In our news wrap Wednesday, President Trump said he is not happy with reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price billed the government for expensive charter flights. Also, the storm that devastated Puerto Rico returned to hurricane strength off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Hurricane Maria pushed water into dunes and eroded sections of beach.
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In the day's other news: The storm that devastated Puerto Rico returned to hurricane strength today off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Maria's sustained winds of 75 miles an hour pushed water into dunes and eroded large sections of beach. The surge also flooded the only road through Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. More than 10,000 vacationers were forced to evacuate earlier this week.
President Trump and congressional Republicans proposed a sweeping tax reform plan today that could total $5 trillion. It would lower the top tax rate for corporations, double the standard personal deduction, and reduce the number of personal income tax brackets from seven to three. We will explore the plan in detail after the news summary.
Senate Republicans have put aside their effort to replace Obamacare, but the president insisted today that they will be back. Party leaders acknowledge they can't meet Friday's deadline to use the so-called reconciliation process. It would allow a bill pass with just 51 votes.
Still, during his tax speech today, Mr. Trump said it's not over.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:
We have the votes on Graham-Cassidy, but with the rules of reconciliation, we're up against a deadline of Friday, two days. But, early next year, when reconciliation kicks back in, in any event, long before the November election, we're going to have a vote. And we're going to be able to get that through.
The president also said that he's willing to negotiate with Democrats on the health issue.
On another subject, the president said today he is not happy with reports that Health Department Secretary Tom Price billed the government for expensive charter flights. Mr. Trump said today that he let Price know he is disappointed. As to whether Price's job is in jeopardy, he said, "We will see."
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' arrival in Afghanistan today was followed by a barrage of Taliban rockets. The militants fired on Kabul's airport hours after Mattis arrived, and they claimed they targeted his plane. He had already gone to a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani, where he urged the Taliban to stop fighting.
JAMES MATTIS, Secretary of Defense: I want to reinforce to the Taliban that the only path to peace and political legitimacy for them is through a negotiated settlement. We support Afghan-led reconciliation as the solution to this conflict, and the sooner the Taliban recognizes they cannot win with bombs, the sooner the killing will end.
Afghan officials say that one woman was killed and 11 other civilians were wounded in the attack.
In Iraq, the outcome of an independence vote by Kurds is now definite. The election commission there announced today that more than 92 percent of voters approved the move in Monday's referendum. That word came as Iraqi's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ruled out using force to keep the Kurds from breaking away. But he insisted that he will enforce Baghdad's authority.
Back in this country, the University of Louisville placed basketball coach Rick Pitino on unpaid leave. It came after news that the men's basketball program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. Louisville is already under NCAA sanctions over separate allegations that strippers were paid to have sex with players and recruits.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 56 points to close at 22340. The Nasdaq rose 73, and the S&P 500 added 10.