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Mar 22, 2018

CNBC | China responds to Trump tariffs with proposed list of 128 US products to target on March 22, 2018. ,

China responds to Trump tariffs with proposed list of US products to target

Nyshka Chandran

President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave after an opera performance at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave after an opera performance at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017.
China's commerce ministry on Friday proposed a list of 128 U.S. products as potential retaliation targets, according to a statement on its website.
The U.S. goods, which had an import value of $3 billion in 2017, include pork, wine, fruit and steel. A 25 percent tariff could be imposed on pork imports while dried and fresh fruit imports could see a 15 percent duty, the statement said.
The list did not go into greater detail. U.S. agricultural products, particularly soybeans, have been flagged as the biggest area of potential retaliation by Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration.
Beijing will take measures against the U.S. goods in two stages if it cannot reach an agreement with Washington, the ministry said, adding that it could take legal action under World Trade Organization rules.
Asian stock markets took a dive on the news, with Japan's Nikkei index sliding as much as 3 percent in early Friday trade.
Recent U.S. trade actions severely damage the multilateral trading system and disturb the international trading order, China's commerce ministry warned, urging Washington to resolve its issues with Beijing to avoid harming the bilateral relationship.
Trump signed an executive memorandum on Thursday that will impose tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports. "This is the first of many" trade actions, the president said. The new measures will primarily target certain products in the technology sector where Beijing holds an advantage over Washington.
That followed Trump's executive order earlier this month that imposed broad duties on foreign aluminum and steel imports — an action that many believe could trigger a global trade war.
Reuters contributed to this report.

HR McMaster will resign as Trump''s national security advisor and will be replaced by John Bolton: NYT, citing sources

Jacob Pramuk

President Donald Trump, left, and H.R. McMaster, national security advisor, walk toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., June 16, 2017. Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
President Donald Trump, left, and H.R. McMaster, national security advisor, walk toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., June 16, 2017.
John Bolton, a noted foreign policy hawk, will replace H.R. McMaster as President Donald Trump's national security advisor, the latest move in an ongoing shakeup of the president's top advisors.
In a tweet Thursday, Trump said Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., will take over the post on April 9. McMaster, an Army lieutenant general, "has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend," the president wrote.
Trump tweet: I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @ AmbJohnBoltonwill be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.
In Bolton, who served as U.N. ambassador for parts of 2005 and 2006, Trump will get an advisor whom experts consider more in favor of military intervention around the globe than McMaster is. For instance, in February, he made the legal case in The Wall Street Journal for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.
In a separate statement, McMaster said he is requesting retirement from the Army this summer, after which he will "leave public service." As recently as last week, the White House denied a string of reports saying McMaster could soon leave.
McMaster's exit is just the latest departure of a top Trump administration official announced in the last two weeks. Larry Kudlow recently replaced Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council, while Mike Pompeo is set to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of State, pending Senate confirmation.
John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, waves as he leaves Trump Tower, December 2, 2016. Drew Angerer | Getty Images
John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, waves as he leaves Trump Tower, December 2, 2016.
Along with Cohn and Tillerson, McMaster was considered a more moderate voice in the White House who restrained the president's impulses. Bolton, 69, has not only taken a hawkish stance on North Korea but also advocated for scrapping the Iran nuclear deal. He served more than one stint in the State Department and was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
In an interview with Fox News on Thursday night, Bolton said the personal views he has expressed in the past are "behind me now."

Friction between McMaster and Trump

McMaster will become the second national security advisor to leave the job since Trump took office last year. He had the task of advising a president who often tweets unfiltered thoughts about delicate national security situations such as North Korea's weapons program and the Iran nuclear deal.
Since taking the position, McMaster has faced criticism from some Trump supporters who have attacked him as a "globalist." McMaster drew Trump's ire last month by saying the evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election is "incontrovertible," following more than a dozen indictments from special counsel Robert Mueller's office. Trump lashed out at McMaster in a late-night Twitter post last month.
"General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!" Trump wrote.
Foreign policy observers said Bolton taking over for McMaster will have immediate implications for policy toward both Iran and North Korea. The move is "bad news for those who were hoping the Iran deal would somehow survive," said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest.
Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group, tweeted that Bolton's hire makes the proposed meeting between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "far riskier."
Bolton's hiring, combined with Trump's tariffs against China that rattled financial markets Thursday, marks "probably the worst/biggest single day for geopolitical risk" since Eurasia Group's founding in 1998, Bremmer wrote.
Bremmer tweet
CNBC's Amanda Macias contributed to this article.

Financial Times (FT;) | CNN president calls Fox News "propaganda"

The Guardian | Environment: "Great Pacific garbage patch# sprawling with far more debris than thought

'Great Pacific garbage patch' sprawling with far more debris than thought | Environment

Oliver Milman

An enormous area of rubbish floating in the Pacific Ocean is teeming with far more debris than previously thought, heightening alarm that the world’s oceans are being increasingly choked by trillions of pieces of plastic.
The sprawling patch of detritus – spanning 1.6m sq km, (617,763 sq miles) more than twice the size of France – contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic, new research published in Nature has found. This mass of waste is up to 16 times larger than previous estimates and provides a sobering challenge to a team that will start an ambitious attempt to clean up the vast swath of the Pacific this summer.
The analysis, conducted by boat and air surveys taken over two years, found that pollution in the so-called Great Pacific garbage patch is almost exclusively plastic and is “increasing exponentially”. Microplastics, measuring less than 0.5cm (0.2in), make up the bulk of the estimated 1.8tn pieces floating in the garbage patch, which is kept in rough formation by a swirling ocean gyre.
While tiny fragments of plastic are the most numerous, nearly half of the weight of rubbish is composed of discarded fishing nets. Other items spotted in the stew of plastic include bottles, plates, buoys, ropes and even a toilet seat.
“I’ve been doing this research for a while, but it was depressing to see,” said Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer and lead author of the study. Lebreton works for the Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch-based non-profit that is aiming to tackle the garbage patch.
“There were things you just wondered how they made it into the ocean. There’s clearly an increasing influx of plastic into the garbage patch.
“We need a coordinated international effort to rethink and redesign the way we use plastics. The numbers speak for themselves. Things are getting worse and we need to act now.”
Plastic has proven a usefully durable and versatile product but has become a major environmental blight, tainting drinking water and rivers. Around 8m tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year, where it washes up on beaches or drifts out to sea where the pieces very slowly break down over hundreds of years.
Larger pieces of plastic pollution can entangle and kill marine creatures, while tiny fragments are eaten by small fish and find their way up the food chain. Plastic often attracts toxic pollutants that are then ingested and spread by marine life. It’s estimated there will be more waste plastic in the sea than fish by the year 2050.
Much of the plastic waste accumulates in five circular ocean currents – known as gyres – found around the globe. The Ocean Cleanup has pledged a “moonshot” effort to clean up half of the Great Pacific garbage patch within five years and mop up the other rubbish-strewn gyres by 2040.
The organization is developing a system of large floating barriers with underwater screens that capture and concentrate plastics into one area ready to be scooped out of the ocean. A prototype, to be launched from San Francisco this summer with the aim of spawning a clutch of devices each of which can collect five tons of waste a month, will, if successful, be followed by dozens of other boom-like systems measuring up to 2km (1.2 miles) long.
The project comes with caveats, however – its system will not catch the proliferation of microplastics measuring under 10 millimeters (0.39in) and the whole operation will require further funding from next year. Any successful clean-up may also be overwhelmed by a global surge in plastic production – a recent UK government report warned the amount of plastic in the ocean could treble within the next decade.
“There is a big mine of microplastics there coming from larger stuff that’s crumbling down, so we need to get in there quickly to clean it up,” said Joost Dubois, a spokesman for the Ocean Cleanup.
“But we also need to prevent plastic getting into the ocean in the first place. If we don’t manage the influx of plastics we will be the garbagemen of the ocean forever, which isn’t our ambition.”
The problem of plastic pollution is gaining traction in diplomatic circles, with nearly 200 countries signing on to a UN resolution last year that aims to stem the flood of plastic into the oceans. However, the agreement has no timetable and is not legally binding.
Dr Clare Steele, a California-based marine ecologist who was not involved in the research, said the study provided “great progress” in understanding the composition of the Great Pacific garbage patch.
But she regretted that while removing larger items, such as ghost fishing nets, would help wildlife, the clean-up would not deal with the colossal amount of microplastic.
“Those plankton-sized pieces of plastic are pretty difficult to clean up,” she said. “The only way is to address the source and that will require a radical shift on how we use materials, particularly single-use plastic such as cutlery, straws and bottles that are so durable.
“We need to reduce waste and come up with new, biodegradable alternatives to plastic. But one of the easiest steps is changing the way we use and discard the more ephemeral plastic products.”

CNBC | Stocks making the biggest moves after hours: Nike, Micron, KB Homes & more.

NKE, MU, KB & more

Ingrid Angulo
Nike Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Check out the companies making headlines after the bell:
Nike stock rose about 5 percent post-market after an impressive earnings report. The footwear and apparel manufacturer announced earnings per share that beat estimates by 15 cents and revenues that beat estimates by $130 million.
Micron shares plunged 7 percent before paring losses after the market closed. The semiconductor company reported its earnings post-market, beating Wall Street estimates on top and bottom lines. Micron shares have surged nearly 50 percent since January and over 130 percent over the past 12 months.
KB Home stock rose 1 percent before paring its gains in extended trading. The Detroit-based homebuilding company released its earnings report. Revenues missed analyst expectations by $2 million.
Shares of Cintas gained nearly 3 percent after the bell. The specialized business service provider reported earnings and revenue that surpassed Wall Street expectations.
HealthEquity shares fell more than 1 percent after hours, following CFO Darcy Mott's sale of 9,500 shares on Thursday afternoon. Shortly after Mott's sale, Vice President Dreier Ashley sold 71,157 shares.

Associated Press (AP):: Top Trump Ñawyer amid attacks on Mueller

McKinley Mortgage Co. LLC, et al. (Release No. LR-24076; Mar. 22, 2018)

Litigation Release No. 24076 / March 22, 2018

Securities and Exchange Commission v. McKinley Mortgage Co. LLC, et al., Case No. 2:18-cv-00616-MCE-CMK (E.D. Calif. filed March 22, 2018)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced settled charges against the operators of a real estate investment business who engaged in a years-long scheme to bilk hundreds of investors - including many retail investors - out of millions of dollars. As a result of the settlement, Defendants will be ordered to return all ill-gotten funds to investors.
The SEC alleges that from 2012 through 2016, Tobias Preston, his brother, Charles Preston, and his son, Caleb Preston, along with their investment advisory entity, McKinley Mortgage Co. LLC (McKinley), raised more than $66 million from approximately 300 investors, most of whom were retail investors, by falsely stating that investments in their fund, Alaska Financial Company III, LLC (AFC III), were secure and that AFC III earned high returns from its portfolio. In reality, AFC III has been insolvent and unable to generate sufficient revenue to meet its interest obligations for years. According to the SEC, although a portion of the raised funds were invested as promised to investors, Tobias Preston misused more than $17 million to fund personal businesses and to pay for personal expenses, and McKinley misused an additional $14 million to pay for its own operational expenses. The SEC also alleges that Charles Preston, Caleb Preston, and Accounting Manager Laura Sanford helped hide the fraud by preparing or distributing investor materials with false information and concealing information from AFC III's auditors.
The SEC's complaint charges violations of the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws. Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, all defendants agreed to permanent injunctions against future violations. McKinley Mortgage Co. LLC, Tobias Preston, Charles Preston, and Caleb Preston consented to entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining them from future violations of Sections 5 and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act), Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Caleb Preston also consented to a permanent injunction against future violations of Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act; affiliated entity McKinley Mortgage Company, LLC consented to a permanent injunction against future violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder; and Laura Sanford consented to a permanent injunction against future violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act.
The Prestons and McKinley agreed to repay the almost $30 million they improperly received that has not already been returned to AFC III and to the appointment of new management at McKinley, AFC III, and their affiliates. Tobias Preston also will be ordered to return assets he improperly acquired and to pay a $2.5 million penalty. Charles Preston and Caleb Preston agreed to pay penalties of $425,000 and $150,000, respectively. The settlements are subject to court approval.
The SEC's investigation was conducted by John P. Mogg and Crystal F. Boodoo, and supervised by Steven D. Buchholz and Erin E. Schneider of the San Francisco office. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development - Division of Banking and Securities.
# # #

CNBC | Make It on March 22, 2018: This cryptominer is growing 'cryptomatoes' with excess heat

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Daily dose of inspiration:
"In my portfolios, women hit their objectives in sales 95 percent of the time — men only 65 percent."
- Kevin O'Leary, founder of the O'Leary Financial Group and a 'Shark Tank' investor
3 things to help you make it.
This cryptocurrency miner is growing 'cryptomatoes' using excess heat from his computer setup
The concept could prove that mining for cryptocurrencies doesn't need to be as wasteful as people think.
Read More »   
‘Shark Tank’ star Kevin O’Leary: Women-run businesses make me the most money—here's why
"Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary explains why companies in his portfolio with the highest returns are women-run businesses.
Read More »
The real reason health care costs so much more in the US
A new report challenges much of the current understanding of health care in America and why it's so expensive.
Read More »

The Economist | Facebook's epic fail on March 22, 2018.

The Economist
Our cover this week looks at the biggest crisis in Facebook’s history. Its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has apologised to its users for letting their data end up with Cambridge Analytica. But he seems not to grasp that Facebook faces a wider crisis of confidence. We suggest how the firm should fix itself
Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief
Essential reads
Russia’s next generation
Vladimir Putin, fresh from victory in last Sunday’s election, seems to be at the height of his power—more a tsar than a president. But he cannot stand again in 2024 and, already, Russia’s elites are jockeying for position in the post-Putin world. We report on the generation that is central to the struggle
   Politics this week
Dozens of African leaders signed an ambitious free-trade deal. All 55 members of the African Union negotiated the agreement, but 11 did not sign, including Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy

Business this week
Amid strong demand, Dropbox raised the price of its IPO on the NASDAQ exchange to between $18 and $20 a share, from the $16 to $18 it had initially announced

The Washington Post | Congress calls on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about use of data by Cambridge Analytica on March 22, 2018.

A key congressional committee has asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on Cambridge Analytica

by Tony Romm

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
Congressional lawmakers have formally requested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testify at an upcoming hearing in response to  reports that a data analytics firm used by the Trump campaign had improperly accessed the names, “likes” and other personal information of about 50 million users on the social site.
The request officially came Thursday from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a powerful panel that oversees Facebook and its tech peers, and arrives a day after Zuckerberg said he would be “happy” to appear on Capitol Hill to address lawmakers' lingering questions about Facebook's privacy protections.
“The latest revelations regarding Facebook’s use and security of user data raises many serious consumer protection concern,” said Republican Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), the panel's chairman, and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the committee's top Democrat. “After committee staff received a briefing yesterday from Facebook officials, we felt that many questions were left unanswered.”
“Mr. Zuckerberg has stated that he would be willing to testify if he is the right person,"" they added. “We believe, as CEO of Facebook, he is the right witness to provide answers to the American people. We look forward to working with Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg to determine a date and time in the near future for a hearing before this committee.”
A spokesman for Facebook did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Lawmakers have pilloried Facebook in response to the controversy with Cambridge Analytica, a firm that aided Trump and other Republican candidates by building psychological profiles of voters. To do that, the firm commissioned an app that, when installed, siphoned information about its users as well as their friends — a practice that Facebook had allowed for years.
Tony Romm is a technology policy reporter at The Washington Post. He has spent more than eight years covering the ways that tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google navigate the corridors of government -- and the regulations that sometimes result.
Follow @tonyromm
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Owen Jones | meets Kate Hoey | 'The European Union cannot live with reform'

CNBC | Trump to Slap China with $50 billion in Tariffs over intelectual theft on March 22, 2018.

Trump to slap China with $50 billion in tariffs over intellectual property theft

Kevin Breuninger

A worker monitors the loading of containers onto a ship at the harbor in Qingdao, China. STR | AFP | Getty Images
A worker monitors the loading of containers onto a ship at the harbor in Qingdao, China.
President Donald Trump was set to sign an executive memorandum on Thursday that would impose about $50 billion in retaliatory tariffs on Chinese imports.
The new measures are designed to penalize China for trade practices that the Trump administration says involve stealing American companies' intellectual property. They will primarily target certain products in the technology sector where China holds an advantage over the U.S.
The new measures follow a so-called 301 investigation led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer into China's potentially unfair trade practices with the U.S.
Lighthizer's office will publish a list of targeted products in 15 days, and there will be a 30-day period for public comment.
The Trump administration had previously signaled that the tariffs would apply to at least $30 billion in Chinese imports, multiple news outlets reported. Trump himself has pushed for $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.
In the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday before Trump's announcement, Lighthizer outlined the Chinese products that will be subject to the new tariffs, including aeronautics, modern rail, new energy vehicles and high-tech products.
Trump will consider further actions against China in two weeks, based on the effect of the first phase of the tariffs, CNBC reported Wednesday, citing sources. The president is reportedly concerned about the severity of the new measures' impact on American universities.
The Trump administration has regularly highlighted China's $375 billion surplus with the U.S. as evidence of an unfair trade relationship.
In an opening statement to the House Ways and Means Committee this week, Lighthizer said that long-term trade deficits "to some extent reflect market distortions," and said they are "having a negative effect on U.S. workers and businesses."
The chairman of that committee, Texas Republican Kevin Brady, told CNBC on Thursday that the president should be cautious in his approach to new tariffs on Chinese goods.
"The challenge for every president is how to do it in a way that doesn't punish Americans for China's misbehavior," Brady said. "So, you've really got to narrow these and target these. It is a very discerning line to do that."
China's foreign ministry argued on Thursday that it should not be punished if it doesn't want to buy what the U.S. is selling.
Lighthizer also suggested that the U.S. may take action against the World Trade Organization for its failures on promoting a fairer trade landscape. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Trump administration is weighing the possibility of a lawsuit against the WTO policies that cover Chinese trade.
The new trade restrictions exacerbate fears of sparking a global trade war that were raised after Trump signed executive orders enacting broad tariffs on steel and aluminum on March 8.
-- CNBC's Kayla Tausche contributed to this report.

VOA News | Trump's Unorthodox North Korea Diplomacy Begins at the Top on March 22, 2018.

The Washington Post | Here's what Congress is stuffing into its $1.3 trillion spending bill.

Here’s what Congress is stuffing into its $1.3 trillion spending bill

Negotiators in Congress on March 21 reached an agreement on a $1.3 trillion spending bill, keeping government agencies operating through September. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
Negotiators in Congress on March 21 reached an agreement on a $1.3 trillion spending bill, keeping government agencies operating through September. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
Congressional negotiators reached a tentative agreement Wednesday night on a $1.3 trillion federal spending bill, releasing it to the public just 52 hours before a government shutdown deadline. The draft bill runs 2,232 pages, and we’re going through it so you don’t have to. Here are some key highlights:
Overall spending: The “omnibus” appropriations bill doles out funding for the remainder of fiscal 2018 — that is, until Sept. 30 — to virtually every federal department and agency pursuant to the two-year budget agreement Congress reached in February. Under that agreement, defense spending generally favored by Republicans is set to jump $80 billion over previously authorized spending levels, while domestic spending favored by Democrats rises by $63 billion. The defense funding includes a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel and $144 billion for Pentagon hardware. The domestic spending is scattered across the rest of the federal government, but lawmakers are highlighting increases in funding for infrastructure, medical research, veterans programs and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Civilian federal employees get a 1.9 percent pay raise, breaking parity with the military for the first time in several years.
Border wall: The bill provides $1.6 billion for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, but with some serious strings attached. Of the total, $251 million is earmarked specifically for “secondary fencing” near San Diego, where fencing is already in place; $445 million is for no more than 25 miles of “levee fencing”; $196 million is for “primary pedestrian fencing” in the Rio Grande Valley; $445 million is for the replacement of existing fencing in that area; and the rest is for planning, design and technology — not for wall construction. The biggest catch is this: The barriers authorized to be built under the act must be “operationally effective designs” already deployed as of last March, meaning none of President Trump’s big, beautiful wall prototypes can be built.
Immigration enforcement: The bill bumps up funding for both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — delivering increases sought by the Trump administration. But there are significant restrictions on how that new money can be spent. Democrats pushed for, and won, limitations on hiring new ICE interior enforcement agents and on the number of undocumented immigrants the agency can detain. Under provisions written into the bill, ICE can have no more than 40,354 immigrants in detention by the time the fiscal year ends in September. But there is a catch: The Homeland Security secretary is granted discretion to transfer funds from other accounts “as necessary to ensure the detention of aliens prioritized for removal.”
Infrastructure: Numerous transportation programs get funding increases in the bill, but the debate leading up to its release focused on one megaproject: The Gateway program, aimed at improving rail access to and from Manhattan on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. Trump made it a signature fight, largely to punish Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democratic backers of the project who have held up other Trump initiatives, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told Congress this month that the project simply wasn’t ready for prime time. The project is not mentioned in the bill, and Republican aides say that they turned back efforts to essentially earmark federal funding for the project. But Democrats say that the project is still eligible for as much as $541 million in funding this fiscal year through accounts that Chao does not control. The project might also still qualify for other pools of money, though it will have to compete with other projects on an equal playing field.
Health care: Left out of the bill was a health-care measure sought by GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) that would have allowed states to establish high-risk pools to help cover costly insurance claims while restoring certain payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act. Trump, who ended the “cost-sharing reduction” payments in the fall, supported the Collins-Alexander language. But Democrats opposed it because they claimed it included language expanding the existing prohibition on federal funding for abortions.
Guns: The bill includes the Fix NICS Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that is used to screen U.S. gun buyers. It provides for incentives and penalties to encourage federal agencies and states to send records to the federal database in an effort to prevent the type of oversight that preceded last year’s church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Tex. Democrats pushed for more aggressive gun laws, including universal background checks, but only won a minor concession: Language in the report accompanying the bill clarifying that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can, in fact, conduct research into gun violence. A long-standing rider known as the Dickey Amendment, which states that no CDC funds “may be used to advocate or promote gun control,” has been interpreted in the past to bar such research. The amendment itself remains.
Taxes: The so-called grain glitch, a provision in the new GOP tax law that favored farmer-owned cooperatives over traditional agriculture corporations by providing a significantly larger tax benefit for sales to cooperatives, is undone in the bill. Farm-state lawmakers and farming groups said that without a fix, the tax law could disrupt the farm economy and even put some companies out of business. The spending bill tweaks the tax law to level the playing field between sales to coops and corporations. Democrats in exchange got a 12.5 percent increase in annual allocations for a low-income housing tax credit for four years.
Internal Revenue Service: Despite the administration’s attempts to slash its budget, lawmakers grant $11.431 billion to the nation’s tax collectors, a $196 million year-to-year increase and $456 million more than Trump requested. The figure includes $320 million to implement changes enacted as part of the GOP tax overhaul plan.
Opioids: The bill increases funding to tackle the opioid epidemic, a boost that lawmakers from both parties hailed as a win. The legislation allocates more than $4.65 billion across agencies to help states and local governments on efforts toward prevention, treatment and law enforcement initiatives. That represents a $3 billion increase over 2017 spending levels.
Foreign policy: Included in the spending bill is the Taylor Force Act. Named after an American who was killed by a Palestinian in 2016, the measure curtails certain economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it stops financially supporting convicted terrorists and their families. It unanimously passed the House last year.
Baseball: Should the bill pass, some minor-league ballplayers could see a raise this year — but only barely. The Save America’s Pastime Act exempts pro baseball players from federal labor laws and has been a major lobbying priority for Major League Baseball ever since minor-league players began suing the league in recent years for paying them illegally low wages. The version in the bill only exempts players working under a contract that pays minimum wage, but there are major loopholes: The contract only has to pay minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek during the season, not spring training or the offseason — and it includes no guarantee of overtime even though baseball prospects routinely work long hours. Thus, under the bill, a player is guaranteed a minimum salary of $1,160 a month. The current minor-league minimum is $1,100 a month.
Election security: The bill provides $380 million to the federal Election Assistance Commission to make payments to states to improve election security and technology, and the FBI is set to receive $300 million in counterintelligence funding to combat Russian hacking.
Congressional misconduct: The House appears to have gone further than the Senate to address concerns about how allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct are handled on Capitol Hill. The House set aside $4 million to pay for mandatory workplace rights training and plans to create a new Office of Employee Advocacy to assist employees in proceedings before the Office of Compliance or House Ethics Committees. House leaders also made a point of highlighting plans to expand the House Day Care Center. But senators failed to reach agreement on making changes to how allegations of wrongdoing are handled, so they won’t be included in the bill.
Congressional Research Service: The bill mandates that reports published by Congress’s in-house researchers be published online for public consumption. Historically, such reports have not been easy to access online, and a House Appropriations subcommittee took the lead last year in finally forcing transparency.
District of Columbia: The nation’s capital will see a slight dip in its federal funding. Lawmakers provide $721 million in direct federal funding to the District, a $35 million drop from last year — due mostly to a $22 million cut in emergency planning money that was used to prepare for the 2017 presidential inauguration. Lawmakers also kept out GOP attempts to block the District’s budget autonomy act and its assisted suicide law.
Religion and politics: The federal ban on tax-exempt churches engaging in political activity, known as the Johnson Amendment, will continue, despite attempts by Trump and GOP lawmakers to rescind it.
Jury duty: If you serve on a federal jury, your daily pay rate will increase to $50 per day — a bipartisan win sought in part after two dozen federal grand jurors in Washington petitioned House and Senate judiciary committee members last fall, saying the current pay rate is “abysmal,” below the minimum wage and a hardship.
Secret Service: The agency responsible for protecting the president and his family gets $2.007 billion, including $9.9 million for overtime worked without pay in 2017 and $14 million to construct a taller and stronger fence around the White House. In a win for congressional Democrats concerned about Secret Service agents protecting Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump on overseas business trips, the bill includes language requiring an annual report on travel costs for people protected by the service — including the adult children of presidents.
Restaurant tips: In December, the Labor Department proposed a rule that would allow employers such as restaurant owners to “pool” their employees’ tips and redistribute them as they saw fit — including, potentially, to themselves. That generated a bipartisan outcry, and the bill spells out explicitly in law that tip pooling is not permitted: “An employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purposes, including allowing managers or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips, regardless of whether or not the employer takes a tip credit.”
Yucca Mountain: The legislation blocks attempts by the Energy Department to restart a moribund nuclear storage program at the mountain in the Silver State. Former Senate majority leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) was a fierce opponent of the measure. Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — the most embattled GOP incumbent up for reelection this year — and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) proved that they, too, can stop a federal program that is widely unpopular in their state from starting again.
FBI: The spending bill grants the agency $9.03 billion for salaries and expenses, a $263 million jump over the last fiscal year and $307 million more than the Trump administration requested. The bill does not include any funding for the construction of a new FBI headquarters, a win for Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. According to aides familiar with the move, the senator sought to block new construction funding in response to the administration’s plans to keep the FBI headquarters in downtown Washington instead of moving it to suburban Virginia or Maryland.
Asian carp: The invasive species has wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes, and lawmakers from states bordering the lakes touted language that forces the Army Corps of Engineers to keep working on ensuring that vessels in the Illinois River don’t carry the carp across an electric field erected to keep them out of the lakes.
Apprenticeships: Federal money for apprenticeship programs will increase by $50 million and there’s a $75 million increase for career and technical education programs. The office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) noted that other job training and “workforce development” programs also stand to benefit, including “more money for child care and early head start programs to help make it easier for job seekers to enter or return to the workforce.” This has been an area of concern for former “Apprentice” star Ivanka Trump.
Arts: Federal funding for the arts goes up, despite GOP attempts to slash it. The National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities will see funding climb to $152.8 million each, a $3 million increase over the last fiscal year. Trump proposed eliminating the endowments. The National Gallery of Art gets $165.9 million, a $1.04 million jump in funding. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will receive $40.5 million, which is $4 million more than the last fiscal year.
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Public broadcasting: Big Bird, “Antiques Roadshow” and “Masterpiece Theatre” can play on as lawmakers agreed not to cut funding for the nation’s public television and radio networks. Government funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will remain at $465 million — the same level as past years. PBS and NPR draw most of their funding directly from member stations and viewers like you.
Extenders: The bill reauthorizes key Federal Aviation Administration programs through the end of September and extends the National Flood Insurance Program through the end of July.
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