Monday morning news: March 26, 2018

Spending bill » President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill into law over the weekend, which averted a government shutdown but is expected to increase the deficit by $300 billion. On Sunday, the White House defended his decision to sign the bill, noting it wasn’t the president’s first choice.

SCHLAPP: The president had sent his budget up last year and they never voted on it. This is what Congress put forward.

White House Senior Communications Advisor Mercedes Schlapp.

The bill funds the government through the end of the fiscal year. The president and many Republicans say they weren’t happy with the size of the legislation but supported it in order to provide more funds to the military. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

GRAHAM: It was an easy vote for me. It’s not a perfect vote by any means. It’s not a perfect bill by any means, but it’s 650 billion dollars to our military who desperately needs the money to rebuild the military.

Democrats bargained for an additional 63 billion dollars for domestic discretionary spending.

Youth gun-violence rally » Demonstrators gathered for hundreds of rallies across the country on Saturday to call for more action to prevent gun violence. WORLD Radio’s Brigitte Sylvestre was on hand for a march in Parkland, Florida.

BRIGITTE SYLVESTRE, REPORTER: Thousands of students and parents gathered on a sunny day in Pine Trails Park for the March for Our Lives rally.

AUDIO: (Parkland rally nat sound)

Some wore maroon t-shirts honoring the victims of last month’s shooting at a Parkland high school. Others wore shirts that read “March for Our Lives” as they sang, clapped and united in calls for stricter gun laws.

AUDIO: I came out today because I have a senior in high school and it just hit a little too close to home. And we all need to come together and support the ban on assault rifles.

While many said they want assault-style weapons banned, student organizers also called for measures with broader support like stronger mental health screenings and bulletproof doors & windows in schools … as well as stricter background checks.

After the rally, demonstrators made a two mile march to Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school where 17 people were killed in the February 14th shooting.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Brigitte Sylvestre reporting from Parkland, Florida.

Transgender military order » President Trump issued an order over the weekend significantly reducing the ability of transgender troops to serve in the military. The president last year called for a ban on all transgender service members, but four federal courts ruled against him.

The order issued Friday follows recommendations from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. While allowing limited exceptions, it disqualifies those with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria that could require costly medical treatment.

The Pentagon says the new order has no practical effect, since the military must recruit and retain transgender people according to current law. But the Justice Department says it will defend the Pentagon’s authority to–quote “implement personnel policies they have determined are necessary to best defend our nation” and would ask the courts to lift all related preliminary injunctions.

Stormy Daniels interview » Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress who said she had a 2006 affair with President Trump is speaking out.

Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, signed a non-disclosure contract for which she received $130,000. But she told CBS’ 60 Minutes that wasn’t the only reason she kept quiet. She claims she was threatened in 2011.

DANIELS: I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. And a guy walked up on me and said to me “leave Trump alone, forget the story.” And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said “that’s a beautiful little girl. It would be a shame if something happened to her mom, and then he was gone.”  

President Trump has repeatedly denied having an affair with Clifford.

France attack » A French police officer who volunteered to take the place of a hostage in a terror attack in southern France has died. WORLD Radio’s Jim Henry has details.

JIM HENRY, REPORTER: Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame was among the first to respond Friday to the attack at a supermarket in Trebes.

Once on the scene, he gave up his weapon and exchanged himself for a female hostage. When police stormed the Super-U in Trèbes, the lone Islamic terrorist shot and stabbed Beltrame before he was killed by officers. Three others died and 15 were were injured in the attack.

The 44-year old Beltrame died early Saturday of his injuries.

In a statement, French President Emmanuel Macron said of Beltrame— “In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he fell as a hero.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio— I’m Jim Henry.

And I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead, Legal Docket. Plus, Mary Coleman on the search for moral leadership.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 23, 2018, about the $1.3 trillion spending bill. 

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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