US House of Representatives passes non-binding war powers resolution

UNTV News   •   January 10, 2020   •   472

Washington – The US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a non-binding resolution to remind President Donald Trump of the key role of Congress in approving any military attack abroad, the move being an attempt to circumscribe the power of the White House to unilaterally undertake “military action” against Iran.

In a 224-194 vote, the Democratic majority in the House approved a motion designed to demonstrate lawmakers’ unease with the fact that the Trump administration did not notify them prior to the operation on Jan. 3 to stage a deadly drone strike on Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani when he was visiting Baghdad.

Eight Democrats opposed the resolution, while three Republicans voted to support it, so it was not a vote that went strictly according to party lines.

To avoid an expected Trump veto, Democratic legislators used a legal formula known as a “concurrent resolution” that will be considered approved once both chambers of Congress ratify it but does not require the signature of the president, and thus cannot become law.

“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said in a statement prior to the vote on the resolution.

“Our concerns were not addressed by the president’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration’s briefing” on the matter on Wednesday, she added.

“This is a statement of the Congress of the United States and I will not have that statement be diminished by whether the president will veto it or not,” Pelosi said.

The resolution is based on the 1973 War Powers Act and demands that the president provide a report to Congress within 48 hours of any offensive military action not based on a formal declaration of war.

After sending the report, the chief executive must end any military action within the next 60 days, with a possible 30-day extension, if Congress does not formally declare war or approve a specific authorization for that foreign military action.

The text of the resolution is based exclusively on a possible conflict with Iran, despite the fact that both Washington and Tehran on Wednesday expressed their willingness – at least for now – to back away from a military confrontation.

The resolution specifically states that Congress has not authorized the president to use military force against Iran.

Although Trump did not inform Congress before the hit on Soleimani, he did notify lawmakers before the 48-hour limit demanded by law, but he did so in a confidential document.

Democrats are planning to push forward with a similar resolution next week in the Senate, but the Republican majority there complicates approval of that text, which would urge Trump to end within 30 days any military action against Iran that was not authorized by Congress.

US donates 100 ventilators to Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   August 28, 2020

U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, and USAID Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II lead the handover of the ventilators at Malacañang Palace on Friday, August 28.

MANILA, Philippines – The United States on Friday donated 100 ventilators and associated supplies to the Philippines in support of its fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, its embassy in Manila said.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III led the turnover of the medical supplies at the Malacañang on Friday.

“These ventilators are part of the continued partnership between the American people and our Philippine friends, partners, and allies.  We will continue to work together to overcome COVID-19,” Ambassador Kim said in a statement.

In addition to the ventilators, the embassy said the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide clinical training and technical assistance to support health facilities to operate ventilators. 

This donation brings the total U.S. contribution to the Philippines’ COVID-19 response to more than Php1 billion ($22.6 million), provided through the U.S. State Department, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Defense. 

The embassy said the DOH will facilitate the delivery of the ventilators to hospitals located across the Philippines in coordination with USAID and the Office of Civil Defense.

DFA condoles with US Pres. Trump on the passing of his brother Robert

Marje Pelayo   •   August 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday (August 16) expressed its heartfelt sympathies to US President Donald Trump and Anne Marie Pallan on the passing of Trump’s younger brother Robert.

Trump expressed his message on the passing of Robert, 71, in a statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary on Saturday (August 15).

“It is with heavy heart that I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight. He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memory will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace,” Trump said in the statement.

Robert Trump was three years younger than the 74-year-old president.

Unlike his celebrity older brother, Donald, Robert silently prospered as a business executive and real estate developer.

He died a day after President Trump paid an emotional visit on Friday (August 14) at a New York hospital before leaving for New Jersey.

There was no information about the cause of Robert’s passing but speaking before the press on Friday, Trump said his brother was “having a hard time” with an undisclosed illness.

Trump to give TikTok’s Chinese owner 45 days to reach deal to sell — sources

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of popular short-video app TikTok to Microsoft Corp, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday (August 2).

U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. Trump said on Friday (July 31) he was planning to ban TikTok in the United States after dismissing the idea of a sale to Microsoft.

But following a discussion between Trump and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the Redwood, Washington-based company said in a statement on Sunday that it would continue negotiations to acquire TikTok from ByteDance, and that it aimed to reach a deal by Sept. 15.

It was not immediately clear what changed Trump’s mind. Banning TikTok would alienate many of its young users ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, and would likely trigger a wave of legal challenges. Several prominent Republican lawmakers put out statements in the last two days urging Trump to back a sale of TikTok to Microsoft.

The negotiations between ByteDance and Microsoft will be overseen by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a U.S. government panel that has the right to block any agreement, according to the sources, who requested anonymity ahead of a White House announcement. Microsoft cautioned in its statement that there is no certainty a deal will be reached. (Reuters)

(Production: Bob Mezan)

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