President Trump Has Kept His Promises

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USA Today
“The facts are clear: No president has done more in two years to strengthen our military and reform the Department of Veterans Affairs to better serve our nation’s heroes than President Donald Trump,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie writes. “Until Trump, no candidate in history had made serving our veterans the centerpiece of a presidential campaign. In office, Trump has kept his promise,” improving the lives of America’s veterans through a number of key initiatives that enact more reform across the organization than at any other time in decades.

These impactful reforms include the MISSION Act, which provides real health care choice to eligible veterans, and the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which makes VA one of the most accountable agencies in the federal government.

OUR VIEW: How Trump can make it up to the military and ‘the vets’ for recent fails

Trump has also done more in less than two years to improve transparency for veterans than any of his predecessors. In contrast to every other health system in the nation, VA now posts wait times online for every VA medical center across the country, and it updates them on a weekly basis. The agency is also the first hospital system in the nation to post online its opioid prescription rates, accountability and settlement information, and chief executive travel.

Under Trump, VA is also adopting a joint electronic health record system that aligns with the one used by the Department of Defense. This transition will result in all Defense and VA patient data residing in one common system, better integrating information across components and enabling seamless care as those who fight for our country’s freedoms transition back into civilian life.

Make no mistake: President Trump has kept his promises to keep our country safe, revitalize our military, and reform VA. Not since President Lincoln has another president done more to “care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” just as our nation deserves.

Trump Embraces Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

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USA Today
This week, President Trump put his full support behind historic criminal justice reform in an announcement from the White House, USA Todayreports. “The ‘First Step Act,’ developed by [Jared] Kushner and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, is designed to improve rehabilitation programs for former prisoners and give judges more discretion in sentencing offenders for nonviolent crime, particularly drug offenders.”

Supporters said they hoped the president’s support could speed the legislation’s approval, possibly before the new Congress is seated in January. Others were skeptical lawmakers would move that fast.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., released a joint statement praising Trump’s endorsement and said it would allow the proposal’s sponsors to “quickly take a critical first step towards reforming our criminal justice system.” The legislation also would place federal prisoners closer to home, allow more home confinement for lower-level offenders and expand prison employment programs.

Trump announced his support at a White House event where he was flanked by lawmakers and joined by Kushner, who has made criminal justice reform a centerpiece of his portfolio. Members of both parties have long predicted criminal justice reform had the potential to win bipartisan support, but it has taken years for the legislation to materialize. “Did I hear that word ‘bipartisan’? Did I hear that word? That’s a nice word,” Trump said.

But Trump also used the event to take a shot at President Bill Clinton, who signed a sweeping crime bill in 1994 that funded community police officers and drug courts but also mandated sentences for certain crimes. Trump described the latest effort as rolling back parts of the “Clinton crime law.”

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who has led criminal justice reform efforts, called for the Congressional Budget Office to study those concerns. “There’s a tendency around here to introduce a bill with a title, discuss the title and then go to the press conference,’’ he said.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said he doubted Congress would act before next year. He said he expected more action in the next session and noted that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said he is likely to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed interest in the issue. “I think there’s leadership that could bring about some change,” Cardin said. “We need to do it. We’re losing too many of our people. It’s ridiculous.”

Earlier this year, the House passed a version of the bill sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, D-N.Y., which Trump also backed. Critics, including some Democrats, said that bill didn’t address the controversial issue of mandatory minimum sentencing.

Advocacy groups supporting criminal justice reforms praised the Senate compromise, saying it’s long overdue. “At a time when our nation feels more divided than ever, one thing nearly all Americans agree on is the need to fix our broken criminal justice system,” Holly Harris, executive director of the Justice Action Network, a coalition of groups, said in a statement.

It’s the Right Time to Pass Criminal Justice Reform

Donald Trump
New York Post
“With President Trump leading the way, the push is on to get serious criminal justice reform done by Christmas. Resisters on the left and right would be fools to stand in the way,” the New York Post editorial board writes. The bipartisan FIRST STEP Act would fund educational and vocational training programs in American prisons while easing certain mandatory-minimum sentencing rules and extend a 2010 law that helps drug offenders serving excessively long federal sentences. (Violent offenders aren’t eligible for reduced sentences.)

It also would move low-risk inmates closer to their home communities to more readily allow family visitation — which is strongly tied to successful reentry and lower recidivism.

Trump has it right: “We’re all better off when former inmates can receive [a second chance] and re-enter society as law-abiding, productive citizens.”

The Senate bill adds four new provisions not (yet) in the House measure. A key one allows judges to more often impose sentences shorter than the mandatory minimum for low-level crimes.

That addresses an issue the left had with the House bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-B’klyn) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.). If House Republicans reject the additions now, they’re simply giving Democrats a victory they can claim when they take over in January.

Credit presidential adviser Jared Kushner with getting this bipartisan achievement nearly to the finish line. Too bad some Democratic supporters of the measure opted out of Wednesday’s White House effort to build the final momentum. “Resistance” shouldn’t mean sacrificing the very people you purport to champion.

Kevin Ring, head of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, praised Trump’s endorsement as a “modern-day ‘Nixon goes to China’ moment.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer should work with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get this done: Show that neither party is controlled by its extremes.

Donald Trump Honors Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth in First Medal of Freedom Ceremony

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USA Today
“President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to seven people Friday, including the late rock ‘n’ roll star Elvis Presley. The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the United States’ national interests and security, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” Cat Hofacker reports.

Elvis Presley is waiting in Gov. Buford Ellington office

The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the United States’ national interests and security, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

At the Friday ceremony, Trump said it was “very, very special” to be granting the award. “It’s a great honor,” he said. “Melania and I are thrilled to welcome you to the White House as we honor the recipients of our nation’s highest civilian honor.” And although Presley is one of the biggest names on the list – with the White House release calling him an “enduring and beloved American icon” – other recipients are rock stars in their own right. “America is blessed to have the most skill, passion and talent of anywhere on earth,” Trump said at the ceremony. “We are truly a great nation and we’re a nation that is doing really, really well right now.”

Trump also posthumously honored late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and baseball legend Babe Ruth. The White House release described Ruth as the “personification of ‘America’s Pastime.'” Trump called Scalia “one of the greatest jurors ever to serve our country.”

“Universally admired for his towering intellect, brilliant wit and fierce devotion to our founding principles, Justice Scalia has made a deep and lasting impact on the history of our nation,” Trump said.

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Other recipients included Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is retiring after 41 years in the Senate, and GOP donor and philanthropist Miriam Adelson. Trump also honored football stars Alan Page and Roger Staubach, making him the first president to award the Medal of Freedom to professional football players.

Trump cited Staubach and Page’s work in providing scholarships and supporting charitable causes across the country.

“Roger, you inspire Americans across the country to work hard, dream big and always push on to victory,” Trump said.

Established by President Harry Truman in 1945, the Medal of Freedom has been awarded to over 500 civilians. This was Trump’s first time giving the award.

Boom: Record High Business Optimism, Need for Employees at 45-Year High

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Washington Examiner
“The record level of economic optimism among small businesses is continuing, and those firms trying to fill jobs is at a 45-year high,” Paul Bedard reports. “The National Federation of Independent Businesses said the optimism has only been this high three times in the last 43 years and has consistently been high all year long.”

“For two years, small business owners have expressed record levels of optimism and are proving to be a driving force in this rapidly growing economy,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan. “The October optimism index further validates that when small businesses get tax relief and are freed from regulatory shackles, they thrive and the whole economy prospers.” This year’s level has floated between 104 and 108 and in October was 107.4.Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 8.59.31 AM.png

In their report, NFIB said, “Overall, small businesses continue to support the 3 percent plus growth of the economy and add significant numbers of new workers to the employment pool. The percent of owners with one or more unfilled openings is at a 45 year record high level. Employment is growing faster than the population (210,000 per month this year to date), so the gains in jobs are being “fueled” in part by increased labor force participation. Consumer optimism is also running at near-record levels, supported by rising wages and plentiful job openings.”

Vice President Pence: Veterans Day – Veterans Have No Better Friend than President Trump

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-Fox News
“President Trump has signed the most substantial veterans’ health-care reform in a generation, making Veterans Choice a permanent part of American law,” Vice President Pence writes in an op-ed for Fox News. “Today our veterans have access to the real-time, world-class care they have earned, whether at a private health-care provider or the Department of Veterans Affairs.” This president and our administration understand that veterans’ benefits are not entitlements – they’re earned. They are the ongoing compensation for services rendered in the uniform of the United States. And since the outset of our administration, we’ve taken decisive action to make good on our promise to the heroes who’ve served.

President Trump has signed the most substantial veterans’ health-care reform in a generation, making Veterans Choice a permanent part of American law. Today our veterans have access to the real-time, world-class care they have earned, whether at a private health-care provider or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This law will also improve the VA’s ability to recruit and retain quality health-care professionals, give veterans access to walk-in care, and expand health-care choices, including options for telehealth and mental health services.

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President Trump has taken action to hold the VA accountable, signing the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. Since our election, more than 4,200 VA employees have been fired, suspended or demoted for negligent behavior.

We enacted the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which will improve our efforts to provide retroactive benefits to America’s veterans. The VA has already identified and paid over $115 million over the last year.

We have also made historic progress towards ending veteran homelessness. Thanks to our reforms at the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 54,000 veterans found permanent housing and access to supportive services last year.

And President Trump has taken steps to increase opportunities for veterans after they return to civilian life, including through enhancing and expanding the post-9/11 GI Bill to a lifetime benefit.

Our actions are having a real impact on the men and women who have sacrificed for our country: health-care wait times are down, VA accountability is up, and under our administration unemployment among veterans has reached its lowest level in nearly two decades.

While we honor our veterans by ensuring they receive the benefits they have earned, we also honor them by supporting the men and women who serve in the armed forces today.

With the strong support of veterans’ organizations across the nation, President Trump signed into law the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. We are once again giving our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission.

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The United States of America remains the land of the free because we are still the home of the brave. The men and women who’ve served in our armed forces are those brave, and today all of us should do our part to honor their service and appreciate their sacrifice.

So on this 100th Veterans’ Day, I encourage every American to thank a veteran. Outside the grocery store, at your place of worship, or maybe over the backyard fence, I urge you to extend your hand, look them in the eye, and say those words that every veteran deserves to hear: “Thank you for your service.”

To all of those who’ve worn the uniform, on behalf of a grateful nation, Happy Veterans Day.

Sen. Mitch McConnell: Will Dems Work With Us, or Simply Put Partisan Politics Ahead of the Country?

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-Fox News
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) lays out how the expanded Republican Senate majority plans to help govern in the coming two years

Both houses of Congress have taken swift action to right-size a bloated federal regulatory state. The Senate has shattered records in confirming the president’s well-qualified judicial nominees, including two outstanding jurists to serve on the Supreme Court. And together, we passed the first comprehensive reform of the nation’s tax code in a generation. Already, Americans’ paychecks are growing, consumer confidence is high and unemployment has reached a near 50-year low.

After this prolific run, I was not surprised to be asked over the past week about just how much the American people can expect from the next Congress under divided leadership. What can we realistically accomplish?

I have good news: reports of the death of bipartisanship in Washington have been wildly exaggerated. In fact, some of the most significant accomplishments of this Congress have been delivered with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.

Under bipartisan committee leadership, we took major steps toward restoring regular order to our appropriations process. The Senate passed more funding measures before the beginning of this fiscal year than at any point in the last two decades.

The measures included the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in 15 years, which put an end to the Obama-era atrophy of our armed forces.

Working closely with counterparts in the House, we found common ground on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. In fact, America’s Water Infrastructure Act – designed to improve interstate commerce, water quality and flood safety – passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1.

What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?

Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference.

That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.

But however Democrats interpret the latest message from voters, Senate Republicans will continue our commitment to delivering results.

“We’ll keep working to lift the burden on American job creators and small businesses. We’ll stay focused on helping communities across the country seize new opportunities and realize greater prosperity. We’ll seek new ways to make life easier for working families.”

Most importantly, in the face of whichever tactics the far left chooses to employ next, we’ll continue to stand for the rule of law. We’ll continue to confirm more well-qualified nominees to serve on our nation’s courts.

This is what the Senate’s Republican majority was elected to do. And we’ll continue to get it done.

Pence, Abe Agree on North Korea Sanctions, New Trade Talks

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The Associated Press
While visiting Tokyo this week, Vice President Mike Pence joined Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and “reaffirmed the need to keep sanctions on North Korea to achieve its denuclearization as they showcased their bilateral alliance, while Pence also urged Japan to do more to reduce the U.S. trade deficit,” Mari Yamaguchi reports.

Pence and Abe gave reassurances of their cooperation on North Korea’s denuclearization. Pence said the U.S. will continue to put diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea and urged all Indo-Pacific nations to maintain pressure and sanctions until the complete denuclearization of North Korea is achieved. Abe said Japan and the U.S. will continue to work together to get North Korea, which has hard-working people and rich resources, realize it has a bright future if it keeps its promise.

North Korea has embraced diplomacy this year after its repeated missile and nuclear tests have escalated tension and fears of war, but Japanese and U.S. officials remain skeptical if the North will actually abandon its nuclear weapons, suspecting that Pyongyang may be trying to get sanctions eased.



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