Wednesday morning news: January 16, 2019

Brexit plan soundly defeated in House of Commons » The British House of Commons on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

AUDIO: The ayes to the right, 202. The nays to the left, 432.

The prime minister struck the agreement with the EU in November. Many within May’s own party rejected the deal, saying it gave Brussels too much control, while many of her opponents reject Brexit all together.

MAY: The House does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. 

Tuesday’s vote plunges the Brexit process into chaos two months before the nation is set to leave the European Union. And it triggered a confidence vote in May’s government in Parliament today.

MAY: We need to confirm whether this government still enjoys the confidence of the House. I believe that it does, but given the scale and importance of tonight’s vote, it’s right that others have the right to test that question if they wish to do so. 

May is urging lawmakers to find common ground quickly. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29th.

Confirmation hearing begins for attorney general nominee » President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, was in the hot seat on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the start his confirmation hearing.

Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, asked the questions on the mind of every Democrat in the chamber:

FEINSTEIN: Will you commit to providing Mr. Mueller with the resources, funds and time needed to complete his investigation? BARR: Yes. FEINSTEIN: Will you commit to ensuring that special counsel Mueller is not terminated without good cause consistent with department regulations? BARR: Absolutely. 

Barr previously served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush. And while expressing support for President Trump’s agenda, including a barrier along the southern border, he assured lawmakers he will lead an independent Justice Department.

BARR: I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president. 

Barr also told GOP Senator Lindsey Graham he will look into reports that the FBI opened an investigation in 2017 into whether President Trump was working on Russia’s behalf against U.S. interests. He said he’s never heard of the bureau opening such an investigation on an American president.

House rebukes Rep. Steve King over controversial remarks » Lawmakers in the House on Tuesday passed a measure of disapproval, denouncing recent remarks by Iowa Congressman Steve King.

AUDIO: This vote, the yeas are 424. The nays, one. 

Even Congressman King voted in favor of denouncing his own remarks, for which he later apologized.

Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois was the sole lawmaker to oppose the measure because he said it didn’t go far enough.

King was quoted in The New York Times last week saying, quote—“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?”

House GOP leaders responded by blocking King from committee assignments for the next two years. Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney took it a step further on Tuesday, telling reporters…

CHENEY: I think he should find another line of work. I think that we’ve been very clear. I think it was a very significant and serious step to remove him from committees. 

On the House floor Tuesday, King said once again he regrets his remarks and that they do not reflect his values.

Second ruling on contraceptive mandate » A federal judge in Pennsylvania followed a ruling from a California court and issued a nationwide injunction against new exemptions to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate.

The Trump administration’s new rules would have allowed employers with moral or religious objections to birth control and abortifacient drugs to opt out of the mandate to provide employees coverage for the drugs.

Judge blocks citizenship question on 2020 census » Meantime, another federal judge blocked the Trump administration Tuesday from asking about citizenship status on the 2020 census. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In a 277-page decision, Judge Jesse M. Furman did not rule that the question itself is unconstitutional. Rather, he blasted Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for the way in which he added the question.

The judge wrote that Ross “failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him.”

Furman’s ruling won’t be the final word on the issue. The Supreme Court is poised to take up the matter next month.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Sen. Gillibrand announces presidential exploratory committee » Another candidate is apparently planning to vie for the Democratic presidential nomination.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced last night she’s forming an exploratory committee for a White House bid.

The 52-year-old junior senator was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in 2009 when she left to serve as secretary of state. And Gillibrand easily won reelection last year.

She’s the second Democratic senator to announce an exploratory committee, joining Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

(House of Commons/PA via AP) Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, London, Wednesday Jan. 16, 2019. 

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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