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Congress votes to reopen government, passes budget deal

in AMERICAS/POLITICS by

Congress ended an hourslong federal government shutdown early Friday, sending President Donald Trump a $400 billion budget deal that sharply boosts spending and swells the federal deficit. The White House said Trump would sign the measure Friday morning. The 240-186 vote came in the pre-dawn hours, putting to bed a five-and-a-half hour federal freeze that relatively few would notice. Many who did quickly labeled it a pointless, head-scratching episode. The shutdown was the second in three weeks. The breakdown came largely in the Senate, when after a day of inaction, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky went rogue and stalled a vote in protest over his party’s willingness to bust the budget. But Democrats also had their divisions and wrangling, largely with liberal upset the measure was not tied to any plans to assist the “Dreamer” immigrants.

On Mideast visit, US house speaker vows to confront Iran

in AMERICAS/POLITICS by

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan came to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday promising to take a harder line on Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional proxies, and saying he was open to imposing new economic sanctions. His Emirati hosts couldn’t have been happier. “We could have given that exact same speech”, Emirati Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba said. Gulf Arab nations, which view Iran as a regional menace and opposed the 2015 nuclear deal, have welcomed the hard line adopted by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. But there are differences lingering beneath the smiles and handshakes, including over Washington’s alliance with Qatar, which is being boycotted by the UAE and three other Arab nations.

End to government shutdown in sight as Dems halt filibuster

in AMERICAS/POLITICS by

Congress sped toward reopening the government Monday, as Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a temporary funding bill in return for assurances from Republicans leaders that they will soon take up immigration and other contentious issues. Senate Republican leader McConnell’s commitment to quickly tackle the issue of immigrant “Dreamers” was contingent on Democrats providing enough votes now for a stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks. The measure needed 60 votes, and Democrats provided 33 of the 81 it got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed.

U.S. Senate approves defense budget for Ukraine’s security assistance

in EUROPE/PRESS RELEASE/REGIONS by

The US Senate approved a bill ‘The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018,’ which includes the permission to allocate $350 million on providing security assistance to Ukraine,” the statement reads.

Thus, the Congress completed the procedure for approval of the document, which now heads to the U.S. president, who is expected to sign it.

The draft law authorizes the delivery of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine and substantially expands the parameters of U.S. support for Ukraine in the security and defense spheres. Thus, the document includes provisions allowing the use of U.S. defense budget funds for the rehabilitation of wounded Ukrainian servicemen in U.S. medical institutions, the teaching, and training of Ukrainian medical specialists in this area, as well as the strengthening of the capabilities of the country’s air and naval forces.

For the first time, at the legislative level, it is proposed to provide Ukraine with such defensive means as air defense and surface search surveillance radars, naval countermine means, offshore and coastal ships.

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