BY SABRINA GARONE
Tax Reform Passed
On Dec. 19, the House and Senate voted along party lines to pass the Republican’s tax reform bill, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. President Trump signed the bill into law on Dec. 22 in the oval office.
“I consider this very much a bill for the middle class, and a bill for jobs,” said President Trump at the signing. “Jobs are produced through companies and corporations…corporations are literally going wild over this, I think even beyond my expectations.”
The bill represents the largest reduction in the corporate tax rate in U.S. history, as Republicans hope this will create jobs and raise wages. The bill also lowers individual tax rates for over 80 percent of Americans, as well as small business owners, until 2026.
“This is real relief, and people are going to see this in their paychecks before too long,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan in a press conference after the vote. “This is the greatest example of a promise being made and a promise being kept.”
On Jan. 9, mudslides ravaged through Montecito, Calif., carrying millions of pounds worth of trees, boulders and other debris. At least 21 people were killed, and over 100 homes were destroyed.
“I think that most people are shocked at the extent of the damage and how big the impact was to the area,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown in an interview with CBS. “Although we knew this was coming, you couldn’t help but be amazed at the intensity of the storm.”
The mud flow was 750 yards long, 70 yards wide, and between 15 and 20 feet deep. Burn scars left from massive wild fires in the area in December are believed to have contributed to the disaster’s intensity.
Clean up efforts by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers (USACE) are ongoing, removing thousands of pounds of debris a day.
On Jan. 19, the government shut down for three days after lawmakers failed to agree on a spending deal that included funding for immigration reform. After the Senate Democrats’ unsuccessful attempt at extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) as part of the deal, they voted to block a bill that would keep the government running until mid-February.
President Trump placed the blame for the shutdown on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, referring to it as the “Schumer Shutdown.”
“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA,” the president tweeted after the shutdown. “We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!”
During the shutdown, “nonessential” services were forced to close including state parks, monuments and museums. Paychecks for federal employees were also put on hold.
Vice President Visits Middle East
On Jan. 20, Vice President Mike Pence began a diplomatic trip to the Middle East. He met with various leaders throughout the region to discuss President Trump’s policies for a pathway to peace.
The trip comes one month after President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, a decision that upset many of the United States’ Middle Eastern allies.
“My hope is that all of our friends in the region, whether they be in the Christian community, the Jewish community, the Muslim community, or in the Palestinian Authority, will recognize that the Trump Administration is committed to PEACE in the region,” tweeted the vice president.