- U.S. Senate Adopts Budget, Giving Momentum to Trump’s Tax-Cut Plans
The Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution Thursday that House GOP leaders agreed to accept, a show of unity aimed at speeding consideration of President Donald Trump’s plan to enact tax cuts.
The budget cleared the Senate 51-49, with all Democrats and Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voting against it.
“This now allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform),” Trump tweeted Friday, saying that Paul will vote for tax cuts.
Final approval of the measure will unlock a special procedure allowing Republicans to pass a subsequent tax code rewrite without Democratic support. The House and Senate tax-writing committees plan to release draft legislation by early November, which will set off a furious lobbying battle as Republicans attempt to enact a bill by the end of the year.
House and Senate Republicans crafted an amendment to the Senate budget designed to remove the need to spend weeks working to reconcile it with the version already passed by the House. The House would simply vote on the budget that passed the Senate; plans call for holding that vote next week, a House aide said.
Senators acknowledged that producing the budget, which took months of work by Budget Chairman Mike Enzi of Wyoming and his staff, is the easiest part of enacting a tax overhaul.
“This is a necessary part that hasn’t been easy, but I think we’re going to get there,” GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said before the vote. “It’s an uphill task. We’re sort of at the bottom of the mountain and we have to keep climbing to the top.”
Earlier in the week, Graham feuded with Kentucky’s Paul, who demanded a $43 billion cut to war spending levels allowed by the budget. “He’s always got a reason to vote no,” Graham said. Paul also opposed Graham’s partial Obamacare repeal bill that failed in the Senate last month.
To avoid a repeat of the embarrassing Obamacare setback, Republicans must find a way to mollify members eager to protect cherished tax breaks while also satisfying senators like Bob Corker of Tennessee who oppose increasing the deficit and won’t buy arguments that trillions of dollars in tax cuts will pay for themselves through economic growth alone.
“The only way for this to work — I met with Secretary Mnuchin last night on this very topic — they’ve got to close $4 trillion in loopholes, they’ve got to make the taxes permanent in nature, and that’s going to be the toughest part because for every high-paid lobbyist it’s going to be a knife fight,” Corker told reporters, referring to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The GOP budget compromise took shape Thursday evening. It allows for more defense spending in the first year, in line with the House budget, according to a Republican aide. It eliminates House language to expedite $203 billion in entitlement savings, while leaving in place Senate language that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Senate Democrats tried without success to strip out the drilling provision.
On taxes, the compromise would keep the Senate’s language allowing tax cuts that add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit, not including the effects of economic growth, according to the aide. The House plan had required tax changes not to lose revenue.
GOP leaders worked to ensure they had enough votes for final passage of the budget measure, H.Con.Res. 71. An ailing Senator Thad Cochran returned to Washington from Mississippi to cast his vote.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said in a statement the Senate budget vote “keeps us on track to enacting historic tax reform that will mean more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks for American families.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called it “the first step towards replacing our broken tax code.”
Democrats weren’t happy.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said in a statement, “I’m embarrassed that this body voted to saddle our children with more debt.” He said the legislation will make it difficult to pass a bipartisan tax bill.
The final Senate action followed a series of votes on amendments known as a vote-a-rama that started Thursday at 3 p.m. Washington time.
Senate Democrats used this week’s budget process to force Republicans to take politically painful votes that highlight studies showing the tax framework unveiled so far would probably add trillions to the deficit while mostly benefiting the wealthy. Republicans say the studies are incorrect because final tax brackets and credits haven’t been announced.
In one vote, the Senate defeated 51-47 an amendment by Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota that would have barred tax increases for people earning less than $250,000 a year. Enzi called the proposal a poison pill because it would tie the Finance Committee’s hands.
The Senate voted on dueling amendments on the state and local tax deduction, which many Republicans want to eliminate. Senators signaled support for at least limiting the deduction by supporting an amendment by GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia on a 52-47 vote. Members defeated a Democratic amendment aimed at protecting the deduction.
Senate Republicans signaled their intentions on dealing with contentious issues in a tax plan by rejecting Democratic amendments that would bar raising the deficit, prevent any middle-class tax increases, and block tax breaks for the top 1 percent. The votes indicated that Republicans will try to rewrite the tax code with mostly — if not exclusively — GOP votes. It’s a gamble that they’ll succeed where they failed on replacing Obamacare.
“Not delivering on tax reform just isn’t an option,” said third-ranking GOP Senator John Thune of South Dakota. “If we don’t get that done, then we’re obviously going to be held accountable by the people of this country, and we should.”
President Muhammadu Buhari Appoints New Service Chiefs as Buratai, Others Resign
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed new service chiefs in an effort to bring the growing insecurities in Nigeria to an end.
The appointed service chiefs are Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.
Femi Adesina, a presidential spokesman, stated in a statement issued on Tuesday.
According to him, the appointment was after Buratai and other service chiefs resigned and immediately retired from service.
The resigned and retired service chief were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
President Buhari thanked the outgone service chiefs for their dedication and commitment towards securing and protecting the lives of Nigerians.
University Of Ibadan (UI) Goes Digital, Releases Timetable for Virtual Academic Session
University of Ibadan (UI) on Friday announced it is going ahead with resumption on February 20 despite the second wave of COVID-19.
In a statement released by the school, the First Semester of the 2020/2021 academic session will commence virtually on February 20, 2021.
The virtual academic session will last for 13 straight weeks and end on Friday May 12, 2021, while the matriculation ceremony will hold on Tuesday March 16, 2021.
The University of Ibadan also scheduled one week for the Finalization of Continuous Assessment, to begin from Mon. 17 May and ends Friday 21 May.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has compelled the Senate to approve the virtual academic session in an effort to ensure the tertiary institution abides by the protocols established by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“It, therefore, agreed that the 2020/2021 First Semester lectures will be delivered online. In this regard, students will not be accommodated on campus,” a statement from the school said.
“Senate also approved the cancellation of the 2019/2020 session. The next session is, therefore, renamed 2020/2021 Academic Session. Consequently, students who have been admitted for the 2019/2020 session will now be regarded as the 2020/2021 intakes.
“Kindly note that online opening of Registration Portal and Orientation Programme for the 2020/2021 intakes may commence ahead of the Sat 20/02/21 date indicated above,” the statement said.
House of Representatives Impeached Trump Over Capitol Invasion
The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for the second time after instigating the US Capitol invasion.
Led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, 232 representatives, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach the outgoing president against 197 that voted for him to remain in the office for the next six days when he would handover to the president-elect, Joe Biden.
The ten Republicans were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Speaking before the vote, Pelosi said “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Republicans, who unanimously stood behind president Trump in 2019 during his first impeachment, were divided this time over the attack on Capitol.
A Republican representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, said “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
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