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News Wrap: U.S. House Battles Over Slashing Food Stamp Funding

September 19, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the other news of this day: a warning from Pope Francis that the Roman Catholic Church’s moral authority is likely to fall like a house of cards unless it becomes more welcoming.

He told an Italian Jesuit magazine that, “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.” The pontiff said doctrines against abortion, gays and contraception must be balanced against the need to be more merciful. We will have more on this later in the program.

The U.S. House of Representatives debated a bill to slash food stamps by some $40 billion over the next decade. Republicans argued today that the measure provides much-needed reforms to a program that’s expanded to one in seven Americans. Democrats countered with pictures of hungry Americans, and argued the cuts would do great harm, as the two sides battled on the House floor.

REP. ROSA DELAURO, D-Conn.: These $40 billion in cuts go against decades of bipartisan support for the fight against hunger in the United States. They will hurt our economy and they are, in a word, immoral. If this cruel legislation were to become law, at least four million of the nation’s poorest citizens would lose access to the food that they need.

REP. ANDY HARRIS, R-Md.: Republicans aren’t trying to take food out of babies’ mouths or make our seniors go hungry. Don’t believe the scare tactics from my colleagues who oppose the bill. This is a commonsense reform that cuts waste, fraud, and abuse, leaving more money for the Americans who truly need help in time of need.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Democratic-run Senate opposes the House bill, and the White House has threatened a veto if the measure ever makes it to the president.

A Texas appeals court today tossed out the money-laundering conviction of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. In 2010, he was found guilty of illegally channeling $190,000 in corporate donations to Republicans running for the state legislature. The appeals court ruled the state never proved that the money was illegally obtained. Prosecutors plan to appeal.

J.P. Morgan Chase will pay one of the largest fines ever for one of the largest trading losses ever. The fines total $920 million. U.S. and British financial regulators said the bank is also admitting that weak oversight allowed London traders to lose $6 billion. More on this in a moment.

The death toll in Mexico’s disastrous flooding hit 97 today, amid major new destruction. A massive mudslide buried much of a village located deep in the country’s southern mountains. Officials said 58 people are missing there. One survivor told a harrowing story.

CLEOFAS GOMEZ TINOCO, survivor (through interpreter): I was walking down the street, near a store, when I heard a loud noise and I just stood there. I saw how the dirt and dust began to billow up. It was like black smoke, and it turned like a windmill. When I saw that it was coming down to the field, I left running. I didn’t see anymore.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The flooding and mudslides were triggered by a pair of tropical storms that struck last weekend. One devastated Acapulco, then grew into Hurricane Manuel and battered the northwest state of Sinaloa today.

New fighting has erupted in Syria between Islamist gunmen and Western-backed rebels. Activists confirmed today that an al-Qaida offshoot seized a northern town near the Turkish border, driving out fighters with the Free Syrian Army. It was the latest sign of growing infighting in rebel ranks.

U.S. Senator John McCain fired back today at Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last week, in The New York Times, Putin strongly criticized the U.S. and its policy on Syria. Today, on a Russian news Web site, McCain wrote that Putin rules — quote — “by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself.” The Arizona Republican also accused Putin of siding with a tyrant in Syria.

In Egypt, security forces stormed an Islamist stronghold near the Great Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo. They went door to door, hunting down armed supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The soldiers were backed by armored vehicles and helicopters as gunmen fired down on them from the rooftops. The Egyptian security chief vowed today to keep up the pressure.

GEN. MEDHAT EL MENSHAWY, Egypt Special Security Forces (through interpreter): The 55 people who were arrested are those who burned the churches, paraded with the bodies of the policemen, scared the people, and formed the criminal hideouts in Kerdasa. This is just the beginning and we will continue our operation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Islamists seized the town after security forces cracked down on pro-Morsi protesters in Cairo, killing hundreds of people.

The Washington, D.C., Navy Yard reopened today for the first time since a gunman killed 12 people there on Monday. The 16-block walled complex had been closed to all but essential personnel as the FBI investigated. As thousands of employees streamed back to work, Vice Admiral William French said there’s counseling for anyone who wants it.

VICE ADM. WILLIAM FRENCH, U.S. Navy: Some folks and particularly people that are in the military or served in the military can hide things pretty well. So we’re interested in opening people up to make sure we can get to them and get them the help they need.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Navy Yard’s Building 197, where the shootings occurred, remains closed.

Wall Street mostly took a breather today after Wednesday’s rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 40 points to close at 15,636. The Nasdaq rose five points to close at 3,789.

The man who spent more than 50 years at the helm of video game pioneer Nintendo has died. Hiroshi Yamauchi ran the Japanese company from 1949 to 2002. During that time, it grew from a playing card-maker to one of the most popular gaming companies in the world. Yamauchi died today of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan. He was 85 years old.