The World-Herald’s Washington Bureau rounds up news highlights from Capitol Hill and beyond.
Bob Kerrey wants the X-rays. President Donald Trump recently renewed his criticism of John McCain, despite the Republican senator’s death last year. That prompted former Nebraska Gov. and Sen. Bob Kerrey to return rhetorical fire during an appearance on CNN last week.
Kerrey and McCain were both seriously wounded while serving in Vietnam.
McCain was injured when his plane was shot down and he was held as a prisoner of war. Kerrey lost the lower part of his right leg to a grenade.
Asked about Trump’s attacks, Kerrey stood up for his old friend McCain and noted that Trump has said he wasn’t drafted for the war because of bone spurs on his heels.
“You don’t grow out of bone spurs,” Kerrey said. “And I call on the president — get your feet X-rayed. Let’s see those X-rays.”
Kerrey went on to suggest that Trump faked the condition in order to dodge the draft.
“I think he sees all of us who went to Vietnam as fools,” Kerrey said of Trump. “We were the suckers. We were the stupid ones. We were the ones that didn’t have the resources to be able to get out of the draft. He had the resources, and he got out of it.
“So show us your bone spurs. Let’s see those X-rays. Because I think the X-rays will show that he doesn’t have bone spurs, and then he’d have to say, ‘OK, I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. I got out of the war. While John McCain was flying combat missions, I made every single effort I could to avoid the draft.’ ”
In an interview with the Fox Business Network, Trump said he keeps talking about McCain because the media keep bringing him up. But he also didn’t back off his criticism of the deceased senator.
Trump pointed in particular to the deciding vote that McCain cast against Republicans’ proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m not a fan,” Trump said. “He was horrible, what he did with repeal and replace. What he did to the Republican Party and to the nation and to sick people that could have had great health care was not good. So I’m not a fan of John McCain, and that’s fine.”
Big votes coming. Congress returns from recess this week with some high-profile votes on tap. Senate Republicans plan to put Democrats on the spot by bringing up what is known as the Green New Deal. Pushed by some on the left, the nonbinding resolution calls for swift and dramatic action to combat climate change.
Critics have cast it as a pie-in-the-sky liberal wish list, and even some Democrats in farm country have cringed over rhetoric on agriculture in discussions about the proposal.
The House, meanwhile, is expected to vote on whether to override the president’s veto of legislation overturning his national emergency declaration diverting billions of dollars to a southern border wall.
All House Republicans from Nebraska and Iowa backed the president on the first vote. Democrats are not expected to succeed in overriding the veto, but they got fresh debate ammunition with the leaking of internal memos from the commandant of the Marines.
The Los Angeles Times obtained the memos, in which Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller warns that the president’s border security moves, including troop deployments and fund transfers, have posed “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.”
Help for tax filers. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee. He welcomed a recent IRS announcement that the agency would ease penalties on tax filers who found that they didn’t have enough withheld during 2018.
The aim is to help those tripped up by the sweeping GOP tax overhaul.
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“This further relief for taxpayers is welcome news for taxpayers who weren’t fully prepared and may have been inadvertently under-withheld due to the significant changes made to the tax code following legislative reforms in the last Congress,” Grassley said in a press release.
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the biggest change to the federal tax code in a generation. This is a reasonable approach in the first year after major reforms to allow taxpayers some flexibility to avoid paying unexpected penalties.”