Friday morning news: February 15, 2019

President Trump to sign funding bill, declare emergency » President Trump announced Thursday that he will sign a bipartisan bill to fund the government and then declare a national emergency and perhaps use other executive powers to get the rest of the money for a border wall.

The funding bill includes only about $1.4 billion of the $5.7 billion the White House wants for a wall.

That news drew strong reactions from Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

SCHUMER: If President Trump decides to go forward with a disaster declaration, he would be making a tremendous mistake. Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act. 

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the president is well within his rights.

MCCONNELL: And I’ve indicated to him that I’m going to support the national emergency declaration. 

The Senate approved the funding bill last night. The House followed suit hours later.

The massive $330 billion spending measure funds nine cabinet agencies and prevents a second partial government shutdown. Aside from the $1.4 billion for border barriers, it includes more than $1 billion for other border security measures. That includes funds for surveillance equipment and hiring customs officers and immigration judges.

Rep. Kinzinger deployed to border with Air Nat. Guard unit » As lawmakers passed the funding bill Thursday, one member of Congress wasn’t in Washington for the vote.

Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger is a Lt. Colonel in the Air National Guard. His unit was deployed to the southern border this week, part of a mission to support the Border Patrol.

Kinzinger’s communications director said the congressman’s Washington and Illinois offices will remain open during his deployment.

Senate confirms William Barr as attorney general » Lawmakers in the Senate have confirmed President Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr.

AUDIO: The yeas are 54. They nays are 45. The nomination is confirmed. 

That means Barr will head the Justice Department for a second time. He served as attorney general for two years under President George H.W. Bush.

Democrats opposed his confirmation because of critical remarks he made in the past about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and because he would not commit to publicly releasing Mueller’s final report.

Barr will replace Matt Whitaker, who’s been serving as Acting Attorney General since Jeff Sessions resigned last November.

Denver teachers, district reach agreement to end strike » Denver teachers returned to their classrooms Thursday after a three-day walkout. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The two sides reached a deal that will increase teacher pay as much as 11 percent with built-in cost-of-living increases. It also provides more opportunities for future raises.

More than half of the district’s almost 5,000 teachers went on strike Monday, but schools remained open, staffed by administrators and the teachers who stayed.

The district said some of the extra money being put into teacher pay will come from cutting about 150 jobs in the school district’s central office and eliminating bonuses for those staffers.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

British House of Commons voices continued disapproval of Brexit deal » British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan suffered another defeat on Thursday, losing a symbolic vote in the House of Commons.

AUDIO: They ayes to the right, 258. The nos to the left, 30.

May lost the vote primarily because she’s lost support from members of her own party. One of the the big issues for pro-Brexit lawmakers is the measure they were voting on implicitly rules out a no-deal Brexit and they believe that would weaken May’s hand.  

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29th.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, joined by Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., center, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the top Senate border security negotiator, speak to reporters about the bipartisan compromise worked out last night to avert another government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 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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