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McCain introduces bill to kill Puerto Rico shipping restrictions

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Republican senators John McCain and Mike Lee introduced a bill on Thursday to permanently waive shipping restrictions on Puerto Rico, saying a temporary waiver from the Trump administration is “insufficient” to help the island rebuild from Hurricane Maria.

President Donald Trump’s administration earlier on Thursday waived the restriction known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act, for Puerto Rico for 10 days, after a request by Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello.

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Opponents of the Jones Act, which bars foreign vessels from shipping goods between U.S. coasts, say it hurts consumers on U.S. islands, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii, by adding shipping costs to imports of basic goods like food and fuel.

McCain called the Jones Act an “antiquated, protectionist law that has driven up costs and crippled Puerto Rico’s economy.”

In 2013, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report said the Jones Act hurts Puerto Rico’s economy. It estimated that shipping costs from the U.S. East Coast to Puerto Rico are double what they are to the nearby Dominican Republic, thanks mainly to the Jones Act.

In addition, the U.S. Virgin Islands have been exempt from the Jones Act for decades, which opponents of the law say is unfair to Puerto Rico.

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It was unclear whether McCain could gain widespread support for the bill that would waive the law, which is supported by shipping and security interests.

Not only do U.S. ship builders support the Jones Act, but also a wide array of industries that build parts that go into ships, businesses that are spread throughout the country.

President Donald Trump, before his administration waived the law temporarily, pointed out that “a lot of shippers and … a lot of people that work in the shipping industry” did not want the restrictions waived for Puerto Rico.

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In 1998, McCain sponsored legislation to allow waivers of the law, a measure that created exemptions that are in place today. In 2010, 2015 and this past July he introduced legislation to fully repeal the restrictions.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)


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‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case

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Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."

She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.

"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."

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CNN

WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial

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President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."

"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."

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Pennsylvania Republican senator arrested and charged with possession of child pornography

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According to a release from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Republican state Sen. Michael Folmer has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography.

The release said that the investigation began as the result of a CyberTip about Tumblr discovering that a user had uploaded child pornography onto their site. It ultimately led to the home of Folmer in Lebanon, PA. A search warrant yielded images on Folmer's phone.

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