Thursday September 19, 2019
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US House Votes to Reopen Government, Rejects Wall Money by Donald Trump

The partial government shutdown stretched into its 13th day on Thursday, when the new Democratic House majority was sworn in

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Indian American Congressman asks Trump to end government shutdown. VOA

The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives has passed a legislative package aimed at ending the partial government shutdown without paying for President Donald Trump border wall, drawing a veto threat from the White House.

The first bill passed by the House on Thursday in a 239-192 vote was a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 that would not allocate any new wall spending. Five Republicans joined Democrats in approving the legislation.

Then, the House voted 241-190 to approve funds for six agencies, including Departments of State, Commerce, Agriculture, Labour, Treasury and other agencies through September 30, the end of the current fiscal year, CNN reported.

The package will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is expected to be blocked. This will leave congressional Democrats and the administration at a stalemate, with the partial shutdown no closer to getting resolved.

It has affected hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have either been furloughed or have had to work without pay.

Trump has said he will reject any measure that does not provide $5 billion in funding for his wall on the Mexican border. Newly-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the proposed border wall as “waste of money”.

“We’re asking the President to open up government,” she told the Today show before the first session of the new House. “We have given the Republicans a chance to take yes for an answer.”

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Donald Trump. VOA

Democrats say that Trump was holding government funding hostage for the wall, which they feel was “unnecessary and ineffective”.

Congressional leaders from both parties were expected to meet the President for another round of budget talks at the White House on Friday.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans will not back measures that Trump does not support and called the Democrats’ move a “total non-starter” and a “political sideshow”.

As of Thursday, 102 women serve in the House, an all-time high, including 36 newly-elected members and a record 43 women of colour.

The new members included the first Muslim congresswoman — Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, who took her oath on the Quran — and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, who became the first person to wear a hijab in Congress.

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New Mexico’s Debra Haaland and Kansas’ Sharice Davids were the first Native American congresswomen in the House, while New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman to be elected to Congress.

The White House had issued a veto threat against the legislative package ahead of the House vote.

The partial government shutdown stretched into its 13th day on Thursday, when the new Democratic House majority was sworn in. (IANS)

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New York Government Pushing to Enact Statewide Ban on Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes

The council can issue emergency regulations that would go into effect as soon as they are voted on

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FILE - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seen in this Jan. 2019 file photo, says he's directing state health officials to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, citing the risk of young people getting addicted to nicotine, Jan. 29, 2019. VOA

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns connected to vaping, especially among young people.

The Democrat announced Sunday that the state health commissioner would be making a recommendation this week to the state Public Health and Health Planning Council. The council can issue emergency regulations that would go into effect as soon as they are voted on and start being enforced in as soon as two weeks, following a short grace period for retailers, officials said.

In announcing the action, Cuomo sharply criticized the flavors that are for sale, like bubble gum and cotton candy.

“These are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people,” he said.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns connected to vaping. Pixabay

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns connected to vaping, especially among young people.

The Democrat announced Sunday that the state health commissioner would be making a recommendation this week to the state Public Health and Health Planning Council. The council can issue emergency regulations that would go into effect as soon as they are voted on and start being enforced in as soon as two weeks, following a short grace period for retailers, officials said.

In announcing the action, Cuomo sharply criticized the flavors that are for sale, like bubble gum and cotton candy.

“These are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people,” he said.

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The biggest player in the industry, Juul Labs Inc., said it was reviewing the announcement, but agreed with the need for action.

The ban would not impact tobacco- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, but Cuomo said the Department of Health would continue evaluating and that could change.

Cuomo signed legislation earlier this year raising the statewide smoking age to 21, and earlier this month signed a mandate that requires state anti-tobacco campaigns to also include vaping.

Vaping is also under a federal spotlight , as health authorities look into hundreds of breathing illnesses reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

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The Democrat announced Sunday that the state health commissioner would be making a recommendation this week to the state Public Health and Health Planning Council. Pixabay

In his first public comments on vaping, President Donald Trump proposed a similar federal ban last week.

The FDA has been able to ban vaping flavors since 2016, but hasn’t taken the step, with officials looking into whether flavors could help cigarette smokers to quit.

The global market is estimated to have a value of as much as $11 billion. The industry has spent a lot of money in states around the country to lobby against state-level flavored e-cigarette bans, in states including Hawaii, California, Maine and Connecticut.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month ordered that state’s health department to come out with emergency rules to prohibit flavored e-cigarette sales.

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Juul reiterated Sunday the agreeable stance it had taken following Trump’s proposal.

In an emailed statement, spokesman Austin Finan said, “We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products,” and “will fully comply with local laws and the final FDA policy when effective.” (VOA)