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US Senate Republicans Pass Budget Bill 

With a vote of 51 to 49, Republicans in the U.S. Senate have approved a $4 trillion budget that could pave the way for U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan for what he has called “massive tax cuts and reform.” Senate Republicans were under pressure to approve the tax cut measure before next year’s midterm elections, after failing to pass a Trump-supported effort to dismantle the nation’s health care law, commonly known as Obamacare. The White House hailed the bill’s passage, saying it “creates a pathway to unleash the potential of…

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Kelly ‘Stunned, Broken-hearted’ Over Trump Fallen Soldier Controversy

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly defended President Donald Trump’s handling of the deaths of U.S. service members, and delivered an intense emotional rebuke to those he accused of politicizing the issue. Speaking at a White House press briefing Thursday, Kelly said he was “stunned” when U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson accused Trump of being insensitive to the mother of a fallen soldier during a recent phone call. “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. It stuns me,” said Kelly. The retired…

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US Military Investigating Deaths of Soldiers in Niger Ambush

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Thursday the military is investigating the deaths of four American soldiers in Niger earlier this month at the hands of Islamic jihadists. Mattis told reporters “a full investigation is underway” into the incident, as is the case any time a U.S. service member is killed, and the military would release any new information it receives in a timely fashion. “We, in the Department of Defense, like to know what we’re talking about before we talk,” Mattis said. “We do not have all the…

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Trump Nearly Certain Senate Republicans Have Enough Votes to Pass Budget Bill

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is nearly certain Senate Republican leaders have secured enough support to pass a budget bill that would help them approve tax legislation. “Republicans are going for the big Budget approval today, first step toward massive tax cuts. I think we have the votes, but who knows?,” Trump tweeted. Later Thursday, Trump told reporters at the White House, “I think we have the votes for the budget, which will be phase one of our massive tax cuts and reform.” The Senate is scheduled to…

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Twitter, Facebook Lawyers to Testify Before Congress on Russia Election Meddling

Lawyers for the social media companies Twitter and Facebook will testify next month at hearings before congressional committees investigating what, if any, effect Russian trolls may have had on the 2016 election. Google also will send a representative to the hearings, though it has not yet said who would represent the company. Facebook and Twitter will send their general counsels, Colin Stretch and Sean Edgett, respectively. The lawyers will testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees — two of the congressional panels searching for evidence that Russia sought to…

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Senate Committee May Subpoena White House Cyber Adviser

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Thursday they may subpoena the senior White House cybersecurity adviser after the administration blocked him from testifying during a hearing. The White House declined to allow Rob Joyce, a member of the National Security Council, to testify at the hearing under the rules of executive privilege, which shields employees of the executive branch from disclosing certain information. While the move by Trump’s White House is consistent with precedents set by past administrations, Sen. John McCain, committee chairman and frequent critic of President…

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Tillerson to Attend First Meeting Between Saudis, Iraqis

The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend the first meeting next week between the Saudi Arabian and Iraqi governments that are aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries. While in Riyadh, Tillerson will “meet with various Saudi leaders to discuss the conflict in Yemen, the ongoing Gulf dispute, Iran, and a number of other important and regional and bilateral issues,” the statement reads. The meeting will be held in the Saudi capital of Riyadh four months after the two countries signed an…

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Some Families Reportedly Don’t Support Trump’s Claim He Phones All Grieving Families

U.S. President Donald Trump said recently he reaches out to all families of those who died in military service, but some relatives of the fallen do not support his claim. Forty-three service members have been killed since Trump became president in January, according to the Associated Press. Of those families who agreed to speak, about nine said they had contact with the president while nine others said they had not. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Trump promised Chris Baldridge of Zebulon, North Carolina, $25,000 of his own money when…

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US Court OKs Undocumented Teen’s Abortion

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to allow an undocumented teenager, who is in detention in south Texas, to have an abortion. Jane Doe, as she is known in court to protect her privacy, has been detained in a refugee shelter in Brownsville, Texas, since Sept. 11, when she was apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. While Doe, 17, obtained required permission from a state judge to carry out the abortion, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has refused to grant her permission to leave the shelter for the…

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Puerto Rico Still Struggling One Month After Hurricane Maria

One month after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, the basic necessities — food, water and power — are still in short supply on the island.  And the weather woes continue for the U.S. territory. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for a large part of the island Wednesday, including San Juan and the vicinity. Puerto Rico has had steady rain all week, and the NWS warned that with the soil saturated, many rivers and streams could overflow their banks if the heavy rains continue.  Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million…

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