Trump turns again to Democrats; Senate takes up disaster relief
Trump turns again to Democrats; Senate takes up disaster relief
The Senate was expected to vote on Thursday afternoon on the deal Trump hammered out with Democrats on Wednesday. The bill included raising the limit on federal borrowing, extending current government funding and providing disaster relief for hurricane victims.
But any bill passed by the Senate would have to go back to the House of Representatives for final approval, and the measure faced stiff opposition from House conservatives who traditionally favor strict curbs on federal spending.
The leadership of the largest group of House Republican conservatives came out against it on Thursday, saying it meant more federal spending without fiscal reforms.
After blindsiding Republican leaders with the deal with Democrats on fiscal issues, Trump called top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on Thursday morning, along with the Republican congressional leaders, the White House said.
The Washington Post said that he, Schumer and Pelosi had agreed to work toward a permanent repeal of the requirement for Congress to repeatedly raise the debt ceiling.
Any measure would still have to pass the House and the Senate, both controlled by Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday he opposes any effort to do away with the role of Congress in approving increases to the debt limit.
Dreamers and Democrats
On the issue of the 800,000 so-called Dreamers, Pelosi said Trump made clear he wants Congress to act to address what happens to them.
On Tuesday, the president rescinded a program created by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that protected them from deportation and provided them work permits. But Trump gave Congress six months to work on an alternative by delaying implementation until March.
Democrats want Congress to pass legislation addressing the Dreamers without other issues attached, but Pelosi did not rule out including border security measures that Trump and Ryan want included.
“I am praying that the president really cares about the Dreamers, or knows that he should care about the Dreamers, and that we’re going to pass this bill. And we want to do it as soon as possible to strike while the iron is hot, because public opinion is so much in favor,” Pelosi told reporters.
Pelosi added that Trump “probably wants some border enforcement and we have a responsibility to secure our borders,” but said that does not include his planned wall along the US-Mexico border, which is opposed by many Democrats.
Pelosi said she told Trump the Dreamers needed his assurance his action did not set up a six-month period of roundup for deportation. Trump subsequently wrote on Twitter, “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about — No action!“
Schumer said he hoped Wednesday’s agreement with Trump was “a ray of hope for both parties coming together on the big issues,” and said Congress should turn to resolving the Dreamers issue and fixing the health care system.
No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn was dismissive of Schumer’s demand that a Dreamers measure with nothing attached be put on the Senate floor.
The House approved a $7.8 billion disaster relief measure on Wednesday to help rebuild Texas and Louisiana from the destruction of Hurricane Harvey. Senate negotiators, eyeing urgent requests from Florida officials who are expecting heavy damage from Hurricane Irma, nearly doubled that sum, cobbling together a $15.2 billion emergency spending bill.
Additionally, the Senate bill would continue current government funding, which otherwise would expire on Sept. 30 at the end of the fiscal year, until Dec. 8. This move would avoid a possible government shutdown as the next fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.
The measure would also give the US Treasury Department renewed ability to borrow money, with an extension of the statutory debt limit until Dec. 8.
With Democrats typically united against him, Trump has failed to win passage of any major legislation since taking office in January, despite Republican control of Congress. His deal with Pelosi and Schumer on Wednesday drew the ire of some conservative groups and Republican hard-liners.
Some conservative groups have objected to coupling a debt-limit increase with the emergency funds, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, moved ahead with the bill at Trump’s urging.
“The recovery effort for a record-setting storm like Harvey has strained resources to the limit already. The advance of another historic storm now makes the need for action even more urgent. So let’s work together and act on this legislation very quickly,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Afghans ignore Ghani’s appeals on poll vote
- A week after the voter registration process began, public turnout remains low.
- Between 10 and 13 million Afghans out of the country’s estimated 30 million population are eligible to vote in the parliamentary and provincial council elections.
KABUL: Afghans appear to be ignoring President Ashraf Ghani’s pleas for people to register to vote in long-delayed elections set for Oct. 20.
A week after the voter registration process began, public turnout remains low.
Between 10 and 13 million Afghans out of the country’s estimated 30 million population are eligible to vote in the parliamentary and provincial council elections.
But so far the turnout in Kabul and other major cities may be as low as 113,000, officials believe.
Anyone failing to register before the government’s deadline in two weeks will be unable to vote. Mosques and schools have been turned into voting registration centers.
“We have had only a handful of people in this center since morning,” said Inamaullah, an official in the north of the capital.
Poor security and a lack of trust in the election process are being blamed for the poor turnout.
Many people have also expressed disappointment in the government for failing to deliver on basic election promises.
The slow pace of registration forced Ghani to appeal to officials and the country’s population to register.
“Today I spoke with the governors of 34 provinces and commanders of the armed forces … to speed up the voter registration process,” the leader of the joint National Unity Government said in a statement on Thursday.
“I asked the governors to direct civil servants and their family members who are eligible to vote to take part in this critical process.”
Ghani also told the Minister of Hajj Awqaf to ensure that prayer leaders encouraged people to take part in the voter registration process.
“I have directed the relevant officials to provide women with the necessary facilities to participate in voter registration, and I instructed security forces to safeguard polling stations,” the president said.
The British ambassador to Kabul was among foreign diplomats who urged Afghans to register and vote.
“I encourage all Afghans to take this opportunity to use their democratic right to perform their civic duty,” Nick Kay said in a video message posted on social media.
Ghani and his wife, Rula Ghani, were among the first to register.
The Afghan leader even urged Taliban militants to register and campaign for the elections — a call that was rejected.