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Midway's Michala Pullen-Monroe puts up a layup past Copperas Cove's Mariyah Reynolds in the first half.

Shutdown deadline nears; no accord in Trump-Schumer meeting

WASHINGTON — The government careened toward shutdown Friday night in a chaotic close to Donald Trump’s first year as president. An eleventh-hour effort to stave off the shutdown for four weeks appeared to fall well short in the Senate, and lawmakers preemptively traded blame as the midnight deadline neared.

Enough senators voted against a stopgap measure to ensure the closure of all but essential operations nationwide. But the Republican-led Senate was holding the vote open as nearly an hour ticked by and the midnight hour neared, seemingly accommodating the numerous discussions among leaders and other lawmakers away from the chamber’s floor.

Up to that point, Democrats largely held together to block the funding legislation, digging in on their insistence that the spending bill include protections for some 700,000 younger immigrants facing deportation.

After hours of heated closed-door meetings and phone calls, including with the White House, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a House-passed plan. It failed by far to gain the 60 votes to break a Democratic filibuster, with a handful of red-state Democrats crossing the aisle to support the measure and some Republicans voting in opposition.

Even before the vote, Trump was pessimistic, tweeting, “Not looking good” and blaming the Democrats who he said actually wanted the shutdown “to help diminish the success” of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month.

The president watched the results from the White House residence, dialing up allies and affirming his belief that Democrats would take the blame for the shutdown, said a person familiar with his conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

The election-year standoff marked a test of the president’s much vaunted deal-making skills — and of both parties’ political fortitude. Republicans, who control both Congress and the White House, faced the prospect of being blamed for the display of dysfunction — just the fourth shutdown in a quarter-century. It could also threaten to slow any GOP momentum after passage of the party’s signature tax law.

Democrats, too, risked being labeled obstructionist. Republicans branded the confrontation a “Schumer shutdown” and argued that Democrats were harming fellow Americans to protect “illegal immigrants.”

Trump had brought Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to the White House Friday afternoon in hopes of cutting a deal. But the two New Yorkers, who pride themselves on their negotiating abilities, emerged without an agreement, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress continued to pass off responsibility.

“We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements,” Schumer said upon returning to Capitol Hill. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN that “Not much has changed” over the course of the day, but he predicted a deal would be reached by Monday, when most government offices are to reopen after the weekend.

Democrats in the Senate had served notice they would filibuster a four-week extension, the government-wide funding bill that cleared the House Thursday evening. They were seeking an even shorter extension that they think would keep the pressure on the White House to cut a deal to protect “dreamer” immigrants — who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally — before their legal protection runs out in March.

Trump described his discussion with Schumer as an “excellent preliminary meeting,” tweeting that lawmakers are “Making progress - four week extension would be best!” But that optimism faded as the evening wore on.

Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said Trump told Schumer to work things out with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. McConnell did not attend the meeting because he was not invited, a Senate GOP aide said.

Trump had been an unreliable negotiator in the weeks leading up to the showdown. Earlier this week he tweeted opposition to the four-week plan, forcing the White House to later affirm his support. He expressed openness to extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, only to reject a bipartisan proposal. His disparaging remarks about African and Haitian immigrants last week helped derail further negotiations.

Trump had been set to leave Friday afternoon to attend a fundraiser at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate marking the one-year anniversary of his inauguration but delayed his travel.

“I think the president’s been very clear: he’s not leaving until this is finished,” Mulvaney told reporters.

No major concessions

As word of the Schumer meeting spread, the White House hastened to reassure Republican congressional leaders that Trump would not make any major policy concessions, said a person familiar with the conversations but not authorized to be quoted by name.

On Capitol Hill, McConnell said Americans at home would be watching to see “which senators make the patriotic decision” and which “vote to shove aside veterans, military families and vulnerable children to hold the entire country hostage... until we pass an immigration bill.”

Across the Capitol, the House backed away from a plan to adjourn for a one-week recess, meaning the GOP-controlled chamber could wait for a last-minute compromise that would require a new vote. But it wasn’t coming Friday night.

“We can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” said Schumer, insisting on more urgency in talks on immigration. “In another month, we’ll be right back here, at this moment, with the same web of problems at our feet, in no better position to solve them.”

The four-week measure would be the fourth stopgap spending bill since the current budget year started in October. A pile of unfinished Capitol Hill business has been on hold, first as Republicans ironed out last fall’s tax bill and now as Democrats insist on progress on immigration. Talks on a budget deal to ease tight spending limits on both the Pentagon and domestic agencies are on hold, as is progress on a huge $80 billion-plus disaster aid bill.

Before Thursday night’s House approval, GOP leaders sweetened the stopgap measure with legislation to extend for six years a popular health care program for children from low-income families and two-year delays in unpopular “Obamacare” taxes on medical devices and generous employer-provided health plans.

A shutdown would be the first since 2013, when tea party Republicans — in a strategy not unlike the one Schumer is employing now — sought to use a must-pass funding bill to try to force then-President Barack Obama to delay implementation of his marquee health care law.

Full-size opportunity
Miniature aircraft club creates TSTC aviation scholarship

A group of miniature aircraft enthusiasts is doing its part to help local students master full-size flight.

The Heart of Texas Miniature Aircraft Club has created a $1,000 annual scholarship that will go to a Texas State Technical College aviation student.

Club President Stephen Bird said the scholarship will fund flying fees for a student. The announcement came at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce Aviation Alliance meeting Friday.

Club spokesman Corey Streza, a TSTC graduate, said the scholarship aims to help a student from Central Texas.

“I earned a scholarship my second year similar to the one we’re offering, and it helped tremendously,” Streza said. “Usually in the second year, the light’s at the end of the tunnel. You’re almost done. You can see it, you can grab it, and finances are usually what slow those kids down.”

Carson Pearce, TSTC Aerospace Division director, pointed to data indicating pilots have greater returns on their educational investment than teachers, lawyers and doctors. Pearce also said there is a worldwide shortage of about 22,500 pilots.

Additionally, Boeing Co. has said it needs 612,000 pilots worldwide through 2032.

“Whenever we graduate somebody and put them into the workforce as a pilot we’re meeting a critical infrastructure need in the country,” Pearce said. “The $1,000 scholarship from HOTMAC represents $33,000 in earning potential to the graduate that receives it.”

HOTMAC was formed in 1964 and used sites at Cameron Park and James Connally Air Force Base. Its approximately 100 members now fly planes less than 55 pounds at a 39-acre flying site near Speegleville Park.

Candidates start filing for McLennan County city, school races

Three days into the filing period, candidates have started throwing their names in for McLennan County school district and city council races for the May 5 election.

Filing applications will be accepted through Feb. 16. The last day to register to vote is April 5.

In the city of Waco, seats are open for mayor and two council positions. Mayor Kyle Deaver, an attorney and business executive, has filed for re-election to a second two-year term, while District 3 Councilman John Kinnaird, 38, a bank investment manager, has filed for a fourth term.

Two have filed for the District 1 seat that represents East Waco, Cameron Park and Timbercrest. The council appointed Noah Jackson Jr. to the seat last summer after the death of Councilman Wilbert Austin, but Jackson has said he does not intend to run for a full term.

Andrea Barefield, executive director of the Texas Brazos Trails program, and Cecil McDowell, a retiree and store owner, filed for the seat. Barefield, 41, is the daughter of former Mayor Mae Jackson and until recently served as Waco Main Street Manager. McDowell, 73, has run for council several times, including a run against Austin in 2014. Both McDowell and Barefield applied last summer to fill Austin’s vacated council seat.

Waco Independent School District incumbents Pat Atkins and Stephanie Korteweg have filed to run for another term on the board. Atkins serves as the board president, and Korteweg represents District Two. Candidates can file to run for the positions currently held Atkins, Korteweg and board Secretary Norman Manning, who represents District 1. Manning has been vocal about running again but had yet to file as of Friday. School board members serve three-year terms.

City council races

  • Bellmead City Council

No one has filed for any of the three seats for Bellmead City Council. The seats up for election are held by Precinct 3 council member Mark Pace, Precinct 4 council member William Ridings and at-large council member Gary Moore.

  • Beverly Hills City Council

No one has filed for any of the three, two-year seats on the Beverly Hills City Council. Residents can file to run for seats held by council members Joe Frank Holder, Tony Garcia and Michael Thompson.

  • Crawford City Council

No one has filed for any of the three, at-large, two-year-terms on the Crawford City Council. The incumbents for the positions are Frances Roe, Terrence Smith and Jamie Burgess.

  • Hewitt City Council

Ward 1, Place 2 Councilman Wilbert “Walky” Wachtendorf, Ward 2, Place 2 councilman Bill Fuller and Ward 3 councilman Steve Fortenberry all filed for re-election this week. All positions are for two-year terms.

  • Lacy Lakeview City Council

No one has filed for the three at-large seats held by Amy Hall, Patrick Bell and Jerry Hall.

  • Lorena City Council

No one has filed for the three seats held by J. Fagner, Jeff Linnstaedter and Kelly Yarbrough.

  • Mart City Council

Three people filed this week for the Mart City Council. Incumbents Henry Witt III and Kevin Schaffer each filed for re-election, and newcomer Tomas Mansfield filed for office. Three seats with two-year terms are up for election. Council member Zac Byrd holds the third seat. Residents can also file for the unexpired term, which is one year, held by John Garrett.

  • McGregor City Council

Jeffrey Clayton Douglas filed for the Ward 4 council seat this week. Residents can file to run for the seats held by Ward 2 council member Paul Allison, Ward 4 council member Joe Leos, and Mayor Jimmy Hering.

  • Valley Mills City Council

No one filed for the three seats up for election on the Valley Mills City Council. Residents can file to run for the at-large seat held by council member Bill Lancaster, Seat No. 3, held by Rodney Nichols, and Seat No. 5, held by Curtis Wiethorn.

  • Woodway City Council

Woodway residents can apply for two seats on the city council. The terms end in May for seats held by Ward 3, Place 1 council member Gil Lillard and Ward 2, Place 1 council member Mike Tamberella.

School district races

  • Bosqueville ISD

Incumbent Jeff Bird has filed to run for one of the three at-large positions up for election. The other seats are held by Robby James and Heath Jackson. School board members serve three-year terms.

  • China Spring ISD

China Spring has three at-large seats open for this election. Newcomers Matt Penney, who works at Baylor University, and Trey Oakley, who works at Methodist Children’s Home have filed for the election, along with Board Vice President Jeff Bradburn. Seats up for election are held by Bradburn, Secretary Jeff Garrett and Boyd Kent.

  • Connally ISD

No one has filed yet for Connally ISD’s board election. Terms will be expiring for Board President Steven Carter, Vice President Greg Davis and Mike Anderson. All three seats are at-large and are three-year terms.

  • Crawford ISD

No one has filed for the two at-large seats with three-year terms held by Vice President Marvin Hickey and Assistant Secretary Michael Hazzard.

  • La Vega ISD

No one has filed yet for La Vega ISD’s two at-large seats up for grabs in May. Candidates can file to run for seats held by Assistant Secretary Phil Bancale and Myron Ridge.

Board members serve three-year terms.

  • Lorena ISD

No one has filed yet for the three at-large seats with three-year terms held by Greg Hansen, Michelle Nicoletti and Secretary William Woody.

  • Marlin ISD

No one has filed yet for Marlin ISD’s open seats in District C and District D. Because state officials appointed a board of managers to take over the duties and power of the elected board in February 2017, anyone elected will not be able to serve until the board of managers is removed by the state.

  • Mart ISD

Only incumbents Russell Carroll and Secretary Sara Deike have filed for their at-large positions that come with three-year terms.

  • Midway ISD

Incumbent Tom Pagel is the only person who has filed so far for one of Midway ISD’s two at-large seats with three-year terms that are up for grabs. The other seat is held by Bobby Deaton.

  • Valley Mills ISD

No one has filed yet for the three at-large seats with three-year-terms held by Bret Hodges, Tammie Mann-Chrisman or Secretary Mike Jones.

McLennan County candidates report campaign contributions, spending

Documents submitted this week provide a first look at how much McLennan County candidates are raising and spending in preparation for the March primary and November general election.

Candidates vying for the district attorney’s seat, the county judge seat, or to represent Precinct 2 or Precinct 4 as county commissioners have submitted campaign finance reports to the elections office.

The campaign finance forms cover how much each donor has given and how the candidates have spent on the campaign. This round of reports covers the time between each candidate appointing a campaign treasurer and the end of last year.

Candidates will file updated reports 30 days and eight days before the election.

Early voting starts Feb. 20 for the March 6 primary.

The last day to register to vote is Feb. 5.

Precinct 2

Three Republicans will face each other in the March primary for the Precinct 2 county commissioner seat while two Democrats square off as they vie for a spot on the November ballot.

Precinct 2 will have a new elected official as Commissioner Lester Gibson steps down after almost three decades in the role.

Republican Donis “D.L.” Wilson, 53, of Mart, has raised the most among Precinct 2 candidates so far.

Wilson reported receiving $15,475 between Aug. 23 and Dec. 31. He has spent $10,424.65, according to his report. He received two large in-kind donations, including a signed guitar worth $500 from country and western singer Johnny Lee and a gun worth about $900 from Aaron Dieterich, of Dieterich Dozer.

Patricia “Pat” Chisolm-Miller, 58, a Democrat, of Waco, received $3,937 in campaign contributions between Oct. 2 and Dec. 31, according to her report. Chisolm-Miller spent $2,998.01 during that time. Her largest contribution was $1,350 from Robert Miller, of Waco.

Gina Ford, 44, a Republican, of Axtell, received $2,550 in campaign contributions and spent $3,049 between Oct. 2 and Dec. 31, according to her report.

Ford’s largest donations were $500 from Stuart Redding, of Waco, president of Specialty Restoration of Texas; $500 from Ellen Derrick, of Waco, a realtor with Kelly Realtors; and $500 from Damon Reed, of China Spring, an attorney.

Vernon Davis, 58, a Republican, of Waco, received no contributions and spent $6,547.82 between Dec. 11 and Dec. 31.

Norman Manning, 67, a Democrat, of Waco, received $2,375 and spent $1,468.97.

Precinct 4

Two Republicans will face off in the March primary for the Precinct 4 county commissioner seat.

Mel Priest, 53, of Waco, is challenging incumbent Ben Perry, 55, of Waco, for the seat.

Priest raised $2,080.09 between Oct. 2 and Dec. 31 and spent $1,712.42, according to her campaign finance report. Her largest donation was $1,000 from Philip Lowry, of Crawford, who is retired, according to the report.

Perry received $9,700 in campaign contributions and spent $1,000 between July 1 and Dec. 31, according to his campaign finance report. His largest contribution came from Rick or Debbie Hines, of China Spring. No business was listed for the Hineses.

County judge

Two people are challenging Republican County Judge Scott Felton, 73, for his seat at the head of the commissioners court.

Neither Democrat Rick Allen, 64, or George Horsley, 50, a Libertarian, submitted a campaign finance report.

Between July 15 and Dec. 31, Felton received no contributions, according to his campaign finance report. He spent $2,794.97.

The balance of Felton’s maintained political contributions as of the last day of the reporting period was $14,562.18.

District attorney

Two Republicans will face off in the March primary for the district attorney seat, and the winner will then face a Democrat and an Independent in the November general election.

Incumbent Abel Reyna, 45, a Republican, of Waco, raised the most during this round of reporting of anyone seeking a McLennan County office. He received $17,265 in contributions and spent $23,226 between July 1 and Dec. 31. Reyna’s largest contributions during that time from included $2,000 from Wesley Waller, of Robinson; $750 from John Snapp, of Bruceville; and $620 from Robert Hyde, of Hewitt. No occupation was listed on the report for those three donors.

The balance of Reyna’s maintained political contributions as of the last day of the reporting period was $101,499.21.

Fellow Republican Barry Johnson, 61, a Republican, of Waco, received $15,075 in contributions and spent $9,076.17 between Nov. 19 and Dec. 21.

Johnson’s largest contributions included $5,000 from Buddy Collier, of McGregor, Leland Collier Electric owner; and $5,000 from Deane Johnson, of Waco, who is retired.

Democrat Seth Sutton, 43, of Waco, received $3,350 in contributions and did not spend any money between Dec. 12 and Dec. 31. Sutton’s largest contribution was $2,500 from Sharon Fowler, of Eddy. No occupation was listed for Fowler.

Independent Daniel Hare, 39, of Hewitt, received no contributions and spent $143.67 between Dec. 8 and Dec. 31.

Christa McAuliffe's lost lessons finally taught in space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Christa McAuliffe’s lost lessons are finally getting taught in space.

Thirty-two years after the Challenger disaster, a pair of teachers turned astronauts will pay tribute to McAuliffe by carrying out her science classes on the International Space Station.

As NASA’s first designated teacher in space, McAuliffe was going to experiment with fluids and demonstrate Newton’s laws of motion for schoolchildren. She never made it to orbit: She and six crewmates were killed during liftoff of space shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986.

Astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold will perform some of McAuliffe’s lessons over the next several months. Acaba shared the news during a TV linkup Friday with students at her alma mater, Framingham State University near Boston.

“I can’t think of a better time or a better place to make this announcement,” Acaba said. He and Arnold “look forward to helping to inspire the next generation of explorers and educators.”

Four lessons — on effervescence or bubbles, chromatography, liquids and Newton’s laws — will be filmed by Acaba and Arnold, then posted online by the Challenger Center, a not-for-profit organization supporting science, technology, engineering and math education.

The center’s president, Lance Bush, said he’s thrilled “to bring Christa’s lessons to life.”

“We are honored to have the opportunity to complete Christa’s lessons and share them with students and teachers around the world,” Bush said in a statement.

On Friday, he thanked Acaba, who along with two station crewmates fielded questions from Framingham State students about life in space.

NASA’s associate administrator for education, Mike Kincaid, said the lessons are “an incredible way to honor and remember” McAuliffe as well as the entire Challenger crew.

Four of the six lessons that McAuliffe planned to videotape during her space flight will be done. A few will be altered to take advantage of what’s available aboard the space station.

The lessons should be available online beginning this spring.

Acaba returns to Earth at the end of February. Arnold flies up in March. NASA is billing their back-to-back missions as “A Year of Education on Station.”

The two were teaching middle school math and science on opposite sides of the world — Acaba in Florida and Arnold in Romania — when NASA picked them as educator-astronauts in 2004.

McAuliffe was teaching history, law and economics at Concord High School in New Hampshire when she was selected as the primary candidate for NASA’s teacher in space project in 1985.

Her backup, Barbara Morgan, is on the Challenger Center’s board of directors. Morgan was NASA’s first educator-astronaut, flying on shuttle Endeavour in 2007 and helping to build the space station.

McAuliffe planned to keep a journal during her space shuttle mission, and one college student asked if the astronauts were doing the same. Acaba said he’s been making entries in a leather-bound journal during his 14 years as an astronaut. He writes in it every night before he goes to sleep on the space station.

“When I’m sitting on my porch sometime in the future, I’ll look back on all these great times,” Acaba said.