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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she supports repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a key provision in the Senate Republican tax bill, but she refrained from offering a full endorsement of the tax package."I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy in order to avoid being taxed," Murkowski wrote in an op-ed for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “That is the fundamental reason why I opposed the Affordable Care Act from its inception and also why I co-sponsored a bill to repeal the individual mandate tax penalty starting as early as 2013. And that is why I support the repeal of that tax."Murkowski, who was one of three GOP senators to vote against a partial repeal of Obamacare this summer, notably did not say whether she would vote for the Republican tax plan the Senate will consider after Thanksgiving break.Murkowski is among a number of Republican holdouts on the tax plan. If all Democrats oppose the measure, Senate Republicans can only afford to lose two votes.On Sunday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that she wants to see revisions to the plan."I want to see changes in that bill, and I think there will be changes," Collins, who opposes the individual mandate repeal, said on ABC News' "This Week".Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., announced his opposition to the Senate tax plan, saying it favors corporations over pass-through businesses. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; and John McCain, R-Ariz., have also voiced concerns about the measure.The House passed a $1.5 trillion tax plan that decreased the number of tax brackets and cuts the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. The Senate Finance Committee advanced a bill similar to the House plan out of committee last week, but the Senate measure includes a repeal of the individual mandate.If the Senate passes a tax package, the bill would be reconciled with the measure passed by the House. President Trump has said he wants to sign a tax bill by Christmas."We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas -- hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present,” Trump said Monday.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Lindsay Menz, who has accused Sen. Al Franken of groping her at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, is speaking out about the alleged incident for the first time on camera Wednesday morning."My husband steps away from us to take the photo. I stand next to Sen. Franken, and he pulls me into him and then he moves his hand to my butt," Menz, 33, told ABC News' Chief National Correspondent Tom Llamas. "I was shocked."She added, "I was surprised and kind of wondering, 'Did that really just happen?'"In a statement to ABC News, Franken said, "I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."Menz's claim comes just days after Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her in 2006.In a Nov. 16 blog post, Tweeden claimed that Franken, then a comedian, “forcibly kissed me without my consent” while rehearsing for a skit on a 2006 USO tour to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan. She also posted a photo in which she claims it shows Franken groping her while she was asleep on a military plane.Franken, who was elected as a Democratic senator for Minnesota in 2008, responded to the accusations in a statement obtained by ABC News.“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it,” he said.As a guest on ABC's The View on Nov. 17, Tweeden shared a letter she said Franken sent her that day:“It says, ‘Dear Leeann, I want to apologize to you personally. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture. But that doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I understand why you can feel violated by that photo. I remember that rehearsal differently. But what's important is the impact on you and you felt violated by my actions, and for that I apologize. I have tremendous respect for your work for the USO. And I am ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you. I am so sorry. Sincerely, Al Franken.' ”According to Tweeden, Franken also asked to meet with her personally.Menz told ABC News she wanted to speak publicly about her own alleged experience with Franken so that people believe Tweeden's story and she doesn't feel alone.A spokesperson for Franken told ABC News on Monday night that the senator doesn't plan to resign in light of the second accuser coming forward. The Senate Ethics Committee will investigate the allegations against Franken. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --  House Republicans successfully passed their wide-ranging tax plan Thursday, moving the party one step closer to reshaping the tax code by year’s end.The proposal, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, would add $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years, while decreasing the number of tax brackets and deductions, and slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent -- if it eventually becomes law.House GOP leaders expected roughly a dozen Republicans to vote against the bill. At least nine Republicans from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey came out against the measure ahead of the vote over concerns about the elimination of state and local tax deductions.The final tally included 13 Republicans voting in opposition. The bill passed 227-205. Complicating the bill's ultimate success are attempts to align it with the Senate's version of the plan. Though not yet set for a vote, the Senate bill faces its own concerns from a few GOP senators, and on Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., became the first Republican in that chamber to express his outright opposition.Two additional party members would sink that bill, given unanimous Democratic and independent opposition.President Donald Trump visited the Capitol Thursday morning to speak with the House Republican Conference ahead of the vote.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- A federal judge in New Jersey on Thursday declared a mistrial in the corruption case of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., after the jury indicated it was deadlocked on all counts."We have each tried to look at this case from different viewpoints, but still feel strongly in our positions, nor are we willing to move away from our strong convictions," jurors told U.S. District Judge William Walls when he polled them in his chambers.The judge had earlier indicated he would not seek a partial verdict.This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Al Franken gave a lengthy apology and asked for an ethics investigation after a female radio host claimed he forcibly kissed her when they were performing together for troops overseas and that he made a lewd gesture while she was sleeping.Radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden wrote on ABC station KABC's website Thursday morning that in 2006 -- when Franken was a comedian and not yet Minnesota's junior Democratic senator -- he insisted on kissing her as part of a rehearsal for an act. He later groped her while she was asleep on a military plane on her way home from a USO tour, she also claimed.Franken said in a statement on Thursday, "I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny."As for Tweeden's claims that he insisted on kissing her, he said, "While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences."Franken said, “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate."Here is Franken's full statement released on Thursday:“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing -- and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine -- is: I'm sorry.“I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.“But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us -- including and especially men who respect women -- have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.“For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it -- women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.“Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.“While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.“I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.“And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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