Wednesday morning news: January 23, 2019

Senate set to vote on dueling proposals to end shutdown » The Senate is set to vote tomorrow on two competing plans to end the partial government shutdown.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is backing President Trump’s compromise proposal. It would grant $5.7 billion for a border wall, while extending legal protections for millions of young immigrants.

MCCONNELL: To reject this proposal, Democrats would have to prioritize political combat with the president ahead of federal workers, ahead of DACA recipients, ahead of border security, and ahead of stable and predictable government funding. 

Meantime, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing a House-backed bill that would open the government for two weeks without funding for a wall.

SCHUMER: For the first time, we will get a vote on whether to open up the government without any decision, one way or the other, on border security. 

Democrats say they will only negotiate with the White House after the government is once again open for business. But Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still say that have no intention of agreeing to fund a wall.

Supreme Court allows transgender military policy, for now » The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Trump administration can immediately implement limits on transgender soldiers. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In 2017, President Trump put a hold on an Obama-era plan to allow transgender people to enlist in the military and to let those already serving do so as their preferred gender.

Lower courts intervened and ordered the military to keep an open recruitment policy. Then in February of last year, former Defense Secretary James Mattis proposed allowing transgender people to serve but only according to their biological sex and so long as they had no history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The high court on Tuesday said that policy can take effect while the debate continues in the lower courts.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

High court to give gun rights a hearing » Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said it would take up a case against New York City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun outside city limits.

This will be the first gun rights case the court has reviewed in nine years. Three New York residents filed the lawsuit along with the state’s National Rifle Association affiliate.

The New York City ordinance allows people to carry handguns from their homes to gun ranges inside city limits but not beyond. The residents who sued want to shoot at target ranges or take their guns to second homes outside the city.

High court declines appeal of Christian football coach » But the high court said it would not take up another prominent case at this time.

That case involves Bremerton, Washington, high school football coach Joe Kennedy who was fired for kneeling on the field to pray silently after games in view of students and fans.  

Mike Berry with First Liberty Institute, which represents Kennedy, told WORLD Radio the legal fight is far from over. He noted that while the high court declined to review Kennedy’s appeal for now…

BERRY: In a relatively rare move, four of the justices issued a statement saying that although they disagreed with the decision of the Ninth Circuit, they think that there needs to be more facts and questions answered. 

First Liberty Institute says it looks forward to answering those questions at the trial level to “give the court another opportunity to protect” religious expression.

American accused of spying appears in Russian court » The lawyer for an American man being held in Moscow on suspicion of spying conceded on Tuesday that his client was in possession of a flash drive containing classified documents. But he says his client, 48-year-old Michigan resident Paul Whelan, did not know what he had.

Whelan works as global security director for an auto parts manufacturer. His family said he was in Moscow for a wedding when Russian officials arrested him last month. He made his first public appearance in court on Tuesday kept in a glass cage.

The lawyer said an unnamed person gave Whelan the flash drive, which he thought contained only travel information. He faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in a Russian prison.

At least 45 killed in Afghanistan attack » The death toll continues to rise following a brazen attack this week on a military base in Afghanistan. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has that story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Officials said Tuesday that Taliban militants killed at least 45 people in the coordinated attack on the base about 25 miles east of Kabul.  

It began when a suicide bomber rammed a Humvee loaded with explosives into the main building on the base. Other militants followed, killing security guards in a barrage of gunfire.

Most of those killed were inside the main building when the explosion occurred. Seventy others were injured.

The base is an Afghan intelligence compound, which also serves as a training facility for a pro-government militia. It housed some of the best-trained soldiers in the country.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined at left by Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters following a weekly policy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 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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