SENATE REPUBLICANS RAILROAD BUDGET THROUGH IN WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING: Senators held an initial 34-15 vote Thursday evening, then returned at 12:05 a.m. Friday to take a final vote, because the chamber’s rules require that the two mandatory votes to pass the bill can’t be taken on the same day. The Senate GOP has referred to the plan as a “billion-dollar middle-class tax cut,” but Democrats note that it would reduce revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars. “We cannot meet our core responsibilities as a state if we continue to give away money to corporations and those at the top,” said Sen. Mike Woodard, a Durham Democrat. As Democrats continued to file amendments, Republicans apparently grew frustrated and called for a break until 2:30 a.m. Some senators took naps, while others held an impromptu dance party in the halls of the Legislative Building. Jackson’s amended passed 34-13 and the Senate then took its final budget vote shortly after 3 a.m. Friday.
TAX CUTS IN SENATE BUDGET COME UNDER FIRE BY DEMOCRATS: Senate budget chairman Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said the proposal "reduces the tax burden on North Carolina families and small businesses." But Democrats said the tax cut would benefit the wealthy and corporations more than the average family and argued the money would be better invested in education and economic and workforce development. "We’ve seen many folks feel like they’ve been left behind in the recovery process. This budget before us doesn’t work for those families," argued Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham. "We can’t keep cooking up new schemes for the wealthy if want to meet our potential as a state." "This is like putting a $600 million hole in the budget. It’s fiscally irresponsible," agreed Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham. "It's just a billionaire's budget."
TRUMP GETS HIS LIES CONFUSED ON COMEY FIRING: Trump met Monday in the Oval Office with Sessions and Rosenstein, where he supposedly asked for a written summary of Comey’s performance, which White House officials had said guided the president’s decision. But in the interview that aired Thursday, Trump said he’d decided to fire Comey before he met with Sessions and Rosenstein. “He’s a showboat. He’s a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil,” Trump said. “You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.” At the White House, where reporters peppered officials with questions about the firing for the third day in a row, Sanders defended her previous statements, accusing journalists of getting caught up in “process stories.”
ICE OFFICE IN CHARLOTTE BREAKING UP IMMIGRANT FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN: Every six months for the past three years, David Ramirez and his wife, Cindy, traveled to Charlotte to continue their visa application process. “We go, they just sign a paper, and then you go home,” Ramirez said. Last week, the couple headed to Charlotte again, expecting the same routine, but this time his wife was detained. Ramirez would have been detained too, he said, if not for his two daughters, who are U.S. citizens. Instead, he was allowed to leave, but given self-deportation orders. “It’s like the 17th of June that I got to leave the country. I got to go to Charlotte with a ticket in hand,” he said. “I just could not believe that a family like this would show up for their appointed immigration hearing and then be put in handcuffs before their kids,” a friend said.
FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER HOLDS HUMAN TRAFFICKING FORUM: Prosecutors, law enforcement officers, the head of a community organization and the mother of a victim spoke and answered questions at the event, which was sponsored by The Fayetteville Observer. About 50 people attended. The panelists said many people don’t realize how prevalent human trafficking is in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Human trafficking often starts when victims who are addicted to drugs, especially heroin, are coerced into prostitution. Families often have trouble confronting the problem and don’t know where to turn for help.