HHS submits updated plan for reuniting migrant children with parents

The Trump administration, responding to a federal judge’s sharp admonition, provided an updated plan Sunday about how it will verify the parentage of older children in detention.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw scolded the Health and Human Services Department Friday, saying it was using safety concerns as "cover" to avoid meeting his July 26 deadline to reunite with their parents all 2551 children aged 5 to 17 who were detained at the border.

Sabraw previously ordered HHS to return to their parents by July 10 all 102 children under 5 who were detained at the border. In response, HHS reunited all but 46, saying these children were ineligible for reunificaiton because verification wasn’t complete or because of safety concerns.

The new plan that HHS submitted Sunday differed from an earlier plan in clarifying that HHS will use methods other than DNA testing to verify parentage for most older children. Continue reading “HHS submits updated plan for reuniting migrant children with parents”

Top Ivanka paid-leave staffer departs White House

Maggie Cordish, a close friend of Ivanka Trump and a top adviser to her on paid family leave, has left the White House.

There are no plans to replace Cordish, signaling a likely pullback from the Trump White House’s efforts to pass a paid family leave bill in the face of steep congressional resistance.

But a White House official who confirmed Cordish’s departure said "nothing could be further from the truth." Staffers from the Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Legislative Affairs, the official said, will continue working on paid leave, reporting to Ivanka Trump.

“They’ve always been involved on this issue, and continue to assist in Ivanka [Trump]’s efforts on paid family leave,” the official said.

Although Cordish kept a low profile, she was one of Ivanka Trump’s closest allies in the White House. The two have been friends since they met at the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading “Top Ivanka paid-leave staffer departs White House”

Unemployment drops, but wage growth remains sluggish

The unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in nearly two decades, the government reported Friday, delivering good news to President Donald Trump and Republicans as they head into the summer campaign blitz.

But labor force participation remained low, and the wage bump that Trump predicted last year remained elusive in April, four months after Congress passed a massive tax cut.

Unemployment fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest since December 2000, and labor force participation was 63 percent, virtually unchanged since the start of 2018 and close to its lowest level since the 1970s. During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump repeatedly questioned the validity of the official unemployment rate because it didn’t take into account those who’d dropped out of the workforce.

Average hourly private-sector wages were up 2.6 percent in April over the previous year, the same as in March. Those percentages don’t take into account the Continue reading “Unemployment drops, but wage growth remains sluggish”

Huge crowd converges on D.C. for gun control rally

Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country are descending on Washington Saturday to demand action from Congress on gun control in a mass demonstration that could rival the annual women’s marches sparked by President Donald Trump’s election.

Spurred by the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month, the “March for Our Lives” has the backing of well-funded gun control groups like Everytown for Gun Safety. They are organizing youth voter registration drives and running crash courses on activism and public policy.

More than 800 “sibling” marches are planned across the globe on Saturday.

Saturday’s demonstration is the culmination of years of inaction by lawmakers as mass shootings have continued unabated in America. Left-leaning activists, feeling stymied by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying, are wielding one of the few tools they have left: taking to the streets to demand change.

More than two hours before the start of the Continue reading “Huge crowd converges on D.C. for gun control rally”

Humane Society CEO resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle resigned Friday amid a spiraling crisis over sexual harassment allegations against him and a former top executive.

Things had gotten progressively worse for Pacelle — one of the most well-known animal rights advocates in the country — since news broke last week of an internal investigation of allegations dating back to 2005. The board of directors cut the investigation short on Thursday and cleared Pacelle of wrongdoing, but Pacelle, facing a staff revolt and fleeing donors, stepped down less than 24 hours later.

“The last few days have been very hard for our entire family of staff and supporters,” board chairman Rick Bernthal said in a statement. “We are profoundly grateful for Wayne’s unparalleled level of accomplishments and service to the cause of animal protection and welfare.”

The Humane Society’s statement did not include remarks from Pacelle, who has denied wrongdoing.

An internal memo Continue reading “Humane Society CEO resigns amid sexual harassment allegations”

Job growth accelerates in January

Job growth accelerated in January, the government reported Friday, giving President Donald Trump a boost following his State of the Union Address.

The Labor Department reported that the economy added 200,000 new jobs, up from 160,000 in December. The unemployment rate was unchanged for the fourth consecutive month at 4.1 percent.

The numbers also lend credence to Trump’s claim during his address Tuesday that wages are beginning to rise under his leadership. Wages in January rose to 2.9 percent over the previous year, compared to 2.7 percent in December, offering a sign that wage growth is beginning to pick up after months of stagnation with the economy nearing full employment.

At the same time, continued growth will put pressure on Trump’s new Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, to raise interest rates — which could pose a threat to the stock market, Trump’s favorite piece of evidence for Continue reading “Job growth accelerates in January”

Female Employees Allege Culture of Sexual Harassment at Humane Society

In September 2016, three employees of the Humane Society of the United States checked into a tiny Airbnb studio in Boston for a six-day business trip. Paul Shapiro, one of the nation’s most consequential animal rights advocates over the past decade, was accompanied by two campaign workers, a young man and a young woman. After a couple of nights, the male employee left to stay somewhere else, according to the 26-year-old female, leaving her alone with Shapiro.

Over the next few days, the woman told POLITICO, Shapiro, 37, repeatedly steered the conversation toward relationships and sex. He suggested she sit next to him on a small loveseat to watch TV on his iPad, which she refused, and stripped down to his underwear in plain view while changing clothes. At one point, Shapiro leaned out of the bathroom naked, save for a bundled-up pair of boxer briefs held over his groin. Continue reading “Female Employees Allege Culture of Sexual Harassment at Humane Society”

Tax payouts deliver a wave of hope and hype

Republicans are basking in a wave of good publicity for their giant tax cut.

WalMart, the nation’s largest private employer, just bumped up its minimum wage. Cash bonuses are flowing to employees from major employers including AT&T, Comcast and big banks due to the big corporate tax cut. Automakers and giant engineering companies are promising big new U.S. investments.

The result is a giddy sense of hope for President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans who pushed through their unpopular tax-cut plan over total opposition from every Democrat in Congress.

“Great news, as a result of our TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT!,” Trump tweeted following the announcement by WalMart that it would boost its minimum wage by a buck, to $11 per hour.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin showed up in the White House briefing room Thursday to discuss how paychecks would climb next month and take a victory lap. Continue reading “Tax payouts deliver a wave of hope and hype”

Schiff: ‘We have a seriously flawed human being in the Oval Office’

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday virtually every member of Congress has concerns about President Donald Trump’s mental state, even if they won’t say so publicly.

"I don’t think there is anyone in Congress, frankly, of either party who does not concur at least privately with those observations and concerns," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on CNN’s "State of the Union." "Certainly, very few are willing to express them publicly in Congress, and I think that’s to the detriment of our institution.

"The big question for us, though," he added, "is, you know, plainly, we have a seriously flawed human being in the Oval Office."

Schiff also said the FBI’s reported investigation of the Clinton Foundation was politically motivated.

"If they are investigating Hillary Clinton, it doesn’t take a genius, let alone a stable genius, to see why," Schiff said, mocking Trump’s assessment Continue reading “Schiff: ‘We have a seriously flawed human being in the Oval Office’”

Haley: ‘There is no turnaround’ with North Korea

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday there’s been "no turnaround" in the administration’s North Korea policy, after President Donald Trump said he’d "absolutely" be willing to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump’s comments Saturday at anews conference at Camp David appeared to change direction from a tweet in October, when he said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was "wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man."

"There is no turnaround," Ambassador Nikki Haley said on ABC’s "This Week." "What he has basically said is, yes, there could be a time where we talk to North Korea but a lot of things have to happen before that actually takes place. They have to stop testing. They have to be willing to talk about banning their nuclear weapons. Those things have to happen. What we’re trying to do is make sure Continue reading “Haley: ‘There is no turnaround’ with North Korea”

Wolff says Trump gave him White House access

Author Michael Wolff said Sunday that President Donald Trump personally granted him access to the White House for his explosive book "Fire and Fury," countering the president’s claims that he turned him away.

In an interview on NBC’s "Meet the Press," Wolff recounted how he got access to the West Wing, saying Trump personally, if reluctantly, allowed him to roam. According to Wolff, the president went as far as to praise his work in front of others. Wolff said the president’s blessing was a critical tool that got him access to White House staff.

"I remember [Trump] seemed deflated: ‘a book, who cares about a book?’" Wolff said. "I said, ‘No, no, I’d really like to do this.’ … And I said, ‘But, you know, is it, is it okay?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ So then I went around and so it was basically me saying, ‘The president Continue reading “Wolff says Trump gave him White House access”

White House adviser Stephen Miller unloads on CNN

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller unloaded on CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday — trashing Michael Wolff as a "garbage author of a garbage book," calling Steve Bannon an "angry and vindictive person" and accusing CNN of "sticking knives" into President Donald Trump’s allies.

The explosive 12-minute interview on "State of the Union" devolved into a shouting match between Tapper and Miller, who accused the network of running "24 hours of negative anti-Trump hysterical coverage" and perpetuating falsehoods from Wolff’s explosive new book, "Fire and Fury."

Trump himself was apparently watching , tweeting after the interview: "Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!"

Miller’s comments came as Trump’s surrogates took to the airwaves Sunday to discredit Wolff’s book, released Friday — and Wolff himself — for questioning Continue reading “White House adviser Stephen Miller unloads on CNN”

Job growth decelerated in December

Passage of a tax cut late last month failed to accelerate job growth, according to the latest numbers from the Labor Department, though wage growth ticked up slightly.

The tax bill’s passage prompted AT&T and other companies to pledge $1,000 bonuses to workers, but the Labor Department reported Friday that 148,000 new jobs were created in December, down from 252,000 jobs in November.

The new job-growth number was still relatively robust, and it’s early days yet. Friday’s report showed that the economy continues to expand in its ninth year of recovery.

The year 2017 saw the creation of 2.1 million jobs, slightly below 2016’s 2.2 million, when Barack Obama was president. President Donald Trump didn’t take office until Jan. 20 last year, but his supporters frequently cite the stock market’s rise after his November election as evidence of Trump’s favorable impact on the economy.

Average hourly private-sector earnings Continue reading “Job growth decelerated in December”

The sexual harassment vote the GOP would like to forget

Not long before a deluge of sexual harassment claims engulfed Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump quietly repealed safeguards to protect hundreds of thousands of American workers from such harassment.

Their target was an August 2016 regulation issued by the Obama Labor Department that required businesses to disclose certain labor violations — including sexual harassment — whenever they bid on large federal contracts.

The vote last year is especially relevant now that Congress, under immense public pressure, is weighing legislation to outlaw the very same secrecy agreements that it voted to keep legal less than a year ago.

The regulation in question was one of 14 reversed by congressional resolutions that Trump signed into law last year as part of his much-touted war against “job-killing regulations.” Besides requiring disclosure, the rule forbade the biggest federal contractors from forcing workers to take their grievances to arbitration, where employees Continue reading “The sexual harassment vote the GOP would like to forget”

The sexual harassment vote the GOP would like to forget

Not long before a deluge of sexual harassment claims engulfed Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump quietly repealed safeguards to protect hundreds of thousands of American workers from such harassment.

Their target was an August 2016 regulation issued by the Obama Labor Department that required businesses to disclose certain labor violations — including sexual harassment — whenever they bid on large federal contracts.

The vote last year is especially relevant now that Congress, under immense public pressure, is weighing legislation to outlaw the very same secrecy agreements that it voted to keep legal less than a year ago.

The regulation in question was one of 14 reversed by congressional resolutions that Trump signed into law last year as part of his much-touted war against “job-killing regulations.” Besides requiring disclosure, the rule forbade the biggest federal contractors from forcing workers to take their grievances to arbitration, where employees Continue reading “The sexual harassment vote the GOP would like to forget”

Jobs growth stays strong with 228,000 rise

Job creation stayed strong in November, the government reported Friday, eliminating any lingering worries about September’s net job losses due to hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

The Labor Department reported 228,000 new jobs in November, down from October’s 244,000 but notably higher than job growth during the months preceding September. October’s gains, the largest of Trump’s presidency, were, economists cautioned, inflated by the previous month’s weather disruptions.

Friday’s report demonstrated that the economy is still expanding at a steady clip in in the ninth year of recovery.

“The job market and the economy are strong,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. “It would be pretty hard to derail.”

The November unemployment was 4.1 percent, the jobs report showed, unchanged from October. Average hourly private-sector earnings rose 2.5 percent in October over the previous year. In October, they were up 2.3 percent.

The release Continue reading “Jobs growth stays strong with 228,000 rise”

Trump administration opposes unions in key Supreme Court case

The Trump administration sided against public employee unions Wednesday evening in a Supreme Court case that could deal the labor movement a crippling financial blow.

In a brief submitted in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Office of Solicitor General sided with a child-support specialist for the state of Illinois who’s challenging AFSCME’s legal right to collect so-called "fair-share fees" from union nonmembers. Unions say such fees are necessary to cover collective bargaining costs for union nonmembers, whom they’re required by law to represent. But plaintiff Mark Janus is arguing that the mandatory fee violates his protected speech under the First Amendment.

Janus’s legal challenge is financed in large part by the conservative Bradley Foundation, which see the case as an opportunity to impose right-to-work rules on public employee unions in all 50 states. Twenty-eight states have passed right-to-work laws blocking private-sector unions from Continue reading “Trump administration opposes unions in key Supreme Court case”

Ivanka Trump struggles to move needle on paid leave

After meeting this week with House and Senate Republicans, Ivanka Trump is no closer to finding a sponsor for her paid leave proposal than when it was proposed in the administration budget last month.

The plan would be a tough sell even for a seasoned politician, which the president’s daughter is not, or in an administration more accustomed than President Donald Trump’s to collaborating closely with Congress. Requiring employers to offer six weeks’ paid leave has little appeal to most Republicans, and limiting the plan to new parents could be a deal-breaker for Democrats.

Trump has said that she’s open to changes, including scrapping the administration plan altogether and starting over. But “any kind of mandate is a nonstarter,” said a Republican congressional aide.

The White House and key Republicans in Congress say it’s still early in the process. “We know how hard it is going to be,” one White Continue reading “Ivanka Trump struggles to move needle on paid leave”

Ivanka Trump meets senators on paid leave, tax credits

Ivanka Trump met with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and a handful of others Tuesday to discuss paid leave and tax credits for families.

The president’s elder daughter met with the senators for about an hour in a small room on the first floor of the Capitol. According to those present, she did not ask senators to support the White House’s proposal, but rather listened to their ideas.

“There is a growing desire in the Republican conference in the Senate and House to address the fundamental fact that there are people in America who have decided they can’t afford to have children because they can’t take a month off of work,” Rubio told reporters. “I think today was a receive mode: Listening to some of the concepts and ideas that are already out there.”

The White House has proposed a six-week leave plan in Continue reading “Ivanka Trump meets senators on paid leave, tax credits”

Trump to sign executive order on apprenticeships

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday that will cut back the federal government’s role in creating and monitoring apprenticeship programs, a move that the White House says will help fill vacant jobs.

The executive order, which Trump was expected to sign in conjunction with an 11 a.m. speech, is another anti-regulatory victory for business interests. It will move the role of developing government-funded apprenticeship programs from the Labor Department to third-party private entities — including trade groups, labor unions and businesses. The third parties will set their own bar for success and submit their metrics to the Labor Department for approval.

The order will also double the amount of money for apprenticeship grants, from $90 million to nearly $200 million a year.

Trump’s aides said the proposal will make it easier for businesses to operate their own unique apprenticeship programs, cutting back red tape. But it Continue reading “Trump to sign executive order on apprenticeships”