Friday morning news: July 26, 2019

Congress passes bipartisan budget bill » Observing a rare cease-fire in their battles with President Trump, the Democratic-controlled House on Thursday easily passed a bipartisan budget bill.

AUDIO: On this vote the yeas are 284 and the nays are 149. This bill is passed.

The White House negotiated more spending for the military. And Democrats got a spending increases for domestic programs. 

The Senate is set to approve the legislation next week. And assuming it does, it will lift the limit on the government’s $22 trillion debt for two years. And it will do away with automatic spending cuts established under a bipartisan 2011 agreement.  

The bill would head off another government shutdown. But with deficits once again soaring, the measure takes no new steps to curb government overspending—as Kentucky GOP Congressman Thomas Massie noted. 

MASSIE: Mr. Speaker, I have an amendment at the desk to change the title of the bill to a bill to kick the can down the road and for other purposes. [Cheers]

But GOP leaders in the House defended the bill as imperfect but necessary. 

Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee said, “The alternatives are very, very bad.”

P.R. governor to resign amid scandal, protests » Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló will step down one week from today. The governor said Thursday…

ROSSELLO: I hope that this decision reflects the will of the citizens of Puerto Rico and is for the well being of Puerto Rico. All that I want is peace and progress for our island. 

That announcement came hours after protesters gathered around the governor’s mansion to call for his ouster. 

AUDIO: [Sound of Puerto Rico protest]

And hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans marched earlier this week in one of the island’s largest protests ever. 

Publication of offensive online messages between the governor and top aides triggered the crisis. In those chat messages, the governor insulted numerous groups, as well as his critics, whom he called “crows.” He joked about dead bodies piling up at the morgue following Maria and asked, “Don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows?” 

More than a dozen officials have resigned since the chat messages became public earlier this month. 

And calls for new leadership weren’t just about words. 

The FBI this month arrested two former Rosselló officials on corruption charges. Mismanagement had sparked a debt crisis, pension cuts, and school closings. 

Justice Department ends freeze on executions » Sixteen years after the federal government froze capital punishment, death row inmates once again face execution for federal crimes. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Five inmates convicted of murdering children now face December or January execution dates at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday ordered the Justice Deparment to resume capital punishment.

Barr said “We owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.” 

Sixty-two people currently sit on federal death row. The last federal execution took place in 2003. 

Five years ago, the Obama administration began a review of lethal injection drugs. 

Instead of using the previous three-drug procedure, Barr said federal prisons will now use pentobarbital. That’s a drug commonly used to euthanize animals. It slows the central nervous system and causes death by respiratory arrest.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Al-Shabaab claims deadly attack in Somalia » The Somali-based extremist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a bombing Wednesday in Mogadishu that killed at least seven people. 

The female suicide bomber blew herself up inside a guarded compound—just yards away from officials meeting to discuss the region’s security.  

Al-Shabaab released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack. The group said it targeted local officials and a new UN envoy from the United States, James Swan.

Local authorities say they are investigating how the attacker got into the compound. It requires visitors to pass through at least four metal detectors.

Trump vetoes bills blocking arms sales » President Trump vetoed several bills this week that would have blocked the sale of billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: In May, the Trump administration announced it would invoke emergency powers to sell about $8 billion in arms to the two countries—bypassing congressional review. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers passed three bills blocking the sale last month. They passed the measures to rebuke the president’s attempt to thwart congressional review and to protest U.S. support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen’s civil war. Lawmakers grew more concerned about ties to the Saudis following the muder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

But President Trump vetoed the bills on Wednesday. He called the arms sales necessary to protect important relationships with allies and to counter the threat Iran poses in the region. 

Lawmakers likely won’t have enough votes to override the president’s veto.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

U.K.’s new prime minister calls on EU to rethink Brexit » New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that he and his administration will throw themselves into Brexit negotiations, “with the greatest energy and determination”…

JOHNSON: And in a spirit of friendship. And I hope that the EU will be equally ready, and that they will rethink their current refusal to make any changes to the withdrawal agreement. 

On Thursday, EU Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker and the prime minister had their first phone conversation since Johnson took office. And Juncker once again said the existing Brexit deal is “the best and only agreement possible.”

Johnson said he is committed to exiting the European Union by the October 31st deadline “whatever the circumstances.” And he said “to do otherwise would cause a catastrophic loss of confidence in our political system.” 

(AP Photo /Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo) Demonstrators protest against Gov. Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, July 23, 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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