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At a Glance - Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, February 2019 - 15-02-2019

The February plenary session highlights included a further debate on the Future of Europe, with Giuseppe Conte, Italy's Prime Minister; debates on Syria, and the future of the INF Treaty and its impact on the EU; and discussions on Roma integration strategies
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

At a Glance - Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, February 2019 - 15-02-2019

The February plenary session highlights included a further debate on the Future of Europe, with Giuseppe Conte, Italy's Prime Minister; debates on Syria, and the future of the INF Treaty and its impact on the EU; and discussions on Roma integration strategies, and on a reflection paper on a sustainable Europe by 2030. Parliament also held debates on the conclusion of three EU-Singapore agreements; the implementation of Treaty provisions; and the rights of LGBTI people. Members adopted legislative texts, inter alia, on a multiannual plan for stocks fished in the Western Waters; a Union civil protection mechanism; minimum requirements for water reuse; screening of FDI; electronic road toll systems; mutual recognition of goods; cross-border payments and currency conversion charges; and common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services. Finally, Parliament adopted positions on six further proposed funding programmes for the 2021-2027 period, clearing the way to the launch of negotiations with the Council. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

At a Glance - The euro at 20 [What Think Tanks are thinking] - 15-02-2019

The euro marked its 20th anniversary in January 2019, as debates continued about the single currency's track-record and the shape of future reform. When the 11 original members of the euro area irrevocably fixed their exchange rates in 1999, and transferred a
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

At a Glance - The euro at 20 [What Think Tanks are thinking] - 15-02-2019

The euro marked its 20th anniversary in January 2019, as debates continued about the single currency's track-record and the shape of future reform. When the 11 original members of the euro area irrevocably fixed their exchange rates in 1999, and transferred authority over their monetary policies to the European Central Bank, the currency's advocates hailed the move as the crowning achievement of European integration. Whilist some economists have blamed the euro area's one-size-fits-all approach to interest rates for weakening growth and increasing economic divergences between certain countries, others have pointed to the euro's role in underpinning the single market as well as offering resilience to Europe in withstanding the 2008-2009 financial crisis and its aftermath. Opinion polls shows the euro continues to be popular among citizens. This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on the euro's merits, its future and related issues. Earlier publications on the topics can be found in a previous edition of the series published in November 2018, PE 630.268. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat

The president nearly blew up negotiations again on Thursday, frustrated by a bipartisan agreement that again failed to provide funding for his signature campaign promise.
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‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat

The president nearly blew up negotiations again on Thursday, frustrated by a bipartisan agreement that again failed to provide funding for his signature campaign promise.

Congress approves border deal to avert shutdown; Trump to sign it and seek wall money elsewhere

Congress is voting on sweeping legislation to avert a government shutdown set to start at the end of Friday.
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Congress approves border deal to avert shutdown; Trump to sign it and seek wall money elsewhere

Congress is voting on sweeping legislation to avert a government shutdown set to start at the end of Friday.

Trump’s doctor says he is in good health, despite gaining weight

The president has not had any major changes to his health status in the past year, according to a memorandum signed by his doctor and released by the White House.
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Trump’s doctor says he is in good health, despite gaining weight

The president has not had any major changes to his health status in the past year, according to a memorandum signed by his doctor and released by the White House.

McCabe describes more Russia-related intimidation by Trump

In an excerpt published in the Atlantic, Andrew McCabe says President Trump brought up his wife's failed state Senate campaign in their first conversation after he became acting FBI director. It's difficult not to read that as Trump trying to lean on him.
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McCabe describes more Russia-related intimidation by Trump

In an excerpt published in the Atlantic, Andrew McCabe says President Trump brought up his wife's failed state Senate campaign in their first conversation after he became acting FBI director. It's difficult not to read that as Trump trying to lean on him.

Briefing - The InvestEU programme: Continuing EFSI in the next MFF - 14-02-2019

Since its launch in November 2014, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) has had considerable success in mobilising private investment across Europe. Despite its success, investment levels in Europe remain below pre-crisis levels. There is therefore a need to
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - The InvestEU programme: Continuing EFSI in the next MFF - 14-02-2019

Since its launch in November 2014, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) has had considerable success in mobilising private investment across Europe. Despite its success, investment levels in Europe remain below pre-crisis levels. There is therefore a need to provide for an extended EU investment programme under the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), which caters for multiple objectives in terms of simplification, flexibility, synergies and coherence across relevant EU policies. The InvestEU programme, expected to run from 2021 onwards, has been designed to address this challenge. It will bring diverse EU financial instruments within a single structure, making EU funding for investment projects in Europe simpler and more efficient and flexible. It will build on the success achieved by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and consist of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Briefing - The new European cybersecurity competence centre and network - 14-02-2019

On 13 September 2017, the Commission adopted a cybersecurity package containing a series of initiatives to further improve EU cyber-resilience, deterrence and defence. A year later, the Commission presented a proposal for the creation of a European cybersecur
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - The new European cybersecurity competence centre and network - 14-02-2019

On 13 September 2017, the Commission adopted a cybersecurity package containing a series of initiatives to further improve EU cyber-resilience, deterrence and defence. A year later, the Commission presented a proposal for the creation of a European cybersecurity competence centre with a related network of national coordination centres. The initiative aims to improve and strengthen the EU's cybersecurity capacity, by stimulating the European technological and industrial cybersecurity ecosystem as well as coordinating and pooling necessary resources in Europe. The competence centre is supposed to become the main body that would manage EU financial resources dedicated to cybersecurity research under the two proposed programmes – Digital Europe and Horizon Europe – within the next multiannual financial framework, for 2021-2027. Within the European Parliament, the file has been assigned to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The draft report was published on 7 December 2018. The vote in ITRE is expected to take place in February 2019. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Briefing - Revision of the Drinking Water Directive - 14-02-2019

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast of the Directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking Water Directive). The proposal responds to the European Citizens' Initiative, Right2Water, and
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - Revision of the Drinking Water Directive - 14-02-2019

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast of the Directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking Water Directive). The proposal responds to the European Citizens' Initiative, Right2Water, and builds on a fitness check which concluded that the 20-year old directive is fit for purpose, but needs updating. The main elements of the proposal consist of updating the water quality standards, introducing a risk-based approach to the monitoring of water, improving and streamlining the information provided to consumers, harmonising the standards for products in contact with drinking water, and imposing obligations to improve access to water. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its report on 10 September 2018. A plenary vote on the committee’s report, and on opening interinstitutional negotiations, took place on 23 October 2018. The Council has yet to define its position. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

At a Glance - The euro at 20: Benefits of the Single Currency for Citizens - 14-02-2019

On 1 January 2019, the euro turned 20. The launch by 11 EU Member States (MS) of the single currency and of the single monetary policy under the responsibility of the European Central Bank (ECB) was a historic milestone on a journey driven by the ambition to
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

At a Glance - The euro at 20: Benefits of the Single Currency for Citizens - 14-02-2019

On 1 January 2019, the euro turned 20. The launch by 11 EU Member States (MS) of the single currency and of the single monetary policy under the responsibility of the European Central Bank (ECB) was a historic milestone on a journey driven by the ambition to ensure stability and prosperity in Europe. Today, still young, the euro is already the currency of 340 million Europeans in 19 MS. This note, prepared by Policy department A, summarises benefits of the single currency for European citizens. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

At a Glance - Online disinformation and the EU's response - 14-02-2019

The visibility of disinformation as a tool to undermine democracies increased in the context of Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine. It gained notoriety as a global challenge during the UK referendum on EU membership as well as the United States presidential
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

At a Glance - Online disinformation and the EU's response - 14-02-2019

The visibility of disinformation as a tool to undermine democracies increased in the context of Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine. It gained notoriety as a global challenge during the UK referendum on EU membership as well as the United States presidential election campaign in 2016. The European Union and the European Parliament are stepping up efforts to tackle online disinformation ahead of the May 2019 European elections. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

The Cybersecurity 202: Iran indictments show even U.S. intelligence officials are vulnerable to basic hacking schemes

An Iranian operation targeted several officials.

One year after the Parkland shooting, is the #NeverAgain movement on track to succeed?

So far, they're doing a good job tackling the three main challenges that face social movements.
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One year after the Parkland shooting, is the #NeverAgain movement on track to succeed?

So far, they're doing a good job tackling the three main challenges that face social movements.

Mueller just caught a fourth Trump aide lying about contact with the Russians

A judge voided Manafort's cooperation agreement with prosecutors on Wednesday, finding he lied about contacts with an associate with alleged ties to Russian intelligence.
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Mueller just caught a fourth Trump aide lying about contact with the Russians

A judge voided Manafort's cooperation agreement with prosecutors on Wednesday, finding he lied about contacts with an associate with alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

Border deal nears passage as lawmakers prepare for votes, with Trump expected to sign

President Trump said that he has to see the final deal before deciding whether he can support it, but he reiterated his insistence that the border wall will get built regardless of Congress’s actions.
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Border deal nears passage as lawmakers prepare for votes, with Trump expected to sign

President Trump said that he has to see the final deal before deciding whether he can support it, but he reiterated his insistence that the border wall will get built regardless of Congress’s actions.

Congress moves to act on gun control amid partisan debate about background checks

The House Judiciary Committee debated a measure Wednesday that would require background checks for all gun sales nationwide.
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Congress moves to act on gun control amid partisan debate about background checks

The House Judiciary Committee debated a measure Wednesday that would require background checks for all gun sales nationwide.

Briefing - Election of the President of the European Commission: Understanding the Spitzenkandidaten process - 13-02-2019

Originally, the nomination of the President of the European Commission was firmly in the hands of national governments, with the influence of the European Parliament (EP) initially non-existent and later only limited. However, inspired by the changes introduc
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - Election of the President of the European Commission: Understanding the Spitzenkandidaten process - 13-02-2019

Originally, the nomination of the President of the European Commission was firmly in the hands of national governments, with the influence of the European Parliament (EP) initially non-existent and later only limited. However, inspired by the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, in the run-up to the 2014 European elections, the Parliament announced that 'this time, it's different': by voting in European elections, European citizens would not only elect the Parliament itself, but also have a say over who would head the EU executive – the European Commission. What became known as the 'Spitzenkandidaten process' is a procedure whereby European political parties, ahead of European elections, appoint lead candidates for the role of Commission President, with the presidency of the Commission then going to the candidate of the political party capable of marshalling sufficient parliamentary support. Establishing a direct link between EP elections and the Commission President is intended to increase the legitimacy of the Commission and the EU as a whole, foster transparency in the nomination process and encourage increased turnout in EP elections. However, the procedure has not been without its critics, who have raised concerns about both its legal and political implications. The Parliament remains firmly committed to repeating the process in 2019 and, with EP elections now only weeks away, attention has shifted to the European political parties. A number of parties have nominated lead candidates, and this briefing gives an overview of their nominees. This is an update of an earlier briefing on the topic, published in November 2018. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Briefing - United Nations reform - 13-02-2019

At the 72nd United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 18 September 2017, 120 countries expressed their commitment to the reforms proposed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Since 1946, the UN has undergone a number of reforms either in whole or in part
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - United Nations reform - 13-02-2019

At the 72nd United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 18 September 2017, 120 countries expressed their commitment to the reforms proposed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Since 1946, the UN has undergone a number of reforms either in whole or in part. The term 'reform' has proved troublesome for UN member states on account of its lack of clarity and the lack of consensus as to execution. This is particularly apparent in the scepticism expressed by the United States (US) in 2018 regarding the need for global governance, the importance of UN Security Council decisions such as the Iran nuclear deal, and the efficiency of the United Nations. This briefing explains how the current reform differs from previous ones, in as much as it focuses on management and addresses the criticisms of a lack of accountability and transparency, ineffectiveness, and the deficit in trust between the organisation and its member states in the current system. The United Nations reform agenda centres on three key areas: development, management, and peace and security. First, development reform will bring a bold change to the UN development system in order to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This will be centred on the creation of a new generation of country teams led by an independent team of UN country experts ('resident coordinators'). Second, the simplification of processes, increased transparency and improved delivery of mandates will form the basis of a new management paradigm for the secretariat. Third, peace and security reform will be underpinned by placing priority on conflict prevention and peacekeeping, increasing the effectiveness and coherence of peacekeeping operations and political missions. Two years after its launch, the reform process is starting to bear fruit, with implementation set to begin in 2019 and a focus on streamlining, accountability, transparency and efficiency. However, the reform process does not make explicit mention of bolstering human rights. This briefing also explores the possibility of capitalising on the current reforms so as to boost the indivisibility of human rights, while taking stock of stakeholders' reactions to the UN reforms under way. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

‘You can feel it now’: New Democrats push party, and 2020 candidates, to the left on divisive issues

The liberal shift has created challenges for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in more-conservative areas as the party charts a path aimed at taking the White House in two years.
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‘You can feel it now’: New Democrats push party, and 2020 candidates, to the left on divisive issues

The liberal shift has created challenges for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in more-conservative areas as the party charts a path aimed at taking the White House in two years.

Lawmakers line up behind bipartisan border deal to avert shutdown, as Trump signals he may sign it

The president predicts there will not be another government shutdown, as a Friday deadline approaches.
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Lawmakers line up behind bipartisan border deal to avert shutdown, as Trump signals he may sign it

The president predicts there will not be another government shutdown, as a Friday deadline approaches.

Lawmakers pay tribute to John Dingell at 30,000 feet as funeral-bound flight is turned back because of bad weather

Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led an “impromptu service” for Dingell aboard a military plane Tuesday.
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Lawmakers pay tribute to John Dingell at 30,000 feet as funeral-bound flight is turned back because of bad weather

Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led an “impromptu service” for Dingell aboard a military plane Tuesday.

How Manafort’s 2016 meeting with a Russian employee at New York cigar club goes to ‘the heart’ of Mueller’s probe

In a sealed court hearing last week, prosecutors revealed they are deeply focused on a dinner Paul Manafort had at the Grand Havana Club with a Russian political operative named Konstantin Kilimnik.
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How Manafort’s 2016 meeting with a Russian employee at New York cigar club goes to ‘the heart’ of Mueller’s probe

In a sealed court hearing last week, prosecutors revealed they are deeply focused on a dinner Paul Manafort had at the Grand Havana Club with a Russian political operative named Konstantin Kilimnik.

At a Glance - The death penalty and the EU's fight against it - 12-02-2019

The European Union is strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, and fighting it is a foremost priority of its external human rights policy. While most countries in the world have abolished capital punishment, death sentences continue to be h
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

At a Glance - The death penalty and the EU's fight against it - 12-02-2019

The European Union is strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, and fighting it is a foremost priority of its external human rights policy. While most countries in the world have abolished capital punishment, death sentences continue to be handed down and carried out in a number of countries. The Union uses its diplomatic and political weight to encourage these countries to join the abolitionist ranks, or at the very least to respect international minimum standards. It funds campaigns to increase awareness of the need to end capital punishment, and restricts trade in substances that could be used for executions. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Study - The proposed Return Directive (recast) - 12-02-2019

On 12 September 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recasting of the 2008 Return Directive, which stipulates common standards and procedures in Member States for returning irregular migrants who are non-EU nationals. Effectively returnin
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Study - The proposed Return Directive (recast) - 12-02-2019

On 12 September 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recasting of the 2008 Return Directive, which stipulates common standards and procedures in Member States for returning irregular migrants who are non-EU nationals. Effectively returning irregular migrants is one of the key objectives of the European Union’s migration policy. However, Member States currently face challenges: national practices implementing the EU rules vary and the overall return rates remain below expectations. The proposal was not accompanied by a Commission impact assessment. The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) therefore asked the European Parliamentary Research Service to provide a targeted substitute impact assessment of the proposed recast Return Directive. The assessment considers the main expected impacts of the key provisions of the Commission proposal, focusing on the social, human rights and financial impacts, as compared to the current situation (status quo). On the basis of the legal and economic studies carried out for this impact assessment, it appears that the Commission proposal for a recast Return Directive has significant legal, social, human rights and economic implications, which in principle would have deserved consideration in the context of a proper impact assessment process conducted ex-ante by the Commission. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Briefing - Credit servicers, credit purchasers and the recovery of collateral: Fostering secondary markets for non-performing loans (NPLs) and easing collateral recovery - 12-02-2019

Due to the recessions brought about by the financial crisis from the end of the past decade, more and more EU companies and citizens have faced economic difficulties in recent years and have been unable to repay their loans. As a consequence, many EU banks ha
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - Credit servicers, credit purchasers and the recovery of collateral: Fostering secondary markets for non-performing loans (NPLs) and easing collateral recovery - 12-02-2019

Due to the recessions brought about by the financial crisis from the end of the past decade, more and more EU companies and citizens have faced economic difficulties in recent years and have been unable to repay their loans. As a consequence, many EU banks have accumulated high volumes of non-performing loans (NPLs) in their balance-sheets. Although almost halved in comparison to December 2014, the ratio between NPLs and the total loans extended by EU banks (NPL ratio) remains historically high when measured against the ratios of other advanced economies. High levels of NPLs require banks to hold higher amounts of regulatory capital and pay a risk premium on liquidity markets, as a result of which their profitability and growth prospects diminish. To tackle this issue, a number of different initiatives have been adopted both at national and EU level. Within this context, in March 2018 the Commission adopted a comprehensive package of measures including a proposal for a directive aimed at fostering NPL secondary markets and easing collateral recovery from secured loans. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Briefing - Fintech (financial technology) and the European Union: State of play and outlook - 12-02-2019

The financial technology (fintech) sector encompasses firms that use technology-based systems either to provide financial services and products directly, or to make the financial system more efficient. Fintech is a rapidly growing sector: in the first half o
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - Fintech (financial technology) and the European Union: State of play and outlook - 12-02-2019

The financial technology (fintech) sector encompasses firms that use technology-based systems either to provide financial services and products directly, or to make the financial system more efficient. Fintech is a rapidly growing sector: in the first half of 2018, investment in fintech companies in Europe alone reached US$26 billion. The fintech sector brings rewards including innovation and job creation, but also challenges, such as data and consumer protection issues, and the risk of exacerbating financial volatility or cybercrime. To tackle these multi-disciplinary challenges, policy- and lawmakers in the European Union (EU) have adopted and announced several initiatives, for instance on intra-EU payment services, data protection, crowdfunding and regulatory sandboxes. This briefing outlines current and upcoming fintech-related laws at EU level. It follows on from a March 2017 EPRS briefing that focused, inter alia, on the evolution, scope and economic prospects of fintech. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Briefing - Serbia-Kosovo relations: Confrontation or normalisation? - 12-02-2019

After fighting broke out between government forces and separatists, the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo was transferred to United Nations administration in 1999. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence. However, Belgrade continues to view its former provinc
Documents - Think Tank - European Parliament

Briefing - Serbia-Kosovo relations: Confrontation or normalisation? - 12-02-2019

After fighting broke out between government forces and separatists, the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo was transferred to United Nations administration in 1999. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence. However, Belgrade continues to view its former province as Serbian territory. Over 100 countries, including 23 EU Member States, have recognised Kosovar independence, but full recognition and membership of most international organisations are still a long way off. Both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to EU membership – Serbia as a candidate country and Kosovo as a potential candidate. The EU insists that Serbia must normalise its relations with Kosovo before joining. Since 2011, with the help of EU mediation, the two neighbours have resolved some of the technical issues, but disagreements prevent normal day-to-day interaction between them in areas such as trade, energy supplies and cross-border travel. One of the main stumbling blocks is the situation of Kosovo's Serb minority. Around one in 12 Kosovars is an ethnic Serb, and nearly half of these are concentrated in the north. Despite efforts to integrate Serb-majority northern Kosovo into the rest of the country, Pristina still struggles to control the region. In 2013 and 2015, it agreed to grant autonomy to Serb-majority areas of Kosovo, but progress on this is now deadlocked. In 2018, the Kosovar and Serbian presidents floated the idea of a 'border correction', possibly involving the exchange of northern Kosovo for Albanian-majority Serbian districts. However, the proposal has been criticised by Germany, which fears that any territorial exchange risks sparking instability by calling into question other Western Balkan borders. There is also strong domestic opposition to the move in both Kosovo and Serbia. Despite growing pressure on both sides to finally reach a deal that could unlock the door to EU membership, relations remain tense and progress towards normalisation is currently at a standstill. Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

‘No crisis exists’: El Paso officials tell Trump to stop the falsehoods about their border city

"The County of El Paso is disillusioned by President Trump’s lies regarding the border and our community,” they said ahead of Trump's visit.
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‘No crisis exists’: El Paso officials tell Trump to stop the falsehoods about their border city

"The County of El Paso is disillusioned by President Trump’s lies regarding the border and our community,” they said ahead of Trump's visit.

A Trump nominee’s family company paid $290,000 fine for sexual harassment and discrimination

The company was also asked to hire a third-party to “receive and investigate complaints of harassment, intimidation, threats, retaliation and coercion against employees throughout 2018.”
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A Trump nominee’s family company paid $290,000 fine for sexual harassment and discrimination

The company was also asked to hire a third-party to “receive and investigate complaints of harassment, intimidation, threats, retaliation and coercion against employees throughout 2018.”

Lawmakers say they have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ to avoid government shutdown

Top lawmakers say they have reached a deal to fund the government through the fall, a deal that would resolve ongoing disputes over immigration and — if signed into law by President Trump — stave off a partial government shutdown set to start Saturday.
Post Politics

Lawmakers say they have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ to avoid government shutdown

Top lawmakers say they have reached a deal to fund the government through the fall, a deal that would resolve ongoing disputes over immigration and — if signed into law by President Trump — stave off a partial government shutdown set to start Saturday.