East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, December 28, 2017, Page Page 7A, Image 7

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    NATION/WORLD
Thursday, December 28, 2017
East Oregonian
Page 7A
Trump, GOP congressional leaders to plot agenda in January
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Associated Press
WEST PALM BEACH,
Fla. — Eager for more legis-
lative achievements before
Washington’s focus shifts
to the midterm elections,
President Donald Trump
plans to start the new year
by meeting with Republican
congressional leaders to plot
the 2018 legislative agenda,
the White House said.
After
returning
to
Washington from Florida,
where he is spending the
holidays, Trump will host
House Speaker Paul Ryan
of Wisconsin and Senate
Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell of Kentucky at
the rustic Camp David pres-
idential retreat in Maryland
during the weekend of Jan.
6-7.
Spokesmen for Ryan and
McConnell have confirmed
they will attend.
The powwow will follow
the recent enactment of
legislation to cut taxes,
beginning next year, for
corporations and individuals
at an estimated cost of $1.5
trillion added to the national
debt over 10 years.
The bill marked the first
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
In this Dec. 20, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump congratulates Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., while House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., looks
on during a ceremony at the White House after the final passage of tax overhaul
legislation.
big legislative achievement
for Trump and congressional
Republicans, who made
cutting taxes a must-do this
year after the Senate failed to
close the deal on another top
GOP promise: to repeal and
replace the Obama health
care law.
While the tax bill ends the
requirement that all Amer-
icans buy health insurance
or pay a fine, which is a key
component of the Affordable
Care Act, it leaves intact
other features of the health
care law. No Democrats
voted for the tax bill, which
Trump signed during a
hastily arranged White
House ceremony, without
any lawmakers present,
before he flew to Florida last
Friday.
The agenda for next year
is already lengthy, and 2018
is still a few days away.
Trump predicted in a tweet
earlier this week that Demo-
crats and Republicans will
“eventually come together”
to develop a new health care
plan. The president is also
forecasting unity between
the parties on spending to
upgrade aging roads, bridges
and other transportation. The
White House has said Trump
will unveil his long-awaited
infrastructure plan in January.
Ryan, meanwhile, has
talked about overhauling
Medicaid and Medicare and
other welfare programs, but
McConnell has signaled an
unwillingness to go that route
unless there’s Democratic
support for any changes.
Trump has also said he wants
to pursue “welfare reform”
next year because “people
are taking advantage of the
system.”
Congress,
meanwhile,
will open the year facing a
backlog from 2017.
BRIEFLY
Long lines at tax offices
as homeowners try to
beat hike
After record snow,
bitter cold ahead for
northeastern U.S.
ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Freezing temperatures
and below-zero wind chills socked much of
the northern United States on Wednesday,
even setting a record in a Minnesota city
so cold it’s called the Icebox of the Nation,
and will stay put for days to come as snow-
hardened Erie digs out from a record snowfall.
Forecasters warned of hypothermia and
frostbite from arctic air settling in over the
central U.S. and spreading east.
The National Weather Service reported
International Falls and Hibbing, Minnesota,
set record low temperatures on Wednesday
morning. International Falls, the self-
proclaimed Icebox of the Nation, plunged
to 37 degrees below zero, breaking the old
record of 32 below set in 1924. Hibbing
bottomed out at 28 below, breaking the old
record of 27 below set in 1964.
Wind chill advisories or warnings were
in effect for much of New England, northern
Pennsylvania and New York. Those places
and states in the northern Plains and Great
Lakes were projected to see highs in the teens
or single digits and lows below zero for the
rest of the week and into the new year.
The National Weather Service said wind
chills in many areas Thursday could make
temperatures feel below zero.
People in Erie, Pennsylvania, continued to
dig out from a storm that brought 34 inches of
snow on Christmas Day, smashing the daily
snowfall record for the Great Lakes city of
8 inches, and 26.5 more inches on Tuesday.
More than 65 inches total fell on the city in
just a few days.
Thousands of Puerto
Rico police owed
overtime call in sick
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) —
Thousands of police officers are calling
in sick every day in Puerto Rico, partly to
press demands for unpaid overtime pay
for hurricane recovery efforts as concerns
grow over people’s safety in a U.S. territory
struggling to restore power.
The increase in absences recently prompted
Puerto Rico Police Chief Michelle Hernandez
to recommend that U.S. National Guard
soldiers help fill the temporary vacancies.
“We have had an inordinate amount of
absences that we haven’t seen in years prior,”
she told The Associated Press, adding that
while there has been a drop in major crimes
this year, she is concerned that trend could
reverse.
However, the administration of Gov.
Ricardo Rossello on Wednesday rejected the
idea of using the National Guard.
Normally, an average of 550 police officers
are absent every day across Puerto Rico, which
has one of the largest police departments
under U.S. jurisdiction with more than 13,000
officers overall. But recently, more than 2,700
officers on average have been absent daily.
Public Affairs Secretary Ramon Rosario
said the government has already made nearly
$15 million in overtime payments since
Hurricane Maria hit more than three months
ago and $6.4 million more will be distributed
Saturday.
“There are a lot of police officers who are
not showing up,” he said. “We are trying to
address all demands to encourage these police
officers to return to their jobs.”
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) —
Homeowners are lining up in droves at
local tax collection offices, hoping for one
last chance to take advantage of a major
tax deduction before it is wiped out in the
new year.
In Hempstead, town Tax Receiver
Donald Clavin said “thousands” of people
packed his office Tuesday trying to pay their
2018 property and school taxes a year in
advance.
“This is almost chaotic,” Oyster Bay Tax
Receiver James Stefanich told Newsday. He
said homeowners began lining up in the cold
an hour before his office opened.
Similar scenes played out at tax
collection offices around the country in
places with high local taxes.
The tax overhaul signed last week by
Republican President Donald Trump puts
a new $10,000 limit on the amount of state
and local taxes people can deduct from
their income when calculating their federal
tax liability.
That new cap could translate into a
tax hike of hundreds or even thousands
of dollars in mostly wealthier, high-tax
communities in California, Connecticut,
New York, Oregon and other states.
People in some communities are trying
to effectively delay that hike for a year by
paying their 2018 taxes in advance
Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP
Soledda Hernandez stands on the roof of her car as she brushes off snow in Erie,
Pa., Wednesday. Snow continues to fall in Erie and surrounding areas that already
have seen a record amount of snow over the past few days, prompting a disaster
emergency declaration.
Syria allows some
patients to leave
besieged area
Singer files sex assault
complaint against
former Trump aide
BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s government
is allowing the evacuation of nearly
30 critically ill people from a besieged
Damascus suburb, where hundreds requiring
medical treatment have been prevented from
reaching hospitals minutes away.
The government recently tightened its
siege of eastern Ghouta, home to some
400,000 people, leading to severe shortages
of food, fuel and medicine as winter sets in.
Ingy Sedky, spokeswoman for the
International Committee of the Red Cross in
Damascus, said four patients were allowed to
leave Tuesday and 25 others are expected to
be let out in the coming hours.
It is not clear if all will be evacuated
in one batch Wednesday or over several
days. The ICRC is partnering with the local
Syrian Arab Red Crescent to handle the
evacuations. SARC spokeswoman Mona
Kurdi said the evacuees arrived in hospitals
in government-controlled Damascus, just a
few minutes’ drive away.
The Army of Islam, a prominent rebel
group in eastern Ghouta, said the critically
ill will be evacuated as part of a deal that
was conditional on it releasing an equivalent
number of captives.
“There are many more people who need
to be evacuated. We hope this will be only
the beginning,” Sedky said.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A singer and
potential congressional candidate says
she has filed a sexual assault complaint
against President Donald Trump’s former
campaign manager for hitting her twice on
her buttocks during a Washington gathering
in November.
Joy Villa, a Trump backer who wore a
“Make America Great Again” dress at the
Grammys this year, said Tuesday she plans
to meet with detectives in Washington next
week about the complaint against Corey
Lewandowski.
In a phone interview from Tampa,
Florida, Villa said she was initially reluctant
to come forward because she was worried
about any backlash. But she said she
called Washington’s Metropolitan Police
Department on Christmas Eve after a friend
who witnessed the incident spoke about it
publicly, and other friends urged her to come
forward.
“I didn’t know him at all,” Villa said
about Lewandowski. “I only knew him by
reputation. He broke my trust.”
She said she saw him at a gathering at the
Trump International Hotel on the day after
Thanksgiving, and said Lewandowski struck
her “extremely hard” even after she told him
to stop. She said she felt it was “disgusting
and shocking and demeaning.”
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The list includes agreeing
by Jan. 19 on a government
funding bill to avert a partial
government shutdown and
to boost Pentagon spending.
Lawmakers also must agree
on billions in additional aid
to help hurricane victims,
lifting the debt ceiling so
the United States can pay its
bills, extending a children’s
health insurance program
and drafting protections for
immigrants brought to the
U.S. illegally as children.
Trump tweeted earlier in
the year that he was ending
the program for the immi-
grants. He gave lawmakers
until March 5 to come up
with a legislative solution,
or the individuals will begin
to face the risk of being
deported.
Much of the work will
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Republicans shift their focus
to retaining their House and
Senate majorities in midterm
elections taking place in
November 2018. The GOP’s
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California company
has pot license,
workers still arrested
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The
confusing rollout of marijuana regulations
in California has been underscored in
Mendocino County, where local authorities
licensed a company to deliver pot only to
have state police arrest two employees who
were trying to do just that with nearly a ton
of weed.
The workers for Old Kai Distribution
were transporting the marijuana from a
farm when they were pulled over Friday
afternoon by a California Highway Patrol
officer on Highway 101 near Ukiah,
according to Joe Rogoway, an attorney
for the company. They were driving an
unmarked van and were stopped for a
traffic violation.
The workers showed the officer the
company’s county license and a manifest
for the marijuana, but the officer insisted it
was illegal, called backup and arrested the
men.
The company argues it can transport
marijuana within the county with its local
license, and county spokeswoman Sarah
Dukett.
backed that interpretation. She said Old
Kai was issued a distribution license last
week that allows it to legally transport
marijuana under two local ordinances
passed earlier this year.
The workers were cited for unlawful
transportation of marijuana and unlawful
possession for sale. Investigators also
seized all of the marijuana and the
company’s van.
“It is incomprehensible that this has
occurred,” said Rogoway, who sent a letter to
CHP demanding that the charges be dropped
and the marijuana returned to Old Kai.