In our news wrap Friday, President Trump signed the Republicans' $1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law, his first major legislative victory. Also, Congress returned home for the holidays after passing a government spending bill to keep the government from shutting down at least until January. Lawmakers failed to tackle disaster relief spending, DACA protections and children’s health care.
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President Trump signed the Republicans' $1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law today. He marked his first major legislative victory in the Oval Office, and said the numbers will speak to Americans, despite polls showing the bill is seen unfavorably.
President Donald Trump:
I think it's selling itself. It's becoming very popular, but I think it will really — you will see something on February 1, when they open up the paycheck. That's when you're going to start to see it, because by signing it now, it kicks in for this year.
The president also signed a spending bill to keep the government open into January. It includes additional money for missile defense.
Afterward, Mr. Trump flew to Florida to spend the holidays with his family at his Mar-a-Lago resort. He will stay there until New Year's Day.
Members of Congress headed to their homes for the holidays after passing that government funding bill last night. But the Senate balked at voting on a disaster relief bill worth $81 billion. Lawmakers also put off action on protecting young immigrants from deportation, and providing long-term health care funding for poor children.
Democrats are pressing Republicans not to wrap up investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter today to Speaker Paul Ryan. In it, Pelosi says — quote — "Political haste must not cut short valid investigatory threads."
A number of Republicans are saying, however, it is time to finish the probes.
It turns out that Russian hackers targeted at least 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers starting in mid-2014. The Associated Press reports today that they were the third largest group hit, after diplomats and Democrats. U.S. intelligence agencies say the hackers acted on behalf of the Russian government.
The U.N. Security Council voted today to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea. They curb the North's oil imports and force its overseas workers to return home, cutting off a source of hard currency. The U.S. drafted the measure, and Ambassador Nikki Haley said its unanimous approval shows the level of international outrage.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Should the North Korean regime conduct another nuclear or ballistic missile test, this resolution commits the Security Council to take even further action. It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation.
The resolution was triggered by North Korea's latest missile launch last month.
New fighting erupted today between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Gaza and the West Bank. Gaza's Health Ministry said two Palestinians were killed when security forces used live ammunition and tear gas. The Israelis said they responded to violent riots. Protests began after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
In Spain, Catalonia's bid for independence appeared to gain new momentum after separatists won a majority in regional elections.
Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News reports from Barcelona.
It looks like Spanish victory, when in fact, it's the opposite. One pro-Spain party took 25 percent of Catalonia's vote last night, but that's not enough to form a government, so the single biggest political force here was putting a brave face on defeat.
Instead, a ragtag bunch of independence parties has confounded the might of the Spanish state. Their vote is slightly down on two years ago. But with their leaders jailed or in exile after Spain imposed direct rule, the turmoil of the last few months has barely dented them.
And so Carles Puigdemont, the deposed Catalan president, is likely president again, though he didn't tell his party workers here last night if he would dare return. Mr. Puigdemont was accused of running away to Brussels, but Catalans, dreaming of independence have shown they don't care. This morning, he said he would meet the Spanish prime minister anywhere but Spain, and that he wants his old job back.
Carles Puigdemont (through inetrpreter): Despite all the force come from the Spanish state, violence, oppression, despite this, we are stronger than ever.
And Spain's prime minister is weaker than ever, weakened by a regional election he himself called. The divisions are huge, he said, ruling out independence once again.
Mariano Rajoy (through interpreter): I will make an effort to maintain dialogue with whatever government comes out of these elections in Catalonia. But I will also make an effort to see that the law is followed.
What is staggeringly absent here is any sense of compromise. Spanish unionists are still banking that the sun will set on the dreamers the more turmoil they seem to create. For now, though, the independistas believe they are on the up.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, the saying goes, and theirs is a dream refusing to lie down and die.
That report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.
Back in this country, a published report finds an exodus from the federal Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office. The New York Times says more than 700 employees have left, including more than 200 scientists and nine department directors. The report says that most will not be replaced, as Administrator Scott Pruitt scales back the EPA's work force.
Several former Miss Americas are calling for the pageant's CEO and others to resign over vulgar, sexist e-mails. They circulated among CEO Sam Haskell and pageant board members, and targeted former winners with sexual slurs and other demeaning comments. The organization's TV partner cut ties with the pageant overnight.
The digital currency Bitcoin plunged again today by another 9.5 percent. Its valued had surged this from about $1,000 to nearly $20,000. But it's down nearly 40 percent this week.
Meanwhile, stocks slipped in quiet trading. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 28 points to close at 24754. The Nasdaq fell five points, and the S&P 500 slipped one.
And Hall of Fame sportscaster Dick Enberg has died of an apparent heart attack at his home in San Diego. Enberg's career spanned 60 years, calling Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Fours, baseball and football, with his signature cry of "Oh, my." The San Diego Padres even stamped it on the field when he retired last year.
Guess it'd be obvious what I should say now, but it's already out there on the grass. Oh, the heck with it. I'm going to say it anyway. Oh, my!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
He left a mark. Dick Enberg was 82 years old.