Payne via AP)© The Associated Press This undated photo provided by Clint Payne shows his sister, Melissa, and her husband, Kurt Cochran. A statement from the Mormon church issued Thursday, March 23, 2017, on behalf of relatives said Kurt Cochran was among…

 

“He’s one of those guys: You just know you want him to be your friend within five minutes… He was just an overall good guy to everybody,” Layton said.

Melissa Cochran’s brother, Clint Payne, said through a verified GoFundMe account webpage that the couple was among the first hit by a vehicle on the Westminster Bridge.

“Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our sister and daughter, Melissa,” the statement said.

Melissa Cochran is still hospitalized. She suffered a broken leg, broken rib and a cut and bruises, said friend Mike Murphy.

Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Guitars in Bountiful, said Kurt Cochran would come into his shop regularly to buy recording equipment for his basement studio where he tried to help young bands get started by charging only a small fee for them to use the studio.

“He loved music,” Murphy said. “He was always around when there were music things going on.”

Emma Dugal, executive director of Bountiful Davis Art Center, said the couple has been volunteering at the organization’s annual summer arts festival for years. Calling what happened devastating, she said they both are very warm, friendly people and as a couple were inseparable.

She said Cochran’s death will have a huge impact on the music community, especially for young musicians.

“I know of musicians who lacked confidence and who weren’t sure how they wanted to present their talent, but Kurt encouraged them and got them out into performing, and has just made a huge difference in so many people’s lives,” Dugal said.

Kurt Cochran was a good dad and likable guy who will be missed dearly by his two adult sons, said Danny Wiley, the step-father to Cochran’s sons. Wiley said he and Cochran always got along well. He says Cochran loved skateboarding and playing basketball with his sons.

“It’s devastating,” Wiley said. “He was a good guy, everybody liked him. He always had a smile on his face.”

The London attack comes exactly one year after four Mormon missionaries — three from Utah — were seriously injured in a Brussels airport bombing on March 22, 2016.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump and Utah leaders expressed their sympathies and pointed to terrorism.

President Trump Tweeted: “A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack. My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends.”

AP

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US Adds 400,000 Millionaire Households, Setting Record

 

Robert Frank

The number of millionaire households in America increased by 400,000 in 2016, reaching a record of 10.8 million, according to a new study.Since the 2008 financial crisis, the number of millionaire households has grown every year, adding a total of 4 million millionaire households, according to Spectrem Group, the wealth research firm. The stats mean that more than one out of every 10 households in America is worth $1 million or more.

Spectrem defines millionaire households as those households with $1 million or more in investable assets, not including a primary residence.

The number of multimillionaire households has also grown. There are now 1.4 million households worth $5 million or more and 156,000 households worth $25 million or more.

George Walper, president of Spectrem Group, said the growth in millionaires last year was due in part to the stock-market run-up after the election.

“People were hesitant before the election, but once the election was over, we’ve seen these markets reach record highs and that would increase the value of people’s investments, ” Walper said.

He said that the gains were more incremental than sudden, with large groups of affluent and wealthy Americans gradually seeing their portfolios and assets gain value.

“It’s more of an escalator than an elevator,” he said. “You’re seeing people worth maybe $900,000 move into the million category, rather than someone going from $100,000 to $26 million.”

Walper said he expects 2017 to set another record, provided that markets remain stable or rise.

“If Trump’s policies get implemented and it has a positive effect on markets, I think we could have a similar growth and record next year,” he said.                     (CNBC)

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There Is ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ On Trump Camp, Russia-Schiff

 

Kailani Koenig

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee claimed Wednesday evening that he has seen “more than circumstantial evidence” that associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia while the Kremlin attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Ranking Member on the committee, was asked by Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press Daily” whether or not he only has a circumstantial case.

“Actually no, Chuck,” he said. “I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.”

Questioned whether or not he has seen direct evidence of collusion, Schiff responded, “I don’t want to get into specifics but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation.”

This is a shift from Sunday’s “Meet the Press” interview, when Schiff only went as far as to say that there was circumstantial evidence of collusion and “direct evidence” of deception.

The Trump campaign and the White House have repeatedly denied that Trump’s associates were at all connected to any activities related to Russia’s attempts to influence the last election.

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia had been ongoing since July. Comey said the probe was included in the agency’s investigation into what the U.S. intelligence community concluded was an attempt by Russia to interfere with the 2016 election with the purpose of helping Trump win.

Image: Sens. Blumenthal, Murphy, And Rep. Schiff Discuss Gun Industry Legislation© Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) speaks at news conference on Jan, 27 in Washington, D.C. \ Image: Sens. Blumenthal, Murphy, And Rep. Schiff Discuss Gun Industry Legislation

 

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are conducting their own investigations.

Two weeks ago on “Meet The Press,” James Clapper, the former Director of Intelligence under President Obama, said that to his knowledge, there was no evidence of collusion between Moscow and Trump associates. Clapper oversaw the work of U.S. intelligence agencies through January 20th.

On Wednesday, Schiff told Todd of Clapper’s statements, “All I can tell you is reviewing the evidence that I have, I don’t think you can conclude that at all — far from it.”               (NBC News)

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