Franken Tops the List of Those Resigning; Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Death Toll Nearly 1,000
Political resignations. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) plans to resign after repeated sexual misconduct allegations. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) also plans to step down because of sexual harassment allegations.
Their announcements come after Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said he will be leaving Congress over allegations of inappropriate behavior toward female staff members which he denied.
The House Ethics Committee is seeking to interview former congressional staffer Lauren Greene who alleges she was sexually harassed by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) when she worked in his office. Farenthold has denied the allegations.
Democrats ultimately decided to push Franken out rather than wait for the outcome of an Ethics Committee investigation that Franken said he would cooperate with.
Democratic senators are expected to join some Republicans who have vowed to move to expel Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore if he is elected.
“There is some irony that I am leaving while a man who bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who preyed on young girls runs for Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said. The same senators who called on Franken to resign lined up to embrace the senator after his speech, some wiping their eyes.
Puerto Rico. At least 985 additional people died in the 40 days after Hurricane Maria compared to the same period in 2016. The average daily death rate increased by 43% after Sept. 20 when the hurricane left Puerto Rico without power. If the entire months of September and October are included (since Hurricane Irma also passed through the island days before María), the figure rises to 1,065 deaths.
The majority of deaths were men and women over 50 who died in hospitals and nursing homes from conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, hypertension, pneumonia and other respiratory disorders.
The numbers are likely to go much higher when November and December figures are tabulated.
No shutdown. Congress passed a two-week funding bill, staving off a government shutdown. Trump met with congressional leaders at the White House to try to jump-start negotiations over a two-year budget deal. They discussed spending levels and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Republicans are pushing to finish work on their trillion-dollar-plus tax cut plan to benefit their rich donors.
Welfare targeted. Congressional Republicans plan to try to reduce spending on federal health care and anti-poverty programs. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he believes he has begun convincing Trump about the need to rein in Medicare, the federal health program that primarily insures the elderly. As a candidate, Trump vowed not to cut spending on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Trump recently called on Congress to move to cut welfare spending after the tax bill.