Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 4, 2017

House Republicans scheduled to vote on new health bill, Comey feels "mildly nauseous" that he may have swayed election, and more


House schedules Thursday vote on GOP health plan

House Republican leaders said Wednesday that they had lined up enough support to pass their revised health-care bill, and scheduled a vote for Thursday. GOP lawmakers and the White House failed in their first attempt to replace key elements of ObamaCare, and their second attempt appeared bogged down over concern among moderates that changes made to win over hardline conservatives would threaten coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. House Republican leaders scheduled the vote after winning over some holdouts by adding $8 billion to help cover insurance costs for people with pre-existing conditions. "We have enough votes," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday night. "It'll pass."


Comey 'mildly nauseous' at thought he might have influenced election

FBI Director James Comey told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the thought that his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation might have influenced last year's presidential election made him "mildly nauseous." Comey defended his decision to notify Congress on Oct. 28, just two weeks before the vote, about new emails possibly related to the investigation into the private email server Clinton used as secretary of state. He said that failing to inform Congress would have amounted to an "act of concealment," and that would have been "catastrophic," although he knew that going public would be "disastrous for me personally." His remarks came shortly after Clinton told CNN that Comey's move cost her the election.


House approves deal to avert government shutdown

The House voted 309-118 to approve a $1.1 trillion spending deal that would keep federal agencies funded beyond Friday, averting a government shutdown. The bill includes some Republican priorities, including an extra $15 billion in defense spending and $1.5 billion for tighter border security. To satisfy Democrats, the legislation includes a prohibition against using the border security money for President Trump's promised wall on the Mexican border. The measure also includes nearly $5 billion in domestic spending increases, including $295 million Democrats wanted to help Puerto Rico make Medicaid payments. The deal came after weeks of high-stakes negotiations that became easier after Trump withdrew his insistence on including money for his wall. The Senate will vote on the deal later in the week.


Puerto Rico files in court to restructure debt

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced Wednesday that the U.S. territory is filing paperwork to move its debt crisis to a federal bankruptcy court, making it the largest government entity in U.S. history to seek relief from its creditors. "We're going to protect our people," Rossello said. Negotiations with bondholders have failed to move forward, and creditors hit the territory with lawsuits looking to recuperate millions, including by claiming revenues generated by the island's Treasury Department. While Puerto Rico cannot seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy, it will utilize a similar debt restructuring process called PROMESA. The island has about $73 billion of bond debt.


Texas campus locked down as 2 die in apparent murder-suicide

Two people were found dead at North Lake College in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday. The campus, near Dallas, was locked down around midday, and an hour later Irving police spokesman James McLellan said officers had found the bodies of a woman and a man in what appeared to be a murder-suicide. Investigators said they believed the man fatally shot the woman in one building, then went somewhere else and killed himself. Police did not immediately identify the man or the woman, or say whether they knew each other. "We're just so devastated that something would happen on our campus," Christa Slejko, North Lake's president, said at a news conference.


Trump to ease restrictions on religious groups' political activity

President Trump on Thursday will take executive action to ease restrictions on tax-exempt churches and nonprofits endorsing political candidates, and exempt some religious organizations from a requirement to provide contraception coverage in employee insurance plans, the White House said Wednesday. Trump reportedly will stop short of letting faith-based organizations and companies refuse to serve or hire gay people, as outlined in an early draft of an executive order leaked in February, but he will mark the National Day of Prayer at the White House with a promise to "protect and vigorously promote religious liberty." Conservative religious leaders had pushed for more sweeping exemptions from Obama-era policies protecting LGBT people from discrimination.


Macron deemed winner of debate ahead of French runoff

France's two remaining presidential candidates, centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, clashed over globalization, unemployment, and national security in a Wednesday night debate viewed by millions of people. The forum was their last high-profile opportunity to stand out and win over voters before Sunday's runoff. Macron, a 39-year-old political newcomer and former investment banker, accused Le Pen of failing to offer a remedy for France's chronic unemployment. Le Pen, until recently the leader of the anti-immigration National Front, said Macron had no plan to fight terrorism, and tried to portray him as a continuation of the unpopular outgoing Socialist government. Macron holds a 20 percent lead over Le Pen in polls, and 63 percent of viewers found him more convincing than Le Pen in the debate.


Obama unveils drawings of planned presidential library

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama unveiled plans for the Obama presidential library in South Side Chicago. Barack Obama, speaking in an auditorium in Chicago, said he hoped the Obama Presidential Center, a stone and glass complex on Lake Michigan, would be a center of activity, not just a big building with kids "getting dragged to it for a field trip." "What we wanted was something that was alive," Obama said, "and that was a hub for the community and for the city and for the country." Obama said he wanted the library to have a children's play area to encourage local families to come, and a community garden for school kids. The $500 million project is expected to be completed in 2021.


Alabama governor signs bill letting adoption agencies turn away gay couples

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed a new law letting faith-based adoption agencies refuse to place children with gay couples. Eva Kendrick, state director of the Human Rights Campaign Alabama, said she was "deeply disappointed" that lawmakers and the governor approved what she called an "unnecessary, discriminatory bill." Ivey said the measure, which allows agencies to follow faith-based policies, was "not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home." South Dakota, Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia have approved similar laws. The Alabama law applies to private agencies that don't take state or federal funds.


Prince Philip, 95, to retire from royal duties

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's 95-year-old husband, will stop performing royal duties later this year, Buckingham Palace said in a statement Thursday. "Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen," the statement said. "Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time." Queen Elizabeth, 91, is the world's longest-serving monarch, and Prince Philip has been at her side throughout her 65 years on the throne.


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