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Democrats, White House near deal to raise debt ceiling

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US Democrats have nearly reached a deal with the Trump administration to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the government to borrow more money and avoid a disastrous default, sources close to the negotiations said Monday.

The “near-final agreement” would suspend the debt limit until the end of July 2021, and increase government spending by raising budget caps on defense and domestic outlays, one source said.

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Republicans and Democrats have been hammering out the broad constructs of a deal for weeks as they faced calls to approve the agreement in the House by Friday, when the chamber begins a six-week recess.

The agreement would include roughly $75 billion in spending increase offsets, giving the White House about half of the savings it had sought, the source said.

“Both sides will be unhappy with some aspects -? a true compromise,” he added.

The deal has been negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is the top Democrat in Congress, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but it remained unclear whether President Donald Trump would sign off on it.

The compromise, with its boosted spending and narrow savings, is expected to push the annual budget deficit to more than $1 trillion next year.

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“With federal debt at more than $22 trillion and counting, this is not a game,” tweeted congressman Mike Johnson, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee.

The group has stated it wants the cost of any deal to be fully offset by spending cuts, and says spending should comply with limits laid out in a 2011 law.

“I encouraged President Trump yesterday to hold the line in the budget negotiations,” Johnson said.

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Mnuchin warned last week that the government could run out of money in early September — before Congress reconvenes — absent an agreement.

The Democratic-led House goes on summer break July 26, but the Senate, controlled by Trump’s Republicans, is in session for an additional week.

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Officials have issued dire warnings that without an increase in the borrowing limit, the US could default on its debt for the first time and they have been urging the legislature to act.

Because the federal government traditionally runs a budget deficit, it has no choice but to borrow to finance government operations, including salaries, retirement benefits, social spending and other expenses already approved by Congress.


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Joni Ernst accused of involvement in ‘dark money’ re-election scheme: report

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According to a report from the Associated Press, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has been accused of illegally working with an outside group to help her re-election prospects in a tough 2020 fight with Donald Trump on the ballot.

According to AP: "An outside group founded by top political aides to Sen. Joni Ernst has worked closely with the Iowa Republican to raise money and boost her reelection prospects, a degree of overlap that potentially violates the law."

'Iwa Values, a political nonprofit that is supposed to be run independently, was co-founded in 2017 by Ernst’s longtime consultant, Jon Kohan. It shares a fundraiser, Claire Holloway Avella, with the Ernst campaign," the report continued. "And a condo owned by a former aide — who was recently hired to lead the group — was used as Iowa Values’ address at a time when he worked for her."

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What makes Christmas movies so popular

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If you are one of those people who will settle in this evening with a hot cup of apple cider to watch a holiday movie, you are not alone. Holiday movies have become firmly embedded in Americans’ winter celebrations.

The New York Times reports a massive increase in new holiday movies this year. Disney, Netflix, Lifetime and Hallmark are now in direct competition for viewers’ attention, with both new releases and reruns of the classics.

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Mike Pompeo under increasing scrutiny as as Trump impeachment ramps up: report

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On Saturday, WVAS Radio's Scott Simon profiled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — and how the impeachment investigation is shaping his political situation.

"As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues its march through Congress, questions are churning around his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo," wrote Simon. "For example, did he know, as witnesses testified before House investigators, that President Trump sought political favors from Ukraine in exchange for millions in U.S. assistance? Why did he take days to reveal he was on the now infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy? And does he believe allies of the president who — despite the findings of the intelligence community — claim that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election?"

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