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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    In the aftermath of the mass shootings this month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee will meet in early September to act on a series of gun control measures, including ten round limits on ammunition magazines, red flag laws, and adding new reasons for blocking someone from buying a firearm. 'For far too long, politicians in Washington have only offered thoughts and prayers in the wake of gun violence tragedies,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. 'Democrats in the House will continue to make good on our promise to work to keep our communities safe,' Nadler added, trying to put more pressure on Senate Republicans to act on gun bills approved by the House. 'House Democrats are serious about protecting our communities from the epidemic of gun violence,' said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). 'All of these gun violence prevention bills would save lives, and it’s really important that the House is taking action,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). 'We must act now to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country and keep our kids safe,' said freshman Rep. Joe Negeuse (D-CO). Democrats also tried to turn up the heat on GOP leaders in the Senate, where a bill to expand background checks to all private gun sales has been languishing for months. 'The Majority Leader should call the Senate back to Washington to debate and vote on gun violence legislation,' said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). Some Democrats also want to force a vote on banning certain assault weapons - Congress approved such a measure back in 1994, but the expired after ten years. While the Congress isn't back for votes until the week of September 9, the announcement by the House Judiciary Committee will bring lawmakers back just after Labor Day for committee work - with the goal of votes on the various gun bills in the House later that month. 'Our community is relying on us to pass gun safety legislation, which is why we need a federal red flag policy to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,' said Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA). Some Republicans quickly made clear their opposition to some of the gun plans from Democrats. 'The problem with Red Flag laws is you’re guilty until proven innocent,' said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). President Donald Trump has held talks with some Democrats on the issue of expanding background checks, but his language at a campaign rally on Thursday night in Manchester, New Hampshire did not signal any compromise on guns, as he focused more on the issue of mental health. “It's not the gun that pulls the trigger. It's the person holding the gun,” the President said. The bills on the schedule in September before the House Judiciary Committee include: + H.R. 1186, the Keep Americans Safe Act. This bill would ban high capacity ammunition magazines. + H.R. 1236, the Extreme Risk Protector Order Act, designed to help states formulate 'Red Flag' laws. + H.R. 3076, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which would allow people to go into federal court to take a firearm away from a mentally unstable person. H.R. 2708, the Disarm Hate Act, which would add misdemeanor hate crimes to the list of items disqualifying someone from buying a weapon, under the current background check system. H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which stems from the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina. In that case, the shooter was able to buy his firearms - even though he would have failed the background check - because the feds did not conduct a check within three business days. = Click here to read more stories from Jamie Dupree.
  • A day after the Israeli government refused to allow two Democrats in Congress to visit that nation this weekend, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) rejected a separate offer to visit her 90 year old grandmother on the West Bank, because Israeli officials would not allow her to speak out against the policies of the Netanyahu government during that trip. 'I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in - fighting against racism, oppression & injustice,' Tlaib wrote Friday morning on Twitter. 'Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me,' Tlaib said. The decision by the Michigan Democrat came a day after Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) had been blocked by Israel from an official visit - but then, the Israeli government allowed Tlaib to visit, only if she did not voice her support for efforts to boycott Israel. In the end, Tlaib backed out. In order to visit the West Bank, Tlaib had to promise not to engage in criticism of the Israeli government. 'I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my vist,' Tlaib wrote in a letter to the Israeli Interior Minister on Thursday. But in the end, Tlaib could not stomach those restrictions, even as she said, 'This could be my last opportunity' to see her aging grandmother. - Click here to read more stories from Jamie Dupree.
  • Offering no evidence to support a charge of major election fraud in the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump again claimed on Thursday that he lost the state of New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton because of widespread illegal voting, which he said involved 'thousands and thousands' of people coming in from other states to cast ballots against him. 'New Hampshire was taken away, it was taken away from us,' the President said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire.  'We should have won New Hampshire,' he told the crowd. Before flying to New Hampshire, the President made the same claim - again without any evidence - as he stood on the tarmac before boarding Air Force One. 'New Hampshire should have been won last time, except we had a lot of people come in at the last moment,' as the President once again repeated a conspiracy theory that voters from Massachusetts and other states came en masse to New Hampshire to vote against him in 2016. Granite State officials said last year there was no evidence to support Mr. Trump's claim of fraud. Back in 2018, Mr. Trump told reporters that Massachusetts voters came 'by the hundreds' in buses to vote against him - this time, he said it was in the 'thousands.' 'Thousands and thousands of people, coming in from locations unknown,' the President added, as he ignored questions from reporters about where the illegal voters were from. In 2018, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner undertook a full review of the votes cast in New Hampshire in the 2016 election - flagging 142 cases of possible fraud, not the 'thousands' President Trump has talked about. The New Hampshire Attorney General's office in 2018 found there were examples of buses with out-of-state license plates transporting voters to the polls - but no evidence that the voters on board those buses were from actually from Maine, Vermont, or Massachusetts. During his time in office, President Trump has repeatedly raised questions about voter fraud, claiming in February of 2019 that there was widespread evidence in California of illegal voting. 'They found a million fraudulent votes,' the President told reporters at the White House, after being asked about a GOP election fraud case which invalidated a Congressional race won by Republicans in North Carolina. But instead of fraudulent votes being cast, California has been removing over 1 million 'inactive' voters from the rolls - people who were registered to vote, but who had not cast a ballot in several elections. Just this week, the President re-tweeted a claim from a conservative activist, Charlie Kirk, that said the state of California has more people registered than the number of eligible voters. But the facts don't back that up. 'I'll retweet this stupidity and debunk it, only because the President retweeted it,' said elections expert Tom Bonier on Tuesday, as he showed how Kirk was talking about 'inactive' registered voters. 'Inactive, meaning they haven't voted (and often their mail ballots have been returned as undeliverable),' Bonier tweeted.
  • The race for President in the Democratic Party shrank on Thursday, as former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced that he was ending his long shot bid for the White House, unable to get any traction in the polls and debates with his more moderate brand of politics. 'In almost every regard, this journey has been more exciting and more rewarding than I ever imagined,' Hickenlooper said in a video released by his campaign. 'Although, of course, I did imagine a very different conclusion,' Hickenlooper said with a smile. In the first debates in June and July, Hickenlooper had made little in the way of any impact on the Democratic race, as he tried to argue that his colleagues were moving too far to the left on a number of issues. 'I think that the bottom line is, if we don't clearly define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists,' Hickenlooper said in the first NBC debate in Miami. Hickenlooper repeatedly tried to break through in the debates with that more moderate message. 'I share their progressive values, but I'm a little more pragmatic,' Hickenlooper said in the CNN Democratic debate in Detroit, as he made the case that Democrats needed to slow down on the Green New Deal and Medicare For All. 'Last year Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the House, and not one of those 40 Democrats supported the policies of our front-runners at center stage,' Hickenlooper said at the CNN debate, as he criticized major changes in health care proposed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others. 'You might as well Fed Ex the election to Donald Trump,' Hickenlooper said at the CNN debate. Unless there had been some kind of miraculous change in the trajectory of his candidacy, Hickenlooper was not going to qualify for the next two debates, as he was not registering in the polls, and not raising enough money. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Hickenlooper had spent more money in the last quarter than he raised - another red flag about a campaign which wasn't catching on. The lack of momentum for Hickenlooper was crystallized in a quiet moment at the CNN debate in Detroit that I witnessed. After participating in the first night of the CNN debate, Hickenlooper arrived at the press filing center the next morning to do interviews, but he attracted little in the way of attention from reporters as he walked through the work space with an aide. After chatting with former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Hickenlooper sat down at a press table to watch experts on CNN go over the first debate night. As he sat and watched the TV, his name wasn't mentioned for almost 15 minutes. To have candidates drop out at this point in the race for President is nothing unusual; it was happening four years ago at this time in the GOP race as well.
  • In a highly unusual move, coming a week after a visit of several dozen U.S. lawmakers, the Israeli Government has decided not to allow two Democratic members of Congress to enter the country this weekend, noting the anti-Israel statements of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Not long before the news was official, President Donald Trump tweeted his support. 'It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,' the President wrote on Twitter. 'They hate Israel and all Jewish people.' In Jerusalem, the President's Ambassador to Israel applauded the move by the Israeli government. 'The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is not free speech,' said U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who said the Netanyahu government 'has every right' to block Omar and Tlaib from traveling into Israel. 'The United States supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to the Tlaib/Omar delegation,' the Ambassador added. While Mr. Trump labeled the two Democrats a 'disgrace,' their colleagues in Congress said the Israeli move was a mistake by the Netanyahu government. “Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump,” said Rep. Omar in a written statement. “Israel’s denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness, and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must have forgotten the Democracy memo — in an open and free society just because someone is critical of you it doesn’t give you the right to curtail their rights,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). Even some prominent Republicans broke with the President and the Israeli Government, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). 'Nobody has to agree with their opinions, but it will inevitably harm U.S.-Israel relations if members of Congress are banned from the country,' said Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI). The move also drew opposition from the largest pro-Israel group in the United States. “We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution,” said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand,” the group added. Another pro-Jewish group, the American Jewish Committee, issued a statement saying that while they oppose the sentiments of lawmakers like Tlaib and Omar, “we nonetheless believe that the costs in the U.S. of barring the entry of two members of Congress may prove even higher than the alternative.” “Denying entry to members of the United States Congress is a sign of weakness, not strength,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. 'This is a craven, partisan, racist weaponization of the US-Israel relationship that will do lasting damage,' said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “I am stunned and outraged that Israel, our supposed ally, is barring entry to duly elected Members of the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). “Banning elected members of Congress hurts our alliance,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). 'Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy,' said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 'Not allowing Reps Omar and Talib to enter Israel would be a grave mistake,' said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). 'Cooler heads must prevail.' 'Banning members of Congress from visiting Israel, where they can see facts on the ground with their own eyes, is counterproductive and plays into President Trump’s goal of politicizing support for Israel,' said Halie Soifer, a top official with the Jewish Democratic Council of America. 'First he tells Congresswoman Tlaib to 'go back' to 'her' country, and then he tells that country not to let her in,' said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), as Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress.
  • After a second day of big stock losses this week - with traders concerned about the U.S. economy and an ongoing trade fight with Beijing - President Donald Trump on Wednesday again downplayed concerns about any impact on American consumers from new tariffs on Chinese imports, once more blaming the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates in 2017 and 2018 and expressing confidence in his trade negotiations. 'We are winning, big time, against China,' the President tweeted on Wednesday afternoon, a day after the White House delayed new tariffs on electronics imported from China, amid concerns that the tariffs could depress holiday sales later this year in the U.S. 'Our problem is with the Fed,' the President wrote. On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped almost 400 points.  On Tuesday, the Dow Jones regained 377 points. But the volatility returned on Wednesday, as the DJIA went down 800 points, ahead of a 766 point loss on August 5. While the trade spat has clearly unsettled investors, President Trump used Twitter on Wednesday to point the finger of blame again at the Federal Reserve, as he argues that the Fed was wrong to raise interest rates in his first two years in office. A few weeks ago, the Fed cut interest rates for the first time - but it hasn't spared Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell from the President's verbal barbs. 'THANK YOU to clueless Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve,' Mr. Trump tweeted. Democrats said the President was simply looking for someone to blame - other than himself. “He will never accept any responsibility. So get ready to hear a lot about how the Federal Reserve is responsible for any economic downturn or stock market correction,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).  “Total BS.”
  • Keeping up a Democratic drumbeat of criticism of GOP leaders in Congress in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called for the GOP Senate to act on a House-passed bill to expand background checks to all private gun sales, as Pelosi held out the possibility of other gun votes this fall as well. 'We've sent our legislation to the Senate,' Pelosi told an audience of Democrats in Illinois, as she pointed the finger at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 'Moscow Mitch says that he is the grim reaper,' Pelosi said of McConnell's refusal to take up a series of bills approved by Democrats in the House. 'All of this legislation is alive and well,' Pelosi countered to applause, as she said that 'high capacity magazines should be eliminated as well.' 'We can, we should, we must act to address the gun violence epidemic in this country,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). Politico reported that White House aides would go to the President's golf retreat in New Jersey in coming days to discuss the issue of gun legislation - but at this point there is nothing scheduled in the Senate. Still, there were signs of discussions, as President Trump said Tuesday that he had a conversation with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the prime supporters of expanded background checks legislation. But there was no hint of a new deal on guns, as one GOP Senator who was in Washington on Tuesday - Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) - gave no indication that Republicans were anywhere near accepting new federal legislation on 'Red Flag' laws. 'It has to be something which is effective, and will actually withstand Second Amendment challenges,' Rounds told reporters at the U.S. Capitol. Often, Rounds will often stop and talk to reporters in the Capitol at length - but on this occasion, it was obvious the South Dakota Republican wanted to get back to his office right away, as he hopped into a waiting elevator, and then on the underground subway.
  • A day after big losses on Wall Street over fears about an escalating trade fight between the U.S. and China, the Trump Administration on Tuesday announced that tariffs on certain imported electronics from China would be delayed until mid-December, though thousands of other products will still face a 10 percent tariff starting on September 1. The announcement by the U.S. Trade Representative noted that tariffs won't happen immediately on 'cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing.' But a number of imported items from China will be subjected to the 10 percent import duties, as the Trump Administration issued a 122 page list of products, covering everything from 'Live purebred breeding horses' to 'bleached beeswax,' women's overcoats, ski boots, aluminum fittings, table knives, and much more. The decision to relax some of the tariffs against China spurred stock gains on Tuesday, as Chinese officials said trade talks with the U.S. would resume in the next two weeks. 'This is good news,' said Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN). 'China’s smart to come to the table. Everyone would benefit if China would stand down, drop their unfair trade practices and embrace free trade once and for all.' 'During this delay period, we urge the administration to develop an effective strategy to address China’s unfair trade practices by working with our allies instead of using unilateral tariffs that cost American jobs and hurt consumers,' said David French, a top official with the National Retail Federation. Democrats meanwhile continued to denounce the President's trade fight with China, echoing the complaints of major business and agricultural groups. 'Unfortunately, today’s announcement doesn’t address the vast majority of tariffs that are driving uncertainty, putting farmers out of business and causing small businesses to slow hiring,' said the group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. 'Trump's trade wars are a major threat to the economy,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). 'Between Mother Nature and Trump’s trade war, there’s no doubt this is a difficult time for our agricultural economy,' said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL). 'How about just not starting a trade war, period?' said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). On Monday, the Treasury Department raised its forecast for how much money U.S. companies would have to pay in order to import Chinese goods, raising the estimate to $81 billion in 2019 - almost double the $41 billion collected from tariffs in 2018. At a stop in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, President Trump made no bones about his support for tariffs as a way to help spur job creation in the United States, arguing that other nations have held an unfair edge under past trade deals. “They have been screwing us for years,” the President said.
  • A trip through the Plains over the past two weeks showcased some of the electoral strengths - and possible weaknesses - for President Donald Trump, as he was cast as a hero by thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts, while the President's trade fight with China continued to draw intense concerns among farmers and agricultural leaders, threatening to cast a shadow in Red states on the President's 2020 re-election bid. 'Agriculture exports to China dropped by 50% last year,' the National Farmers Union said on Monday, as concerns continue to grow among farmers that Mr. Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports - and the retaliation by the Chinese government against U.S. agriculture - could spell further economic troubles for farmers nationwide. But while farmers worried about their sales, those going to a major motorcycle rally in South Dakota last weekend had an array of Trump t-shirts to buy, reflecting the strong support in Red states for the President. 'IN TRUMP WE TRUST,' read one shirt on sale in Custer, South Dakota. Here's some of what I saw during my break from Washington, D.C. 1. Trump wasn't there, but he was a star of Sturgis. You don't have to be a political scientist to understand that most of those riding their motorcycles to the big rally in Sturgis, South Dakota this past weekend would tend to be Trump supporters. That was obvious in the shirts they were wearing, and what was on sale on the Main Street of towns in South Dakota and Wyoming. Shirts depicting the President as Captain America. 'WELCOME TO AMERICA,' bellowed another t-shirt which sported a drawing of President Trump riding a Harley with high handlebars. 'NOW SPEAK ENGLISH OR GET THE F*CK OUT,' the shirt said. Another shirt with a similar Trump-in-motorcycle-leather said, 'FINALLY SOMEONE WITH BALLS!' And then there was one shirt which poked fun at what LBGTQ stands for. 2. Support for Trump being tested in Farm Country. The corn is growing tall in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Soybeans are doing well. The cows look well fed and there is absolutely no shortage of grass to eat. In fact, there has been so much rain that the fields are an uncommon color of deep green in the middle of August for hundreds of miles, and there is little in the way of drought. That should be something good for Farm Country. But the news over the last week for farmers in the Plains was not positive, as the Chinese announced they would not buy any American agricultural products so long as President Trump was levying new tariffs on goods imported from Beijing. The Trump Administration has already unveiled two different bailouts for farmers hurt by trade retaliation - and there could be billions of dollars more needed if this U.S.-China trade fight goes on. It's being noticed by some of the bigger players in agriculture. 3. Growth remains uneven in Trump areas. In my five state trek, I only was in two counties which voted for Hillary Clinton - everything else was for President Trump in 2016. Economically, the strongest towns in rural America continue to rely on either tourism, or colleges and hospitals - but most areas don't have that, as many of the towns which fall in between are struggling. The two lane roads of the Plains showcased way too many faded signs - and dreams - which couldn't survive. Despite the President's constant declarations that the economy is the best ever, it's not apparent that things are changing dramatically in rural areas, especially with trade troubles being encountered by American farmers. Where was the biggest growth occurring? That's an easy answer - it was in a Blue area around  Minneapolis - where renovations were underway for numerous old buildings in the city, along with all sorts of highway construction in the region. Democrats won two House seats from the GOP in 2018 in greater Minneapolis, and it's yet another state further dividing along rural-urban lines, with the showdown in the suburbs and exurbs of the state's cities. 4. The cry for less government rings hollow at times. As you go through much of the Plains and the West, you find a lot of aggravation with the federal government. And yet - Washington does so much to keep these areas going, from the national parks which provide a vital economic boost via tourism, the government subsidies for farmers which help all sorts of agricultural operations, to the Army Corps of Engineers, which gives so many communities a life line along the Mississippi, Missouri, and other rivers. As I watched the sun set on the Missouri in the capital of South Dakota this past week, I couldn't help but think about how the Army Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation made it easier for the people out fishing late that evening, and others playing on the river. It was a fresh reminder of how reliant many Red states are on the federal government. 5. Energy industry remains strong - both fossil and green. My hotel in Dickinson, North Dakota could well have just been an office for workers at Halliburton, who filled the breakfast room and hallways with their work talk. Driving along miles and miles of dirt road across into Montana, we not only took in some great scenery, but also saw a large amount of construction work on an oil pipeline. It was a reminder of the ongoing energy boom in the Dakotas and Wyoming. But there was also evidence of continuing growth in a different arena - green energy - as giant trucks were on the interstates to deliver huge blades for wind turbines, and we saw repeated examples of entire fields sprouting solar panels, instead of corn, wheat, hay, or soybeans. 6. The debate over guns remains the same. Over twenty years ago, the guy who lived next to my grandparents in Wyoming had a favorite name for a buffalo-shaped target at his gun range - 'The Schumer' he called it - referring to the New York Senator, and his push for gun controls. After the latest mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, there was no evidence that anything was changing out West when it comes to Second Amendment issues. One conversation stopped me in my tracks outside Bismarck, North Dakota, where I listened as three men talked about how they thought those mass shootings - along with the attack on an outdoor music concert in Las Vegas in 2017 - were probably orchestrated by the federal government in order to press for gun controls. 'I love this country, but I don't trust the government,' one man said to the nodding approval of the others, as they embraced what can only be described as a classic conspiracy theory. There will be more debate about guns when the Congress returns to work after Labor Day. Whether anything happens legislatively is another story entirely. 7. The only hope for unity may be the Prairie Dog. If there was one thing that seemed to appeal to everyone we saw on our trip, it was an appreciation for the prairie dog. It didn't matter if you were a grizzled motorcycle rider, a family from overseas, or a bunch of kids from Back East who have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that the Washington, D.C. area has more people than North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming combined. Little kids loved the prairie dogs. Pot-bellied bikers with no shirts loved the prairie dogs. Maybe there is hope that we can bridge the political gap in America. Prairie Dog 2020. 8. Checking off a few more state capitol buildings. I may work in the U.S. Capitol on a daily basis, but there's nothing I love more than going to see state capitols all around the country. This past week, the Dupree Family trekked to St. Paul, Minnesota, Bismarck, North Dakota, and Pierre, South Dakota. All three capitols had their good points, but if I had to pick one of them, then the South Dakota Capitol would rate the highest on my list. Every single one tells a different story. Every capitol is a reminder that we don't call it the United States of America for nothing. My last piece of advice - get on the road and see the country. You might pick up a few things, and you might realize that no one gets everything they want in politics.  Or in life.
  • With President Donald Trump using tariffs against China and other nations as part of his push to win concessions and negotiate new trade deals, the amount of money being collected from American companies importing foreign products continues to grow to record levels, with the Trump Administration now predicting the feds will take in $81 billion in tariffs in 2019, almost double the previous year's $41.3 billion in import duties. The new tariff figures came in the latest report from the Treasury Department on the federal budget deficit, as Uncle Sam ran a deficit in July of $120 billion, leaving this year's deficit at $867 billion, already larger than the deficit for all of 2018. Tariffs accounted for $6.5 billion in revenue in July, totaling almost $57 billion for 2019, over $24 billion more than the same point in 2018. And that figure will only grow, as the feds predict another $24 billion in import duties will be collected from U.S. companies in just the next two months - prompting hundreds of requests to the Trump Administration for tariff relief. The higher collections of tariffs - which are often denounced as a tax by conservatives - prompted one GOP Senator to call for additional tax cuts, in order to offset the tariff increase. 'Anything we raise in tariffs, we ought to give back to the American public in tax reductions,' said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) during an appearance Monday on CNBC. But Scott acknowledged there may have to be 'short term pain' for American businesses and consumers, in order to properly confront the Chinese over trade. 'We've got to stop China from stealing our technology,' Scott added. The higher tariffs have brought forth bipartisan criticism, as farm and business groups who are usually more allied with the Republican Party express concern, and Democrats pile on with their own complaints. 'The never-ending tariffs are having a direct, negative impact on many industries in our state, but perhaps none more than agriculture,' said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in a letter to President Trump. 'American farmers are the ones paying for the President’s reckless trade war with China,' said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The Latest News Headlines

  • Just a month after City of St. Augustine Beach leaders passed bans on the sale and distribution of plastic straws, plastic bags, and Styrofoam, it all may need to be rolled back. That's as a Florida appeals court has struck down a similar ordinance in Coral Gables. The court found that their ban violated a state law that stops local governments from regulating Styrofoam.  Attorney Jane West, who pushed for the St. Augustine Beach bans, tells our partner Action News Jax, that after the city passed the measures, they received a letter from the Florida Retail Federation threatening to sue.  'Now that they're armed with this very strong opinion in their favor, the city can't take the legal risk of getting sued and then having to pay all the attorney's fees in defending what is probably going to be a losing case,' says West.  She and other residents believe it'll likely be up to families and local businesses to cut down on their use of these materials on their own. The ban was set to take effect on January 1st, 2020. St. Augustine Beach Mayor Undine George released the following statement about this court decision: “I don’t believe the appellate decision reflects the majority opinion of Fl communities. Even our governor has expressed strong support for local communities’ right to regulate Styrofoam and single use plastics; we are the ones who see and feel their impact. Hopefully, local businesses will listen to the voice of the people and transition away from Styrofoam and single use plastics. Consumers want to patronize businesses who share their desire to protect our environment from harmful pollutants.”
  • The Jacksonville Beach Police Department is turning to the community for any information after a man was fatally shot outside his home. Police have now identified the victim as 28-year-old Jake Hall. Neighbors tell us he was a father of three kids.  Investigators say at this time, there's no clear motive or any information on a possible suspect. That's why they're asking neighbors within a 6 block radius of 17th Avenue North and 2nd Street North to check their doorbell cameras and security cameras for anything that might be of interest to police. They say the shooting happened around 9:40 PM, Thursday evening.  The police department says shootings for the community are rare. According to their stats, the last shooting was in August 2018.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has released an extremely clear surveillance photo of two armed robbery suspects that they're working to identify. Police say they're accused of robbing the Circle K on St. Johns Bluff Road, Thursday night, just before 11:00 PM. Police are asking anyone with information about either suspect to contact the sheriff's office at (904) 630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-8477.
  • The plane that crashed in Tennessee on Thursday while carrying retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his family and two pilots bounced at least twice before stopping and catching fire, according to investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board. >> Read more trending news  Officials said the incident happened as the Cessna Citation was landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. An NBC Sports spokesperson said in a statement that Earnhardt, his wife Amy, his 15-month-old daughter Isla and two pilots were safe after the crash.  Update 2:35 p.m. EDT Aug. 16: Investigators will spend at least two days collecting evidence from the scene of the crash, Ralph Hicks, a senior investigator with NTSB, told reporters Friday. Authorities have reviewed surveillance footage from near the crash site which showed the plane bounced at least twice before coming down hard on one of the landing gears, Hicks said. 'You can actually see the right main landing gear collapsing in the video,' he said. 'The airplane continued down the runway off to the end, through a fence, and it came to stop ... on Highway 91.' Hicks said the crash site was about 1,000 feet past the end of the runway. The plane had taken off about 20 minutes before the crash from Statesville, North Carolina, Hicks said. The aircraft was not equipped with a data recorder, though Hicks said other instruments recorded some data. Officials are also analyzing a cockpit voice recorder. Authorities continue to investigate the cause of the crash. Update 2 p.m. EDT Aug. 16: Authorities are providing an update Friday on the investigation into Thursday's plane crash. Update 1:50 p.m. EDT Aug. 16: Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration said no injuries were reported as a result of the crash, although the Cessna 680A aircraft was destroyed. The Earnhardt family and the pilots were the only passengers listed on board when the crash happened. Authorities are expected to provide more updates on the incident at 2 p.m. news conference Friday. Update 11:50 a.m. EDT Aug. 16: Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board are scheduled to hold news conference Friday afternoon to update the public on the investigation into Thursday's crash.  Update 9:25 a.m. EDT Aug. 16: Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, thanked God, supporters and medical staff early Friday in a Twitter post after Earnhardt and his family survived a fiery plane crash in Tennessee. 'Finally laying down for the night and want to say thank you to God, the angels among us, our pilots, first responders, medical staff, our NASCAR family and everyone that has reached out in whatever way to support us all,' Earnhardt Miller wrote in a post around 12:30 a.m. Friday. A nurse who witnessed the crash told WSOC-TV her instincts kicked in Thursday when she saw the jet skid off the runway. '(The) first thing that went through my mind was, 'Lord, I hope there was nobody in the plane that's still in the plane,' because it was completely engulfed,' she told WSOC-TV. She added that as she tried to help, the plane, it was smoking out the back and then, all of a sudden, it caught on fire.' An NBC Sports spokesperson said Thursday that Earnhardt was taken to a hospital but released a short while later. Authorities are investigating the cause of the accident. Update 9 a.m. Aug. 16: Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were in Elizabethton on Friday morning, WJHL reported. Agency officials said Thursday that two NTSB officials were being sent to investigate the incident. Federal Aviation Administration officials were also expected to be on the scene Friday, WJHL reported. Original report: Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy Reimann were aboard a private jet when it crashed at the Elizabethton Airport, in Tennessee.  Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford told WJHL that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was taken to an area hospital and his injuries are described as cuts and abrasions.  Lunceford also said that his wife and child were onboard as well as the family dog. The pilot and one other passenger was also onboard. Earnhardt Jr. sister, Kelley, tweeted that everyone involved survived the crash. 'We're incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today's accident,' NBC Sports said in a statement. 'After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we're all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family. 'We look forward to having him back in the booth next month at Darlington.' According to WJHL, emergency crews responded to the crash involving the Cessna Citation Latitude business jet that ran off the end of the runway Thursday afternoon. It's not clear if the plane was departing or arriving. Earnhardt retired as a full-time racer in 2017 and has been working as an analyst for NBC. He is part of the scheduled broadcast team for Saturday night's Cup Series event in Bristol, Tennessee.The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • It's an exciting day for the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park! The zoo held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new sloth exhibit. WOKV told you back in July, when the zoo brought in two Hoffman’s two-toed sloths named Teddy and Grizzly.  The zoo says the exhibit is part of the rainforest habitat as guests walk into the ‘Land of the Crocodiles.’ Despite sloths typically being solitary, the zoo has said Teddy and Grizzly share a strong bond.

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