The Federal Communications Commission wants to redirect efforts to help the hurricane-damaged U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, proposing that $954 million go towards restoring and expanding broadband networks on the islands ahead of the 2018 hurricane season.
The plan, published Tuesday by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, proposes spending $64 million on short-term restoration projects, like repairing power lines and building temporary cell sites, as well as $890 million more to repair and expand broadband connectivity and bolster data technology.
About $256 million of this proposed funding would come as entirely new funds from the FCC's Universal Service Fund, which is supported by all telecommunications service providers. The rest would come from "repurposing" existing funds that are already being directed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the agency explained.
About 95 percent of cell sites in Puerto Rico and 75 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands were knocked out of service after the Caribbean was hit hard by Hurricanes Maria and Irma last fall, Reuters reports. More than five months later, data from the Department of Energy shows that around 12.5 percent of Puerto Ricans are still without power. Summer Meza
President Trump's name may soon grace a building in Jerusalem — and it won't be a hotel. Reuters reported Wednesday that Israel's transportation minister, Israel Katz, wants to name a proposed train station in Jerusalem after Trump as a token of gratitude after the president's controversial decision to recognize the disputed city as Israel's capital.
“Trump Station" would be located in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, and near the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism. The hypothetical station has been proposed as part of a larger project to link the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with a high-speed train.
Of course, the Western Wall isn't the only holy site in Jerusalem; in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City lies the Dome of the Rock, which is important to both Jews and Muslims and plays a huge part in the conflict over the ownership of Jerusalem. The entire Old City, in fact, is technically within the boundaries of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as their capital city. But Israel has long claimed Jerusalem as its capital — hence why Katz has proposed honoring Trump, who bucked international consensus to designate Jerusalem as Israel's.
Reuters notes the plan for the Western Wall station has yet to gain full approval, but barring unforeseen circumstances — like say, violent protests over the incursion by Israel into disputed land — The Washington Post reports that the station could be ready as soon as next year in Jerusalem. Kelly O'Meara Morales
National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn suggested Friday that the White House wanted the final version of the Republican tax bill to include deductions for state income taxes — just one day after The Washington Post reported that wealthy friends of President Trump had complained to him that neither of the bills passed by Congress included those deductions.
"No one really wants tax increases here," Cohn said during an interview with Bloomberg. The House measure, which passed last month, eliminates the deduction for state and local income taxes, as does the Senate measure, which passed last week.
Instead, under the proposed bills, Americans are allowed deductions of up to $10,000 for local property taxes. The average American pays a little more than $2,000 in local property taxes, WalletHub reports, but property and income taxes vary from state to state and are generally higher in northeastern states than in other parts of the country. In New York County, for example, the average resident claims $24,898 in local and state tax deductions.
Bloomberg notes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Republican leadership have said that they would consider including a deduction of state income taxes in the final tax bill, but only up to the same $10,000 cap as local property taxes.
While Cohn suggested to Bloomberg that the White House would accept that compromise, such a deal might not be enough for Trump's rich friends. Kathy Wylde, who runs a major business advocacy group called the Partnership for New York City, told The Washington Post that she has tried to rally business leaders and executives to talk the White House into action on the income deductions. "They're killing the goose that lays the golden egg," Wylde said. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), in an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd about rising health-care costs, proposed last week that emergency rooms should be able to turn patients away.
In the interview, Black cited her experience working in health care to explain why mandating that emergency room workers see every patient who comes in is ineffective. "I'm an emergency room nurse," she told Todd on Friday. "There are people that came into my emergency room that I, the nurse, was the first one to see them. I could have sent them to a walk-in clinic or their doctor the next day, but because of a law that Congress put into place ... you took away our ability to say, 'No, an emergency room is not the proper place.'"
Black is seemingly referring to the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which banned hospitals from transferring uninsured patients from private to public hospitals. "That crowds the emergency room," Black said of the directive. "It drives the cost of emergencies up." When Todd asked Black if she was advocating a repeal of the law, she replied, "I would get rid of a law that says that you are not allowed, as a health-care professional, to make that decision about whether someone can be appropriately treated the next day, or at a walk-in clinic, or at their doctor."