<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usThu, 23 Mar 2017 18:21:41 -0400Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:21:41 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Congressman Mourning Wife Cancels DC Trip After Health Vote Postponed]]> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:41:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bobby+rush+2014.jpg

Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, who is mourning the loss of his wife after she passed away last week, was going to fly to Washington, D.C. for the vote on the new GOP health care plan, but has changed his travel plans amid news the vote has been postponed. 

The visitation and funeral services for Rush's late wife Carolyn are scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday. 

At noon Thursday, Rush told NBC 5 he was on his way to Washington, saying he felt his vote was needed.

“If [Carolyn] were here today, in this time, she would tell me to go to Washington," Rush said in the exclusive interview.

The congressman was booked on a 3 p.m. flight to D.C. but he later canceled those plans. 

Rush said he spoke to Democratic leadership who could not guarantee the health care vote would take place before 6 a.m. Friday. Soon after, sources told NBC News the House of Representatives postponed the vote after more conservative members of the party refused to pledge for the measure. 

Rush had planned to return to Chicago early Friday morning because “we’ve got family who are arriving [Thursday] to mourn her passing. Tomorrow the official services start.” 

He noted his wife, who had been critically ill for six months, “had good health care."

"Every American deserves the health care that my wife had,” Rush said.

Rush said the reason he was willing to leave his family to go to Washington was “I have to do my part to resist the evil, wicked president.”

The bill could still come to a vote in coming days. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[‘Bizarre’ Behavior by House Intel Committee Leaders: McCain]]> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:06:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/MCCAIN_AP_16285088898654.jpg

After a high-stakes back and forth between the top Democrat and Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Sen. John McCain said partisan bickering has cost Congress its credibility to investigate alleged Russian interference in last year's election, NBC News reported.

"I have not seen anything like it," McCain said Thursday on NBC's "Today" show about the infighting. "It is very disturbing."

McCain, R-Ariz., said it's up to House leadership to decide whether to change how the investigation is being conducted, and on Wednesday called for a congressional select committee or independent commission to take charge. Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have so far resisted such a move.

Photo Credit: AP, FIle]]>
<![CDATA[Schiff Responds to Nunes' Discussions With White House]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:59:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Schiff-thumb.jpg

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) expressed his concerns Wednesday after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) shared intelligence with the White House before sharing it with the committee. Schiff said President Donald Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped by former President Obama remain baseless.

<![CDATA[Seniors Worry About Loss of Meals Under Trump Budget Plan]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:27:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/IMG_82502.jpg

Dale Lamphier, 97, never married and her closest living relatives―three nephews―live across the country. About two years ago, she moved to a senior housing complex in Westwood, New Jersey, a town she has lived in her whole life. She has been using the meal delivery service Meals on Wheels since her brother died about three years ago.

"Meals on Wheels is important because I can't do much shopping―very little," she said. "And I can't carry things. There are a lot of people here that can't."

There is a Trader Joe's about a block from her complex, which she walks to, but not often. She relies on her daily meal delivery.

North Jersey is just one of the thousands of Meals on Wheels branches that could see cuts to its funding under President Donald Trump's proposed budget plan. Jeanne Martin, the executive director of Meals on Wheels North Jersey, said her program reaches about 220 senior citizens across 30 towns in northern Bergen County. If Trump's budget plan passes, her branch will lose about $32,000―10 percent of her annual budget―and potentially more money from other Department of Health and Human Services grants.

As a whole, the national Meals on Wheels organization receives about 35 percent of its funding from the federal government. Trump is proposing to end the Community Development Block Grants, one of many federal grants that fund the program. Other cuts to Health and Human Services, the parent agency for Meals on Wheels, also could affect the program negatively, but the magnitude of those cuts is unknown. 

Martin has been the executive director of Meals on Wheels in North Jersey for 12 years. She said she has never seen a federal cut this large.

"I don't see any room for us in that budget," she said. "I haven't seen any positive things coming from [the Trump administration] in the social services or the senior service so far."

"It is going to impact our program," she said. "We're not going to be able to offer the subsidies to our clients that they really need."

Andre Sitbon, a Holocaust survivor in his early 90s, has been using Meals on Wheels for more than five years out of the Westwood seniors complex. Around three years ago Sitbon's wife died and he started having severe eye problems, which interfered with his love of cooking. He said the program "receives you with arms open," with extremely friendly staff and good food. On Monday he received meatloaf, mashed potatoes and mixed greens.

Another senior, a 65-year old mentally disabled man, had virtually nothing in his fridge except the two meals―one hot, one cold―that Martin delivered to him Monday morning. The only other parcels were an apple and a small carton of milk, which were given to him by Meals on Wheels the day before.

Martin estimated that about 30 percent of the seniors in her program are no longer visited by family and, like Lamphier, are isolated. Martin said the 550 local volunteer drivers who deliver the meals are often the ones who report health problems and find fallen or sick seniors. Meals on Wheels, she said, is "more than just a meal."

"We're helping people stay in their homes, which is where they want to stay," she said. "It's keeping people out of nursing homes. And they want to spend the rest of the time they have on this world in their homes and we're doing the best we can to give them that."

When Martin became director there were about 100 seniors in the program. The number has more than doubled during her tenure, though she thinks that there are hundreds more seniors who need assistance but are too isolated or too worried about appearing needy to receive help.

If Martin loses funding she would have to make changes to the program's model. The food is now prepared by four local nursing homes to meet federal guidelines. But if the program no longer receives federal funds, it would be free to receive donated meals from volunteers.

"It seems to me that all of the programs that support our most needy, vulnerable populations are the ones that are being jeopardized," said John Birkner Jr., the mayor of Westwood. He also said that recent comments made by Trump administration officials "trivialize" the importance of programs like Meals on Wheels.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, called Meals on Wheels a program that is "just not showing any results." 

"We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good," he said at a news conference last Thursday. "Meals on Wheels sounds great. Again, that's a state decision to fund that particular portion, to take the federal money and give it to the states, and say look, we want to give you money for programs that don't work."

Martin called Mulvaney’s comments "insulting" and said he "couldn’t be more wrong."

Supporters have cited studies to back their case. A University of Illinois review in 2013 of home-delivery programs for seniors found that they "significantly improve" the nutritional quality of diets, as well as increased chances for socialization and an overall "higher quality of life."

Another study in 2015 by Brown University researchers found multiple benefits of Meals on Wheels for senior citizens, including reduced feelings of isolation and loneliness, an increased feeling of security and fewer falls and hospitalizations.

Martin said the cost of a year's worth of meals from her program was $1,500. She compared that to the cost of a one-day hospitalization. 

"So, if we're keeping someone well-nourished and doing a well-check on them, we're saving the government money by keeping them out of the hospital," Martin said. 

Meals on Wheels has about 5,000 local and state delivery programs that supply food to isolated, disabled or poor seniors. In 2016, they served about 2.4 million people, including more than 500,000 veterans.

National Meals on Wheels spokeswoman Jenny Bertolette confirmed to NBC that the program has seen a significant spike in donations since Mulvaney’s comments last Thursday. On a typical day, the nonprofit receives about $1,000 in individual online donations.

Three days after the preliminary budget was released, Meals on Wheels had received about $140,000 in donations. On Tuesday, the nonprofit told The Associated Press that it had received an additional $50,000 donation from NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Bertolette said the organization was "thrilled about the public’s passionate support" but also said the additional donations could not replace what it gets from the federal government.

The portion of Meals on Wheels' budget that comes from the federal government is part of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program, which falls under Health and Human Services. Trump is calling for an 18 percent cut to the department.

Each state uses Community Block Development Grants differently, so the amount that funds Meals on Wheels per branch varies widely. For example, one program in the suburbs of Detroit could lose 30 percent of its budget; on the other end, New York City's Meals on Wheels is funded through other grants, so it is not affected by the potential loss of Community Block Development Grants.

The program is also funded by private money.

"Cuts of any kind to these highly successful and leveraged programs would be a devastating blow to our ability to provide much-needed care for millions of vulnerable seniors in America," Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America, said in a statement.

The cuts are no sure thing. Congress must pass the budget that Trump has outlined and there has already been support from both sides of the aisle for Meals on Wheels.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted that cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels "jeopardizes the health and safety of the poor."

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told CNN he would "never vote to cut even one dollar" of Meals on Wheels.

Since Mulvaney's comments last week, Martin has gained three more volunteers and an additional donor. 

Even if the budget doesn't cut as much as the 10 percent that is currently threatened, to Martin "a cut is a cut." 

Photo Credit: Shannon Ho
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<![CDATA[Nunes: Trump Communications May Have Been ‘Monitored’]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:46:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/nunes+copy.jpg

Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of House Intelligence Committee, says President Donald Trump’s communications may have been “monitored” by the U.S. government during the transition period. He noted all monitoring was believed to be done legally. Trump responded that he feels "somewhat" vindicated by what Nunes says he found.

<![CDATA[Anti-Trump Bump Leads to Wave of Dem Candidates in States]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:18:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/trumpheadshotfeuerherd.jpg

Democrats typically have trouble recruiting candidates for Statehouse races, but now they're having trouble keeping up with all the people who want to run, NBC News reported.

Candidates are already coming out of the woodwork across the country, thanks to a backlash against President Donald Trump and a newfound recognition on the left of the importance of state legislatures to counter GOP control in Washington, D.C.

The surge of potential candidates has been so unusual that, for the first time, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee felt the need to coordinate its recruiting efforts with all the groups that work to find candidates.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Montgomery County Rejects Trump's 'Devastating' Budget Plan]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 18:35:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/032117+montgomery+county+council.jpg

The government of Montgomery County, Maryland, is rejecting President Donald Trump's proposed budget, which would have a major impact on the county's many federal workers.

All nine members of the Montgomery County Council, who all are Democrats, voted Tuesday to pass a resolution "to condemn President Trump's federal budget proposal and to urge the United States Congress to reject it on behalf of Montgomery County residents."

Councilmembers say they are fighting to save jobs. The federal government employs 48,000 county residents.

Trump's budget blueprint, released Thursday, would cut funding to many domestic programs and boost the Pentagon's budget. Located in the county, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone faces a 20 percent budget cut.

Councilwoman Nancy Floreen said she was baffled by Trump's priorities.

"It is so off the wall. It is so devastating to everything that we stand for as a nation," she said.

Council President Roger Berliner called on Maryland's Republican governor, Larry Hogan, to stand up to the proposed cuts to the NIH budget, like the Republican governor of Massachusetts did.

"Montgomery County is the economic engine of the State of Maryland, so our Maryland governor has a direct stake in the outcome of this debate, and he's been silent," Berliner said.

Councilman Craig Rice said he opposed Trump's proposal to eliminate federal funds for Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.

"We're seeing the crab population and the oyster population come back. We're seeing the healthiness of the bay, and that ends up being an effort that's bipartisan. To jeopardize that with decreased funding is a huge mistake," he said. 

Members of the Council said they were not aware of any other local governments that had formally opposed a president's budget proposal. They said they hope local governments across the country follow their lead.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Five Facts to Know About FBI Director James Comey]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:51:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP871330706209.jpg

In two successive revelations delivered on Monday, FBI director James Comey confirmed in a testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that his federal agency is investigating the 2016 Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia and that there is no evidence of Obama wiretapping Trump Tower before or after the election.

As NBC News reported, Comey, who 11 days before the November election called for a re-examination of Hillary Clinton's email server, was blamed by some Democrats for their nominee's loss to President Donald Trump. 

But before being thrust into the spotlight, the 56-year-old and father of five had a long career as a federal prosecutor. Read on for five facts to know about director Comey.

Photo Credit: Mike Groll, AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Here Are the Republicans Who May Reject Health Care Bill]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:25:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/649341198-GOP-Health-Care-Bill.jpg

President Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and replace it with "something terrific." Now, House Republicans are in danger of losing a vote on their health care bill, the American Health Care Act — a defeat that would cause setbacks for the party and for the president.

According to a tally by NBC News, as of Tuesday afternoon at least 25 Republicans have said they will vote against or are leaning toward voting against the bill. Voting is expected to occur Thursday.

Republican leadership has been busy trying to secure the 216 votes needed to pass the bill, which means they can lose the support of only 21 Republicans. After traveling to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning in an attempt to close the deal, Trump has invited about nine moderate, undecided Republicans to the White House Tuesday afternoon in another attempt at persuasion.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Business Is In Violation of NYC Law]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:20:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/file-photo-trump-tower.jpg

Donald Trump's business, The Trump Organization, is in violation of New York City law, NBC News reported.

Trump Tower at 725 Fifth Avenue, where President Trump and first lady Melania live and where his two eldest sons work in offices, is not registered this year with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed on Tuesday.

Property owners of certain residential buildings are required by law to register annually by Sept. 1, but Trump Tower’s registration expired in 2016 and The Trump Organization never renewed it.

Failing to register can result in a fine of up to $500, and the property owner could lose some rights. Calls and messages to a spokeswoman for The Trump Organization were not immediately returned to NBC News.

Photo Credit: FILE-Getty Images]]>