Donald Trump likely to scrap Iran deal amid ‘insane’ changes of stance, says Macron

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French chairwomen frank remarks come after Congress address in which he stood up for policies his US counterpart has sought to destroy

Emmanuel Macron conceded “hes having” likely failed in his attempt during a three-day trip to Washington to persuade Donald Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal, describing US flip-flopping on international agreements as “insane”.

The French president had hoped to convince Trump to continue to waive imposing sanctions on Iran, as agreed by the 2015 nuclear bargain, in which Iran agreed to accept strict curbs on its nuclear activities. Macron offered Trump the prospect of negotiations on a new complementary bargain that would address Iranian missile development and Tehran’s military intervention in the Middle East.

But speaking to US reporters before leaving Washington, Macron said:” My opinion- I don’t know what your president will decide- is that he will get rid of this bargain on his own, for domestic reasons .”

Noting that Trump had also pulled the US out of the Paris climate change accord- another commitment of the Obama administration- Macron said such frequent changes in the US position on global issues” can work in the short term but it’s very insane in the medium to long term “.

The admissions come after a day of intimate fraternity with Trump, during which Macron made an impassioned speech in Washington advocating many of the things Trump has spent much of his presidency trying to destroy.

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Five touching moments between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron- video

Over the course of a 50 -minute address to a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday, the French president said he was ” sure” the US would one day return to the Paris climate change accord, and vowed that France would not abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action( JCPOA)

More broadly, Macron presented himself to the US parliament as an unabashed proponent of the liberal global order of global institutions and free trade- the very opposite of the America First nationalism that fuelled Trump’s rise to the White House. The speech- delivered in English- was interrupted by frequent standing ovations, many from both sides of the aisle.

” We will not let the rampaging run of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity ,” Macron said.” It is a critical moment. If we do not act with urgency as a global community, I am convinced that the international institutions, including the United Nations and Nato, will no longer be allowed to exercise a mandate and stabilising influence .”

” Personally, if you ask me, I do not share the fascination for new strong powers, the abandonment of freedom and the illusion of patriotism ,” Macron said, in remarks that could easily be seen as a reprimand for Trump’s enthusiasm for some of the world’s most autocratic “strongman” rulers.

Macron also made a full-throated argument for global the area of combating climate change, built around the 2015 Paris accord, which Trump announced in June he was walking away from.

” What is the meaning of our life if we[ are] destroying the planet while sacrificing the future of our children ?” the French chairwoman asked.” Let us face it. “Were not receiving” planet B .”

He said the rift over the Paris accord was but a” short-term disagreement “.

” In the long run, we will have to face the same reality “that weve” citizens of the same planet ,” he added.

” I’m sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement ,” Macron declared, to whoops and cheers from the Democratic ranks.

He had an even more direct reprimand for his host’s resort to tariffs as an instrument of trade policy. Macron used to say the right way to correct trade imbalances and overcapacity was to negotiate through the World Trade Organisation.

” We wrote these rules. We should follow them ,” the visiting president told.

On the Iran nuclear agreement, Macron recurred an idea he had promoted on Tuesday at a White House meeting with Trump for a ” new deal” that would complement the 2015 accord with a broader remit to address Iranian ballistic missile growth and members of the military role across the Middle East.

Iran, Macron told would” never possess any atomic weapon” but he added:” This policy should never lead us to war in the Middle East .”

He called for respect for the sovereignty of Iran and its ancient civilisation, and exhorted the west not to” recur past mistakes”, an apparent reference to the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Both the US and France endorsed the JCPOA, he pointed out, adding:” We should not abandon it without something more substantial in its place .”

In a tweet after his address to Congress, Macron added:” We chose with President[ Trump] to work on a new comprehensive bargain” which would address Iranian missiles and its regional role, and stimulate limits on Iranian nuclear activities permanent.

On Tuesday, Trump had stopped short of voicing support for Macron’s idea of a supplemental agreement, or set of agreements, on non-nuclear issues but had suggested he might at least reconsidering his pledge to abrogate the JCPOA by declining to extend sanctions relief when presidential waivers falls due on 12 May.

With their president in an apparent state of flux, US officials dedicated mixed messages on the US position on the JCPOA on Wednesday.

The head of the state department planning office, Brian Hook, disparaged the nuclear agreement.

” It has no signatures. It has no legal status. It is a political commitment by an administration that is no longer in office ,” Hook told National Public Radio, although the JCPOA is enshrined in a UN security council resolution.

In Geneva on the same day, the assistant secretary for international security, Christopher Ford, said:” We are not aiming to renegotiate the JCPOA or reopen it or change its terms ,” seemingly in clear contradiction of multiple presidential statements.

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Mark Zuckerberg vows to fight election meddling in marathon Senate grilling

Facebooks CEO seemed before Congress in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal to address concerns over users data

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, warned on Tuesday of an online propaganda” arms race” with Russia and vowed that fighting interference in elections around the world is now his top priority.

The 33 -year-old billionaire, during witnes that lasted nearly five hours, was speaking to Congress in what was widely seen as a moment of reckoning for America’s tech industry. It came in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which, Facebook has admitted, the personal information of up to 87 million users were harvested without their permission.

Zuckerberg’s comments dedicated an insight into the unnerving reach and influence of Facebook in numerous democratic societies.” The most important thing I care about right now is constructing sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world ,” he told under questioning by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico.

The senator stimulated reference to a billboard displayed earlier in the hearing that proved images- including Trump, the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and the Confederate flag- allegedly spread online by Russian spies during the 2016 general elections. He asked if Zuckerberg could guarantee such images would not appear on Facebook again.

” Senator , no, I can’t guarantee that because this is an ongoing arms race ,” the CEO said.” As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose undertaking it is to try and interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict .”

Earlier in the hearing, Zuckerberg acknowledged that” one of my greatest regrets in running the company” was being slow to uncover and act against disinformation campaigns by Russian trolls during the election.

The blockbuster joint hearing of the US Senate’s commerce and judiciary committees on Capitol Hill was a humbling moment for the young entrepreneur. Wearing a suit, white shirt and sky blue tie instead of his customary T-shirt, he sat contrite and silent as senator after senator carried deep concerns about the company’s meet of personal information.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, told him:” Let me simply cut to the chase. If you and other social media companies do not get your act in order , none of us are going to have any privacy any more. If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix the privacy invasions, then we are going to have to. We, the Congress .”

Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate commerce, science and transportation committee and Senate judiciary committee. Photo: Jim Watson/ AFP/ Getty Images

Senator John Thune, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate commerce committee , noted that Facebook’s business model offers a free service in exchange for personal data.” For this model to persist, both sides of the bargain need to know what’s involved ,” he said.” I’m not persuaded Facebook’s users have the information they need to make decisions .”

Thune added:” Mr Zuckerberg, in many ways you and the company that you’ve created, the tale you’ve created, represent the American dreaming … At the same hour, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dreaming doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook .”

Zuckerberg and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, have been on a media apology tour since the Cambridge Analytica story broke in the Observer, the Guardian’s sister Sunday newspaper in the UK, and he continued to apologize several times during Tuesday’s hearing.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook should not have trusted Cambridge Analytica’s assurance that it would stop using the personal information it harvested.” In retrospect, that was a mistake. We shouldn’t have taken their term for it. We considered that a closed instance .” He admitted that Facebook did not alert the Federal Trade Commission about the data collection.

Under questioning, he promised that Facebook was conducting a” full investigation” into every app that has access to users’ datum, numbering tens of thousands.” If we find they’re doing anything improper, we’ll ban them from Facebook ,” he said.

He also initially claimed that Cambridge Analytica had not been an advertiser in 2015 but, after a brief adjournment in which he consulted with personnel, he corrected himself: it had indeed been an advertiser subsequently that year and therefore could have been banned.

When Zuckerberg, who was constructing his first appearance before Congress, first took his seat, surrounded by a thick wood of clicking cameras, he seemed somewhat like a prisoner in the dock. But he seemed to grow in confidence as the afternoon wore on and tried to appear open and cooperative. He frequently used the respectful word “Senator” and complimented them for asking “important questions”, some of which he told ” his team” would report back on later.

Some senators tried to throw him off balance. John Kennedy of Louisiana told bluntly:” Your user agreement sucks .” Democrat Dick Durbin asked:” Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night ?” There was a long intermission before Zuckerberg responded: “No.” There was laugh in the room.

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Five key moments from Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony- video

But the Facebook co-founder was not eviscerated as some commentators had predicted. The stock exchange concurred: Facebook’s price, which had fallen seriously in recent weeks, objective the day up 4.5%. Zuckerberg plainly felt he was acquitting himself well. When Thune asked if he wanted a break after nearly two hours in the spotlight, the witness said:” We can do a few more .” He turned and smiled at his team and there was laugh in the public gallery.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal then almost devoted him cause to regret it. He challenged Facebook’s contention that Aleksandr Kogan, a Moldovan-born researcher from Cambridge University, deceived the company when he harvested user data. Blumenthal had what he claimed was a previously undisclosed 2014 words of service document that are specifically permitted Kogan to” sell, licence( by whatever means and on whatever terms) and archive your contribution and data “.

Blumenthal told:” We’ve seen the apology tours before. You have refused to acknowledge even an ethical violation to report this violation of the FTC consent decree. My reservation about your evidence today is that I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are specific rules of the road. Your business model is to maximise earning over privacy .”

Several topics predominated the hearing, including the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook officials have been interviewed by officials from the special advise Robert Mueller, who has been investigating Russia’s role in meddling in the 2016 election.” I know we are working with them ,” said Zuckerberg, acknowledging that “there may be” a subpoena but he was uncertain.

Regulation was also brought up repeatedly, including by the Republican senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who asked Zuckerberg whether Facebook was a monopoly.” It surely doesn’t feel like that to me ,” he responded, inspiring mirth in the public gallery. Graham pressed him on the issue of regulation. Zuckerberg said:” My position is not that there should be no regulation .”

Asked if Facebook would therefore embrace regulation, the CEO told:” If it’s the right regulation, then yes .” Graham:” Would you work with us ?” Zuckerberg: “Absolutely.”

Senator John Cornyn pushed him on whether Facebook is a neutral platform. Zuckerberg replied,” I agree that we are responsible for the content”- a significant concession that could open the style for Facebook to be held to the same legal standards as a traditional media company.

Zuckerberg will face a second grilling on Wednesday from the US House energy and commerce committee.

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In blow to GOP, supreme court allows Pennsylvania redistricting to proceed

Justice Samuel Alito repudiated a Republican plea to block an order from the state supreme court to devise new congressional districts

US Congress: Republicans rush for the exits to imperil Trump’s midterm hopes

Trey Gowdy this week became the 38 th Republican to announce their deviation since Trumps inauguration and Democrat are optimistic

Train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers hits truck in Virginia

No lawmakers were believed to be injured in the accident

US ‘Putin list’ of aides and oligarchs is a hostile step, Russian president says

Measure, in response to alleged Russian meddling, was only reluctantly approved by Trump

Government shutdown: first closure in four years looms hours before deadline

As the minutes ticked towards midnight, dueling parties in Congress proved no signs of violating impasse over spending and Daca

Republicans celebrate with Trump after House passes tax bill again

Lawmakers celebrated their legislative victory and heaped praise on Donald Trump after passing a $1.5 tn tax cut which permanently slashes corporate rates

Jubilant Republican lawmakers joined Donald Trump at the White House for a victory festivity on Wednesday as Congress approved the party’s biggest priority, the most thorough reshaping of the American tax system since the 1980 s.

They celebrated their legislative victory and heaped praise on the president in the outdoor rite. After Trump inaccurately called the bill” the largest taxation cut in the history of the country ,” and hailed it for allowing for the” formation of new young beautiful strong companies ,” Republican leaders took turns praising him.

Mitch McConnell said this has been” a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump Administration” and Paul Ryan praised Trump’s” exquisite presidential leadership .” Others went even further. Vice-president Mike Pence thanked Trump for his” boundless faith in the American people” while Utah senator Orrin Hatch called Trump” one heck of a leader “. Perhaps the most fervent kudo received from Tennessee congresswoman Diane Black who proclaimed:” Thank you, President Trump, for allowing us to have you as our chairperson .”

The House passed the bill by 224 to 201- recur the previous day’s referendum after making a mistake in its passageway on Tuesday. Twelve Republicans voted against the plan and no Democrat supported it.

The bill represents a $1.5 tn taxation cut which permanently slashes corporate tax rates and also lowers taxes for individuals.

Trump hailed the bill in a statement.” I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting … By cutting taxes and reforming the broken system, we are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy. America is back to winning again, and we’re growing like never before .”

In a cabinet meeting shortly before the House vote, Trump praised the legislation and hailed it as” essentially repealing Obamacare” in addition to what he claimed would be the economic benefits of the tax cut.” It’s about chores ,” insisted Trump. He also heralded additional measures which would open up the Alaskan Arctic wilderness for oil and gas drilling by energy companies.

Vice-President Mike Pence also spoke, praising Trump for delivering” historic taxation cuts …[ and] that middle-class miracle “. The housing secretary, Ben Carson, also offered a prayer.

” Workers benefit. Wages go up. More jobs pass ,” the House speaker, Paul Ryan, said Wednesday on NBC’s Today, describing what Republican say will flow from a $1.5 tn measure that affects everyone’s taxes but is dominated by breaks for business and higher earners. Democrat call the legislation a boon to the rich that leaves middle-class and working Americans behind.

” If they think this bill is a good political debate for them, let them is considered that ,” the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, told reporters.

The Senate used a post-midnight referendum to approve the measure on a party-line 51 -4 8 tally. Protesters interrupted with chants of,” Kill the bill, don’t kill us” and Pence, chairing the session, repeatedly called for order. Upon passage, Republicans cheered, with the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, among them.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, insisted Americans would respond positively to the tax bill.

” If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work ,” he said.

Trump schemed a rite with GOP lawmakers on Wednesday at the White House after final congressional approval.

The bill will not be signed there, however. Instead, it is likely to be signed by Trump while he spends Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The tax bill which was pushed through Congress at a breakneck pace required an extra day before it is unable to reaching Trump’s desk because of a procedural hiccup with Senate rules. This entailed the House had to vote a second time on the bill once two minor offending provisions had been stripped out.

Ryan, who has worked years toward the goal of revamping the tax code, joyfully pounded the gavel on Tuesday’s House vote. GOP House members roared and praised as they passed a package that will touch every American taxpayer and every corner of the US economy, steep taxation cuts for businesses and the wealthy, and more modest help for middle- and low-income families.

Despite Republican talk of spending discipline, the bill is projected to push the enormous government debts ever higher.

Ryan said on Wednesday the GOP was willing to risk operating up deficits with the aim of get a higher annual economic growth rate.

Trump is aching for a big political victory after 11 months of legislative failures and nonstarters. The chairwoman tweeted his congratulations to GOP leaders and to” all great House Republican who voted in favor of cutting your taxes !”

Congressional Republicans, who faltered badly in an attempt to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, ensure passageway of the tax bill as essential to proving to Americans they can govern- and imperative for holding on to House and Senate majorities in next year’s midterm elections.

” The proof will be in the paychecks ,” Senator Rob Portman said during the Senate’s nighttime debate.” This is real tax relief, and it’s needed .”

Not so, said the top Senate Democrat as the long, late hours led to testy moments Tuesday night.

” We believe you are messing up America ,” the New York senator Chuck Schumer told Republican, chastising them for not listening to his remarks.

The GOP has repeatedly argued the bill will spur economic growth as corporations, flush with cash, increase wages and hire more workers. But many voters in surveys consider the legislation as a boost to the wealthy, such as Trump and his family, and a minor gain at best for the middle class.

Democrats taunted the Republicans’ contention that the bill will stimulate taxes so simple that millions can file their returns” on a postcard”- an idea repeated often by the president.

” What happened to the postcard? We’re going to have to carry around a billboard for taxation simplification ,” declared Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the ways and means committee.

Tax cuts for firms would be permanent while the cuts for individuals would expire in 2026 to comply with Senate budget regulations. The tax cuts would take effect in January, and workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withhold from their paychecks in February.

The bill would slash the corporate income tax rates from 35% to 21%. The top tax rates for well-off individuals would be lowered from 39.6% to 37%.

The legislation repeals an important part of the 2010 healthcare law- specific requirements that all Americans carry health insurance or face a penalty- as the GOP seems to unravel the law it failed to repeal and replace this past summer. It also allows oil drilling in the Arctic national wildlife refuge.

The $1,000 -per-child taxation credit doubles to $2,000, with up to $1,400 available in IRS refunds for households that owe little or no taxes.

Disgruntled Republican lawmakers from high-tax New York, New Jersey and California receded into the background as the tax train rolled. They resist a new $10,000 restriction on the allowance for nation and local taxes.

The bill is projected to add $1.46 tn to the nation’s debt over a decade. GOP lawmakers say they expect a future Congress to continue the tax cuts so they won’t expire. That would drive up deficits even further.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Senate approves most drastic changes to US tax code in 30 years

Donald Trump has said his first major legislative victory would be a big, beautiful Christmas present for Americans

Senate Republicans have passed a sweeping overhaul of the US tax code, placing Donald Trump on the brink of scoring his first major legislative victory.

The Senate approved the $ 1.5 trillion taxation bill, which includes permanent tax breaks for corporations and temporary tax cuts for individuals, by a final referendum of 51-48. Once legislated, the legislation will represent the most drastic changes to the US tax code since 1986.

The bill was passed along party line, with every Senate Republican present voting in its favor and all Democrats voting against it. Arizona senator John McCain, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, was the lone member to be absent for the vote.

Although the bill’s passageway was expected, tensions boiled to a surface area as the final referendum was held, as Democrats sharply blamed Republicans for a bill independent analysts have projected will disproportionately benefit the wealthy and corporations.

The legislation must go back to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday for final approving, but is expected to pass.

The bill lowers the top individual tax rate from 39.6% to 37% and slashes the corporate tax rates to 21%, a dramatic autumn from its current rate of 35%.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said Republicans would” rue the working day” when they passed the bill, which he blasted as a “disgrace”. A visibly thwarted Schumer then scolded Republicans for talking during his speech.

” This is serious stuff. We believe you’re messing up America ,” Schumer, a Democrat from New York, told Republicans.” You could pay attention for a couple of minutes .”

‘ Kill the bill ‘: activists interrupt taxation reform vote in US senate- video

As the vote occurred, activists in the press gallery hollered” Kill the bill, don’t kill us “. The chaotic proceedings were eventually called to order by vice president Mike Pence, who was presiding over the chamber for what will soon mark a rare but significant achievement for the Trump administration.

After the bill passed, Republican celebrated the moment in a late-night press conference where Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell hit back against criticism that the tax overhaul was unpopular among the public.

” If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work ,” McConnell said.

The Senate vote came hours after House Republicans passed the tax bill by a vote of 227 to 203, with 12 Republicans voting against the plan and no Democrats supporting it. The House will nonetheless be forced to vote on the legislation once more on Wednesday, after it was discovered that the bill they passed fell short of the necessary rules for Senate Republicans to pass it with a simple majority.

The Senate subsequently stripped out the minor provisions that were in violation of the rules, clearing the way for House Republican to hold a second vote on Wednesday and then send the bill to Trump’s desk for his signature.

Democrats say the failure to write a bill that would are appropriate Senate rules- an avoidable misstep- underscored the slapdash way and lightening fast velocity at which Republicans assembled their tax overhaul.

The urgency among Republicans to pass a tax bill before the year’s end was similarly underscored when they provided lawmakers with a copy of the 500 -page tax plan hours before an initial referendum was scheduled on the legislation. In an online video, Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, called it” Washington DC at its worst” as he flipped through the pages, showing off the handwritten changes in the margins.

After the House vote, Trump praised House Republican leadership for delivering the $1.5 tn taxation cut scheme.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

Congratulations to Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Kevin Brady, Steve Scalise, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and all great House Republicans who voted in favor of cutting your taxes!

December 19, 2017

Despite the delay, Congress is still expected tosend the bill to Trump in time to deliver what he has promised would be a” big, beautiful Christmas present” for the nation.

Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, went in so far as it call it” the worst bill in history” in a press conference on Tuesday. She described it as” an all-out looting of America, a wholesale robbery of the middle class” and said:” The GOP tax scam will go down, again, as one of the most serious, most scandalous acts of plutocracy in its own history .”

The tax plan legislates a deep and permanent cut for firms, slashing the top rate from 35% to 21%. The bill also includes taxation cuts for individuals and families of all income levels, with the largest breaches going to the wealthiest Americans. The individual taxation cuts are slated to expire in 2025, a move to comply with Senate budget regulations, but Republican said a future Congress would extend them.

” This is one of the most important point pieces of legislation that Congress has passed in decades to help the American worker to help grow the American economy ,” Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, said moments after the bill passed.” This is profound change and this is change “whos going to” put our country on the right path .”

Congressman Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, added:” Today the impossible became the inevitable again .”

Democrats were excluded from the closed-door sessions where the plan was crafted. They have condemned the measure as a handout to the wealthy and firms, and promised to use it as a cudgel against Republican in the 2018 midterms.

Republicans have long pushed tax reform as a way to simplify the US tax code, but the proposal would maintain all seven existing taxation brackets for individuals. The bill has faced significant criticism because it would limit tax deductions for home mortgages and state and local taxes, as well as adding over a trillion dollars to the budget deficit.

The bill would not only reshape tax policy in the United States. It also contains provisions to allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic national wildlife refuge, and would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which requires Americans to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

Despite being heralded by Republican and the White House as a major accomplishment, the bill is deeply unpopular. A CNN poll released earlier on Tuesday found that 55% of voters had a unfavorable position of the scheme and only 33% position it favorably.

Ryan dismissed criticism of the bill, saying ” results are what’s going to make this popular “.

Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress but has all along been failed to achieve a major legislative victory, relished the moment hours before the vote was scheduled on Tuesday.

Nancy Pelosi was scathing about the bill. Photograph: Aaron Bernstein/ Reuters

After final passageway, Ryan loudly gaveled the vote to a close while receiving a standing ovation from House Republican. Ryan have all along pushed for cutting taxes and reforming the tax code and the vote on Tuesday was seen as a defining achievement for him.

Congress, meanwhile, is operating up against a Friday deadline to fund the federal government. A sticking point over fund Obamacare payments- a promise made to secure Maine senator Susan Collins’ vote on tax reform- risks a potential uprising by House conservatives and a possible government shutdown.

The White House hailed the House passage of the tax bill and indicated Trump would sign it in the coming days.

” The chairperson will have delivered the most significant taxation cut in the history of the nation ,” Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said.

Sanders struggled, however, to defend Trump’s assertion in a speech last month that the tax bill would cost him” a fortune “.

” We expect that it likely will, surely on the personal side, could expense the president a lot of fund ,” she said, while adding:” The president’s focus hasn’t necessarily been at all on himself .”

” This is a taxation scheme that we hope benefits all Americans mainly ,” Sanders said.

Independent analyses have shown Trump and his cabinet stand to gain millions through a provision within the bill that doubles the exemption of the so-called estate tax. The chairperson is also poised to save up to $30 m from the repeal of what is known as the alternative minimum taxation, a supplemental income taxation intended to prevent wealthy Americans utilizing loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, both independent research groups in Congress, have said the tax bill will disproportionately benefit the wealthy and corporations. As a result, Trump is likely to receive a larger median tax cut than the middle class.

When reporters pointed out the White House could directly address how the bill affects Trump by releasing his tax returns, Sanders insisted they are under audit and therefore cannot be disclosed. Trump utilized a similar line to justify his failure to release his tax returns as a candidate, breaking with a 40 -year precedent for US presidential nominees.

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Alabama election: Democrats triumph over Roy Moore in major blow to Trump

Doug Jones becomes first Democrat to win any statewide office in Alabama in a decade after Moores campaign for Senate marred by sexual assault claims

The Democrat Doug Jones has beaten his Donald Trump-backed Republican rival Roy Moore in the diehard Republican state of Alabama, setting off a political earthquake likely to shake Washington.

His victory in a special election for a US Senate seat- by a margin of 49. 9 to 48.4 with 100% of precincts reporting- is a major personal jolt to the president and his efforts to pass taxation reform on Capitol Hill.

Jones was able to become the first Democrat in a decade to win any statewide office in Alabama by beating Moore, who had faced multiple allegations of sexual assault during a campaign which uncovered Republican party faultlines.


Who is Doug Jones?

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Early life

The 63 -year-old grew up in the working-class city of Fairfield, simply west of Birmingham, an region once dominated by the steel industry. His father was a steelworker and he spent hour working in a mill when not in school

Democratic roots and the KKK

Jones got his start in government as an aide to the last Democrat to serve a full term in the Senate from Alabama, the late Howell Heflin.

Years before running for the Senate himself, Jones became known for prosecuting two KKK members for the bombing of Birmingham’s 16 th Street Baptist church in 1963 which killed four black girls.

After his appointment as US attorney in Birmingham in 1997, Jones resulted a team of federal and state attorneys during trials that resulted in the convictions of Thomas Blanton Jr in 2001 and Bobby Frank Cherry in 2002.

Photograph: Marvin Gentry/ X02859

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Moore, who late on Tuesday was refusing to concede the race, had been favored in the deep red state until two women came forward to assert that Moore assaulted them when they were adolescents; a number of another woman said the Alabama Republican had romantically pursued them when they were underage. Moore has denied all the allegations.

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‘It’s not over’: Roy Moore refuses to concede in Alabama Senate race- video

Alabama has long faced a profound racial divide, which was reflected in the results. According to an exit poll, Jones won 95% of the African-American vote but only 27% of the white vote in the Yellowhammer State. However, widespread African-American turnout on Jones’s behalf overcame Moore’s margins in rural, predominantly white parts of Alabama.

Jones also made significant inroads among college-educated whites. He won well-educated Madison county by a margin of 57-40. A center of the aerospace industry, the district voted for Trump by a margin of 55-38 in 2016.

Alabama voting demographics

‘More in common than what would divide us’

Jones emerged to a euphoric reception just before 10 pm local time.” Folks, I gotta tell you, I think that I have been waiting all my life and now I simply don’t know what the hell to say ,” he said, beginning a 10 -minute speech.” I have always believed that the person or persons of Alabama had more in common than what would divide us .”

The election had never been either about him or Moore, he insisted.” This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and inducing sure everyone in this state, regardless of what zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake .”

His speech was met with cheers and applause and chants of” USA! USA !”

Doug Jones waves to supporters after the results were announced. Photograph: John Bazemore/ AP

The Democratic victory will reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51 -4 9 once Jones takes his seat on Capitol Hill. This significantly reduces the margin for error as Republicans attempt to push through a major corporate taxation cut.

They already have one defector in senator Bob Corker, and Jones’s election entails a single additional Republican breaking ranks would sink the legislation .

Moore’s defeat also marks a major personal blow to Trump, who endorsed the Alabama Republican and held a rally on his behalf merely over the state line in Pensacola, Florida. Although most national Republicans rushed to distance themselves from Moore in the aftermath of the allegations, Trump reaffirmed his support through tweets and public statements.


The Roy Moore file

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Roy Stewart Moore, 11 February 1947, in Gadsden, Alabama, the oldest of five children of a construction worker and housewife.

Best of times

He had a large slab of Vermont granite inscribed with quotes from the Declaration of Independence, “the member states national” anthem and the founding fathers installed in the Alabama supreme court. It was topped off with tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments.

Worst of Times

In Vietnam, Moore insisted his troops salute him on the battlefield. He was named” Captain America” and later remembered sleeping on sandbags to avoid a grenade flung under his cot in retribution.

What he says

” I think it[ America] was great at the time when families were unified. Even though we had slavery, they cared for one another .”

What others say

After refusing to acknowledge same-sex marriage legislation, Human Rights Campaign said:” It is clear that Roy Moore not only believes he is above the law, he believes he is above judicial ethics …”

Photograph: Brynn Anderson/ AP

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Shortly after the findings are called, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones 😛 TAGEND

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard oppose victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republican will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never objective!

December 13, 2017

Early on Wednesday morning, the president tried to claim he had always known Moore would lose, recalling his backing for foe Luther Strange in the Republican primary that had preceded the special election.” The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange( and his numbers ran up mightily ),” Trump wrote,” is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him !”

Moore’s defeat is a significant blow to the efforts by Steve Bannon and the populist Trump wing of the Republican party to undermine Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Bannon and his allies are planning a series of primary challenges against establishment Republican in 2018. Moore’s defeat significantly reduces their leverage as the joint efforts of Bannon and his rightwing news website, Breitbart, could not elect their preferred nominee in a state that Trump won in a landslide in 2016.

Steven Law, the head of the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund, set the blame squarely on Bannon moments after the race was called.” This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running ,” Law said.” Not merely did Steve Bannon expense us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco .”

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Cory Gardner, the head of the National Republican Senate Committee, which categorically refused to back Moore, said:” Tonight’s results are clear: the person or persons of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the US Senate .”

While national Republican accepted defeat, at Moore’s election night event, presidential candidates and his supporters still held out hope.

‘The evening is not over yet’

Moore’s campaign chairman, Bill Armistead, took the stage to insist that” the evening is not over yet” and cited Alabama’s provision for an automatic recount if result was within half of a percentage point. He also noted optimistically that there were still outstanding military ballots.

Moore then took the stage to say:” When the vote is this close, it’s not over .” He then bemoaned that he had been” painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light” before recommending attendees to go home and go to sleep.

Roy Moore supporters react to the loss on election night. Photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

Cal Zastrow, a friend of Moore who had come down from Michigan to volunteer for the campaign, tried to frame research results within a bigger painting.” I was cheering for him and supporting him but Jesus is wonderful whether Roy Moore wins or loses ,” he said.” I’m not distressed. I’m not discouraged. Jesus is wonderful .”

At Jones’ election night party hundreds of supporters, many waving signs, erupted in cheers at a hotel ballroom in Birmingham when, on giant Tv screens, CNN declared the race for the Democrat. There were hugs, smiles, tears and chants of” We want Doug !” The raw feeling was evident.

John Parker, 26, a bartender, said:” I think it’s astounding and unprecedented in Alabama politics, and a response to what we’re considering nationally. This is a direct response to President Trump. Roy Moore is unfit for any chore, let alone[ that of] international civil servants. Alabama tonight voted for America .”

He added:” There is hope and pleasure. Tomorrow’s another day in Alabama .”

Voter breakdown

Caitlin Barringer, 29, who works in healthcare, said:” We eventually have a person who will represent all of Alabama. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for people be recognised that Roy Moore is not what he says he is .”

Looking at the media crews in the ballroom, she added:” I’m thankful everyone from all over the world is here and Alabama has shown we are so much more than closed-minded people .”

Community activist Keith Williams, 43, who is African American, said:” Miracles do happen. I have a message for America: don’t count Alabama out. The progressive motion is going forward .”

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