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House Republicans test Trump on his US-Mexico wall

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Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives hope to offer President-elect Donald Trump an alternate plan to his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, a first test by lawmakers from his own party of one of his key campaign promises.

Just a day after Trump’s stunning election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, congressional aides told Reuters the lawmakers wanted to meet with Trump’s advisers to discuss a less costly option to his “big, beautiful, powerful wall.”

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The plan would involve more border fencing and additional border staffing with federal agents, many of whom belong to labor unions that supported Trump’s candidacy, the aides said.

Double layers of fencing would be extended along parts of the roughly 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border, rather than constructing a brick-and-mortar wall, according to the proposal.

A House Republican aide and a Department of Homeland Security official said a wall was not realistic because it would block visibility for border agents and cut through rugged terrain, as well as bodies of water and private land.

The House aide said House Republicans working on the alternative plan were waiting for Trump’s transition team to be put in place before setting a date for the meeting.

A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment on the lawmakers’ proposal or their desired meeting.

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Mexico said on Wednesday that it would not pay for a border wall, as Trump has pledged.

Immigration was a central feature of the Trump campaign, focusing on concerns among some voters about illegal immigrants and perceptions they take jobs and pose security risks.

Before the Republican convention in July, party platform committee members successfully petitioned delegates to add language about the proposed wall to the platform statement.

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But U.S. Republican Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has called a wall along the entire border a “knee-jerk” reaction and has not mentioned the idea in legislation on Capitol Hill.

If Congress stands up to Trump, his wall may end up being a fence extension, said Steve Legomsky, professor emeritus and immigration law expert at Washington University School of Law.

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“Congress won’t fund the kind of wall Trump promised, and Mexico won’t pay for it. But to save face, President Trump and congressional leaders will likely agree to a modest extension of the existing border fence,” Legomsky predicted.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Wednesday that border security was an important agenda item that he wanted to achieve “in whatever way is the most effective.”

The National Border Patrol Council, a union representing border agents, said the agency had already had a difficult time meeting hiring goals mandated by Congress. (Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley, Additional reporting by Julia Harte and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report

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The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.

But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.

"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."

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Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report

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According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.

As it turned out, that test was flawed.

Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."

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Lawmakers need to step up and stop Trump from ‘killing Americans’ with his ‘incompetence’: Ex-prosecutor

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On Saturday, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner excoriated President Donald Trump's mismanagement of the national health care system on Twitter — and called on elected leaders to "stop letting Trump kill Americans."

Trump’s mixture of incompetence and exploitation for political purposes of our national health emergency is costing lives. The most pressing question at this moment is: at what point do our elected politicians stop letting Trump kill Americans?

— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) April 4, 2020

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