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Nation & World Briefs


Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Senate narrowly approves Brownback for religious freedom job

WASHINGTON — The Republican-led Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved Sam Brownback’s bid to be U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom, setting the stage for him to resign the governorship in Kansas after seven contentious years in office.

With two Republican senators absent, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Capitol Hill to cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Brownback, a favorite of Christian conservatives for his views on same-sex marriage and abortion. The vote was along party lines, 50-49, underscoring the narrow margin Republicans hold. Pence’s vote also was needed earlier in the day to get Brownback’s nomination over a procedural hurdle.

Fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will be elevated to governor in Kansas once Brownback submits his resignation.

Kushners drop much-criticized effort to raise Chinese cash

NEW YORK — The family real estate company once run by Jared Kushner is no longer seeking $150 million from Chinese investors for a New Jersey building project after months of criticism that the company was playing up its White House ties to raise the money.

A person familiar with the fundraising effort said this week that the company has stopped trying to raise money from wealthy Chinese to help pay for One Journal Square, a planned 66-story residential, retail and office complex in Jersey City, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Ethics experts blasted the Kushner Cos. last May after Jared Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, mentioned her brother at a presentation to prospective investors in Shanghai. The presentation included a photo of Donald Trump, and Chinese ads included vague promises that the project had “government support” and was “founded by celebrity developers.”

White House to unveil immigration framework

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Wednesday that it would be unveiling a legislative framework on immigration that it hopes can pass both the House and the Senate and land on the president’s desk.

“After decades of inaction by Congress, it’s time we work together to solve this issue once and for all,” Sanders said.

Meanwhile, senators from both parties started a fresh search for their own compromise immigration legislation, but leaders conceded that the effort won’t be easy and were already casting blame should the effort falter.

Around three dozen senators, evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats, planned to meet late Wednesday in what No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said was a chance to “get people thinking about a framework that might actually work.”

Their goal is to produce a bipartisan package to protect from deportation the “Dreamers” — hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. illegally after being brought here as children — and to provide billions to toughen border security.

Trump heads to Swiss forum to push economic policies

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is ready to play salesman as he heads to an economic summit in the Swiss Alps, making the case that his “America First” agenda can go hand-in-hand with global cooperation.

Trump is set to arrive at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday to declare that the United States is open for business. But the protectionist-leaning president’s attendance at an annual gathering for free-trade-loving political and business elites has raised eyebrows. And his decision to sign new tariffs boosting American manufacturers this week has prompted fresh concerns about his nationalist tendencies.

“I’m going to Davos right now to get people to invest in the United States,” Trump said Wednesday before his overnight flight to Europe. “I’m going to say: ‘Come into the United States. You have plenty of money.’ But I don’t think I have to go, because they’re coming, they’re coming at a very fast clip.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin got to Davos ahead of Trump and insisted Wednesday that the United States supports free trade.

“‘America First’ does mean working with the rest of the world,” said Mnuchin, who is leading the largest U.S. delegation ever to attend the exclusive gathering. “It just means that President Trump is looking out for American workers and American interests, no different than he expects other leaders would look out for their own.”

From Associated Press