Friday morning news: March 23, 2018

Spending bill » The U.S. Senate is wrestling today with a $1.3 trillion spending bill, which sailed through the House on Thursday. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the legislation a “win,” and shrugged off criticism that members didn’t have enough time to read the bill.

RYAN: I would say that what’s important is that this bill has been worked on for months. We passed these bills in the House last September.

Members had less than a day to review the final bill, which is over 22-hundred pages long. Still, the legislation to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year … passed the House on a vote of 2-56 to 1-67.

The legislation is phase one of a two-year budget deal that party leaders hammered out earlier this year. It includes a substantial boost in spending on both Republican and Democratic priorities. For Republicans … $80 billion dollars for the Pentagon, plus nearly 2 billion for border security.

And for Democrats, $63 billion for domestic discretionary spending:

SCHUMER: Infrastructure, education, opioid relief and more.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer heard there, urging his colleagues to vote “yes.” But some conservatives are calling the massive spending bill irresponsible, noting it’s expected to add $300 billion to the deficit — just days after the national debt reached $21 trillion.

As of now, it appears the Senate likely won’t vote on the bill until tomorrow, which would mean at least a brief government shutdown.

Trump replaces McMaster » President Trump is replacing his national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The president announced Thursday that former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton take over the post next month.

Bolton has served under each of the last three Republican presidents, dating back to the Ronald Reagan administration.

Trump and McMaster had reportedly clashed for months. But the president on Thursday thanked McMaster for his service, saying he’s–quote … “done an outstanding job and will always remain my friend.”

Trump announces China tariffs » The president also announced on Thursday that he’s hitting China with new tariffs to level the playing field on trade.

TRUMP: The word is reciprocal. That’s the word I want everyone to remember.

He called the new tariffs on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese imports a “mirror tax,” adding … “if they charge us, we charge them the same thing.”

TRUMP: That’s the way it’s gotta be. That’s not the way it is — for many, many years — for many decades it has not been that way. And I will say, the people we’re negotiating with, smilingly, they really agree with us. I really believe they cannot believe they’ve gotten away with this for so long.

The president Thursday calling the $375 billion trade imbalance with China “the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world.”

Markets plunged on news of the tariffs, amid fears of a global trade war. The Dow closed 725 points down. Nasdaq and S&P 500 also slumped.

The Trump administration also announced on Thursday, however, that it will exempt several more allies from new tariffs on steel and aluminum, which take effect today. The European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea will all get a pass, at least initially. The administration had already exempted Canada and Mexico from those tariffs while NAFTA negotiations continue.

Austin bomber update » Police in Austin, Texas, say they still don’t know why 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt sent a series of package bombs to unsuspecting victims.

Conditt left behind a 25-minute cell phone video, which Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says he considers a confession. Manley said in the video, Conditt describes the seven bombs he constructed, including the one he used to take his own life as police closed in on Wednesday.

The video revealed numerous key details, but one thing it did not reveal … was a motive. 

MANLEY: Anytime there’s an incident like this, people want a motive. They want a reason. They want to know why, and there really is no reason. And we’re trying to assign rationality to an irrational act, and it was a chilling insight into this. 

Manley said the video did not suggest ties to terrorism. Instead he called it “the outcry of a very challenged young man, talking about challenges in his personal life.”

Conditt was unemployed. He attended Austin Community College before dropping out in 2012.

The bombs Conditt is accused of making killed two and injured four others.

Maryland shooting update » Meantime, police in Maryland do have a possible motive for Tuesday’s shooting at a rural high school in southern Maryland. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Investigators say the student who shot two classmates at Great Mills High School … was a “lovesick teen.

17-year-old Austin Rollins and one of his victims, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, were in a relationship but recently broke up. Police believe she was the target of the attack.

Willey remains in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. The 14-year-old boy shot in the thigh during the incident left an area hospital on Wednesday.

Police say the weapon Rollins used in the attack … was his father’s legally purchased Glock handgun.

Friends described Rollins as a good student who had shown no warning signs of violence.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

And I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: John Stonestreet on the ethics of separating immigrant families. Plus, your listener feedback.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump shows off a signed Presidential Memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Thursday, March 22, 2018, in Washington.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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