The Edge Update: Murkowski breaks with party line, wealth in the White House and the sudden crisis in Venezuela

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On Thursday, Sen. Lisa Murkowksi broke with the GOP party line and voted against the defunding of planned Planned Parenthood. The move directly led to a rare stalemate in the senate, requiring a vote from Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie. Pence voted in favor of the motion. Murkowski said she voted against the bill because she could not support any measure that would remove health care options for women. This is not the first time Murkowski has split from her party over women’s health. Frequently, the senator has voted against her party on the issue. Repealing government funding rules “allows states to make that determination that they are going to further limit access to care for women, and I think that that’s taking us backwards,” Murkowski said. “So I voted against it.”

The Congressional Review Act resolution would repeal a rule known as “Title X” that barred states from withholding funding from clinics that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. Taxpayer money cannot be used to fund abortion, but federal funds can be provided to organizations that provide abortions along with other services.


The White House has released financial disclosure forms from dozens of senior staff members. This includes the assets of figures such as Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon. Bannon made at least $1.3 million last year, while the married Kushner and Trump may be worth as much as $741 million. Gary Kohn, former Goldman Sachs executive and current director of the National Economic Council, has assets valued at $252 million to $611 million. Kellyanne Conway, advisor to the president, is modestly wealthy compared to some of her colleagues, making $800,000 last year in consulting fees from groups such as the National Rifle Association and the Tea Party Patriots. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of the released information “…I think it speaks volumes to the desire for a lot of these people to fulfill the president’s vision and move the agenda forward that they are willing to list all of their assets, undergo this public scrutiny, but also set aside a lot.” Spicer has stakes in the Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s and real estate but reported no investments in chewing gum companies.


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Last Wednesday, the Venezuelan supreme court ruled to strip congress of its legislative powers. By Saturday, the court had reversed the ruling. The dispute is political in nature. The court is allied with Nicolas Maduro, the left-wing president, while the legislature is broadly opposed. The ruling, which would have allowed the supreme court the ability to write laws, inspired daily demonstrations by anti-government protesters. Support quickly eroded, with figures normally loyal to the president declaring the move unconstitutional. International pressure mounted as well, with countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Brazil calling for a return to order. Eventually, even the president withdrew support for the ruling himself and the court reversed its decision.

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