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10 things you need to know today: July 23, 2019

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Harold Maass
Boris Johnson leaves his headquarters
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1.

White House, lawmakers strike 2-year budget deal

White House and congressional negotiators on Monday reached a budget deal that would raise spending by $320 billion over current caps and raise the debt ceiling for two years. If approved, the agreement will keep the government funded beyond a looming September deadline and avert a potentially devastating partial government shutdown. The spending in the plan will increase already surging federal deficits, but President Trump hailed it as a victory. "I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck ... on a two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling, with no poison pills," Trump tweeted. "This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!" [The New York Times]

2.

Boris Johnson selected to be Britain's new prime minister

Britain's governing Conservative Party announced Tuesday that Boris Johnson, a former London mayor and foreign secretary, has been selected to serve as the country's new prime minister, replacing Theresa May after her failure to win approval from lawmakers for her deal on Britain's exit from the European Union. Johnson beat out Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Johnson has promised to renegotiate the Brexit deal, although the EU has said that won't happen. Johnson has vowed to lead the U.K. out of the trading bloc by the end of October, "come what may." Hunt also promised to leave the EU with or without a deal. Several Conservative ministers already have said they will resign to fight a "no-deal" Brexit, which economists warn could tip the country into recession. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]

3.

Puerto Ricans hold massive strike demanding governor's resignation

Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans started a strike across the U.S. Caribbean territory on Monday, calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Rosselló a day earlier announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020 but insisted he would finish his current term, despite a series of protests demanding that he quit over government corruption and the release of leaked misogynistic and homophobic chat messages between Rosselló and some of his top aides. Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin, who was among the people targeted in the chat messages, participated in the protests and joined calls for Rosselló's impeachment. President Trump said Rosselló was "a terrible governor," although he stopped short of calling for him to step down. [CNN]

4.

DOJ tells Mueller to limit congressional testimony

Justice Department officials have told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller to limit his Wednesday congressional testimony to the findings in his report on Russian election meddling and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, Politico reported Monday, citing current and former U.S. officials. The Justice Department believes "anything outside the written pages of the report are things about which presidential privilege hasn't been waived," a former U.S. official said. Neither the White House nor the Justice Department reportedly plans to have lawyers present for Mueller's testimony to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, instead relying on him to police his own comments. Trump on Monday reiterated his position that Mueller is "highly conflicted" and shouldn't be allowed to testify. [Politico]

5.

Trump calls Iran's spying claim 'totally false'

President Trump on Monday called Iran's claim that it had arrested 17 Iranian citizens for spying on behalf of the U.S. "totally false." An Iranian intelligence official said at a news conference earlier in the day that the suspects had been trained by the CIA. "Zero truth," Trump tweeted. "Just more lies and propaganda" from "a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also dismissed Iran's claim, telling Fox News that "the Iranian regime has a long history of lying." The assertion by Tehran marked the latest escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which has started exceeding uranium enrichment levels permitted in its nuclear deal with global powers because European nations have not done enough to restore sanctions relief following the Trump administration's imposition of new sanctions. [The New York Times]

6.

Trump administration expands 'expedited removal' of undocumented immigrants

The Trump administration plans Tuesday to significantly expand its power to promptly deport undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. over the last two years. The Department of Homeland Security said in its notice of the move that it was a "necessary response to the ongoing immigration crisis." The department's "expedited removal," which bypasses immigration judges, previously only applied to migrants caught within 100 miles of the border and who had been in the country less than two weeks. Now, the strategy is being applied to all undocumented migrants who do not have an asylum application pending or an immigration court date. The change comes after President Trump's promise to deport millions of immigrants and launch enforcement raids in major cities. [The Washington Post]

7.

Venezuela hit by another massive power outage

Much of Venezuela was hit with a power blackout on Monday similar to the ones that stoked chaos in the troubled South American nation in March. Power went out in the capital, Caracas, at around 4 p.m., snarling traffic as stop lights went out and halting the subway at the start of rush hour. Social media reports indicated that 19 of the country's 24 states were affected, and most of Venezuela lost internet connections. The country's embattled socialist president, Nicolás Maduro, blamed the earlier blackouts on an "electromagnetic attack" he said was sponsored by the U.S. The government did not immediately offer an explanation for the latest outage. [The Associated Press]

8.

2 Louisiana police officers fired over post suggesting Ocasio-Cortez be shot

The police chief of Grenta, Louisiana, announced Monday that he had fired two police officers for violating the department's social media policy. One of the officers, Charlie Rispoli, posted on Facebook a parody news story about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) with the comment: "This vile idiot needs a round ... and I don't mean the kind she used to serve." The second officer, Angelo Varisco, "liked" Rispoli's post. The incident followed President Trump's repeated attacks on Ocasio-Cortez and three fellow first-term Democratic congresswomen. On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the Grenta incident "is Trump's goal when he uses targeted language & threatens elected officials who don't agree w/ his political agenda. It's authoritarian behavior." [The New Orleans Advocate, The Washington Post]

9.

Trump administration rule change would knock 3.1 million off food stamps

The Trump administration on Tuesday will propose a rule change that could cut about 3.1 million people from the food-stamp program. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said the proposal seeks to require people who receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to pass an income and asset review to determine whether they also qualify for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Currently, 43 states automatically consider TANF beneficiaries eligible for food stamps. The change would save the government about $2.5 billion a year. "Some states are taking advantage of loopholes that allow people to receive the SNAP benefits who would otherwise not qualify and for which they are not entitled," USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said Monday. [CNBC]

10.

India launches lunar mission on second try

India successfully launched its Chandrayaan-2 rocket on an unmanned mission to the far side of the moon. The spacecraft took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India's southeastern coast after its first launch attempt was scrapped less than an hour before liftoff last week due to what India's space agency described as a "technical snag." India is aiming to become the first country to achieve a soft, controlled landing near the moon's south pole. It will also be just the fourth country to land softly on the moon, after Russia, the U.S., and China. India hopes to deploy a lunar rover to explore water deposits discovered 11 years ago on the Chandrayaan-1 mission, which mapped the moon's surface with radar but didn't touch down. [NPR]