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This discussion will continue the posts from the Presidential Prayer Team website.

It's tempting when praying for our country to focus our prayers more on politics and people than on God and His purposes.  Whether we're praying for a reversal of the moral decline at all levels of our society, or for wisdom and integrity for our leaders, or for America's place in the world, there are spiritual realities that underlie all that we see (and pray for) on the surface.

If we really believe that God answers prayer, then praying for our country and for our leaders has far more impact than lobbying for bills, boycotting organizations, or campaigning for candidates.  God will call some of us to activities like that.  But he calls us all to pray.  Who knows but that God might be in a similar place with America that he was with Israel in Ezekiel's day:

"I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one." -- Ezekiel 22:30

We pray to a God who longs to bring healing to our wounds and unity to our division.  Many believe this promise made to Israel still applies today (though America is not "my people" to God in the same way that Israel was):

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." -- 2 Chronicles 7:14

It is up to the Church today to take the lead in opening the door for God's healing through prayer.  Please join in!  Feel free to post responses or simply to pray along the lines of the PPT's prayer items.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

President Donald Trump will have lunch today with Vice President Mike Pence in the private dining room of the White House. Later, in the East Room, the president will present the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Travis W. Atkins, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry. Atkins died in Iraq, shielding fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber’s explosive vest. Atkins’ parents and his son, Trevor, who was 11 when his father died, will accept the medal for him in the ceremony.

There is a full day of hearings before numerous congressional committees. Cabinet members such as Secretary of State Pompeo and the Veterans Affairs Secretary will be testifying, along with the head of Customs and Border Protection.

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For President Trump and Vice President Pence and the strength of their relationship.
  • For the family of Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins and others who will be present for the awarding of the Medal of Honor.
  • For members of the president’s Cabinet and others who will be testifying before various congressional committees today.

House Fails to Override President’s Veto

Emergency wall-building declaration preserved

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives failed to override President Trump’s first veto as part of the battle over border security. The vote was 248-181 in favor, but it fell 38 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed. Because of its failure in the House, the Senate will not attempt its override, and the veto will stand.

The outcome of the vote now enables the president to move forward on an issue that was a hallmark of his 2016 presidential campaign. 

Despite the failure to override, President Trump may not be able to spend the money for barriers quickly because of lawsuits that could take years to resolve.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Axios
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For President Trump, Pentagon members and others who will shuffle funds to continue construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
  • For Congressional appropriations committees who are certain to vote against additional funding for barriers at the border.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

President Donald Trump will travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a campaign event at the Van Andel Arena. Security will be high, as local law enforcement said they are expecting large protests outside the venue. The president will share the accomplishments of the administration over the past two years as well as outline the vision for the future. He will look to raise support for the many goals and initiatives he is planning for the years ahead.

Negotiators on both sides of the U.S.-China trade talks are hoping to wrap up a deal prior to the 2019 G20 Summit that will be held in Osaka, Japan, in June.

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For President Trump as he travels to Grand Rapids.
  • That crowds, whether inside or outside the Grand Rapids arena, will remain orderly and law-abiding.
  • For the negotiating team representing the United States to be deliberate and wise in their tactics and discussions.

The President's Schedule

  • 11:45AM EDT The President receives his intelligence briefing
  • 2:45PM EDT The President meets with the Secretary of State
  • 7:00PM EDT The President delivers remarks at a Make America Great Again rally

FDA Wants Opioid Replacements

Seeks initiatives for drug industry

The outgoing commissioner of the Federal Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Thursday that drug companies should be encouraged to develop drugs for pain that could eventually allow older opioids to be restricted or come off the market altogether.

“Given the public health crisis we face and that American families are still being destroyed by the opioids epidemic, I believe that the FDA should treat opioids as a class differently from other drugs,” he said.

Even if the FDA advances such plans, they would take a long time to become reality. Gottlieb encouraged Congress to grant opioids that are proven safer a period of additional time to sell their investment free from competition to incentivize development of such drugs. One way to prove an opioid is better than older ones is to show it has abuse-deterrent properties, Gottlieb said.

The commissioner’s last day is April 5, making implementation of his vision less clear. Ned Sharpless, the director of the National Cancer Institute, will be Gottlieb’s successor.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For Congress to work together with the Federal Drug Administration in advancing new pain pills that will not promote addiction.
  • For Ned Sharpless as he assumes the role of FDA commissioner next week.

New Bill Could Make Puerto Rico a State

Could be 51st state by 2020

A bipartisan group of representatives, led by Representative Darren Soto of Florida, joined with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello on Thursday to present a bill that would admit the territory as a state within 90 days of passage.

Soto said the simplicity of the legislation makes it different from prior attempts at statehood.

“This bill is different in that it’s just a straight admissions bill. All other bills before it were either calling for an additional pie-slice or had multiple conditions, committees, and task forces that the status would have to jump through hoops on,” he said. “So this is the first bill that simply admits Puerto Rico. The first of its kind.”

The simplified statehood bill has to go through the Natural Resources Committee before it receives consideration from the full House. Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the chairman of that committee, has been cool to the idea of Puerto Rican statehood in the past, but, according to Soto, “he understands that this is a thing that needs to happen.”

Currently, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated U.S. territory, the same classification as Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Ricans have previously held a symbolic vote that approved statehood application.

Sources: The Hill, CNN
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For members of the House Natural Resources Committee as it gives first consideration to statehood for Puerto Rico.
  • About whether this is the time for Puerto Rico to achieve statehood, and whether other territories would follow.

Bipartisan Legislation Would Modernize IRS

Would improve taxpayer service, combat theft

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate tax-writing committees have presented legislation aimed at making improvements at the Internal Revenue Service.

The Taxpayer First Act of 2019 includes a myriad of provisions aimed at modernizing the agency’s operations. They include improving the IRS’s taxpayer services, strengthening taxpayer rights when enforcement actions are being pursued by the IRS, combatting tax-related identity theft, and expanding the service’s use of electric systems.

The bill, which is the result of years of work from the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, would also increase the penalty for failing to file a tax return, to offset the cost of other provisions in the legislation.

The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on the bill next week. It is also expected to receive favorable passage in the Senate.

Sources: The Hill, Accounting Today
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For members of both the House and Senate as they consider and vote on the Taxpayer First Act of 2019.
  • About the need for reforms within the Internal Revenue Service that will bring it more up to date.

Friday, March 29, 2019

President Donald Trump will be at his home in Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, having traveled there after the rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the morning, he will receive his daily briefing as prepared by the intelligence community. No public activities for the president are on his schedule.

U.S. and China trade negotiators began their new round of talks with dinner diplomacy in Beijing. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow reported that the talks could be extended for weeks, or even months, saying “This is not time-dependent. This is policy and enforcement-dependent.”

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For President Trump as he reflects on the campaign events in Grand Rapids.
  • For the president’s family to enjoy a time of rest and relaxation at their Mar-a-Lago residence.
  • For Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Trade Representative Lighthizer, Economic adviser Kudlow, and others who are on the U.S. negotiating team in China.

The President's Schedule

  • 1:00PM EDT The President visits Lake Okeechobee and Herbert Hoover Dike

Senate Rejects Green New Deal

No votes for the major environmental bill

On Tuesday, the Senate held a vote on the controversial Green New Deal. The measure needed 60 votes to advance but was ultimately shot down when every one of the 53 Senate Republican and four Democrats voted against it. The remaining Senate Democrats voted “present.” The Green New Deal is an environmental plan seeking to majorly overhaul U.S. spending and divert many of the funds towards an ecological policy that would slow down the growing threat of climate change.

The vote was put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in order to highlight the legislation put forward by freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey as representative of the Democratic Party ahead of the upcoming 2020 elections. "In recent months our nation has watched the Democratic Party take a sharp and abrupt left turn toward socialism," McConnell said earlier this month. "A flawed ideology that has been rejected time and again across the world is now driving the marquee policy proposals of the new House Democratic majority, and nothing encapsulates this as clearly as the huge, self-inflicted, national wound the Democrats are agitating for called the Green New Deal."

Sources: NPR, CNN, VOX
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For Congress to work together to address the issues created by climate change.
  • For Senate Majority Leader McConnell to effectively present meaningful legislation for the Senate to vote on.
  • For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put forward good environmental legislation to a vote.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Today, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are at their Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. They will spend the weekend there before returning to the White House Sunday evening. There are currently no public events on their schedule.

On Friday evening, President Trump announced that Linda McMahon would be leaving her cabinet-level position as the administrator of the Small Business Administration. During his address, the president praised her work and called her a “superstar”. He added, “Linda McMahon has done an incredible job… She’s been one of our all-time favorites… She has helped so many people in the world of small business.

Before an official nomination, the president will appoint an acting administrator to take on the responsibilities during the interim.

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For rest and rejuvenation for the president and first lady.
  • For God to guide the president as he selects a new acting administrator for the Small Business Administration.
  • For wisdom for the president as he nominates a new administrator.

The President's Schedule

  • 4:00PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY depart Mar-a-Lago en route to Palm Beach International Airport
  • 4:10PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Palm Beach International Airport
  • 4:20PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY depart Palm Beach, FL, en route to Washington, D.C.
  • 6:25PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Joint Base Andrews
  • 6:35PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY depart Joint Base Andrews en route to the White House
  • 6:45PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY arrive at the White House
  • 6:45PM EDT The President participates in a roundtable discussion with supporters

President Signs Permit to Jump Start XL Pipeline

May circumvent court orders halting development

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a presidential permit that authorizes energy company TransCanada Corp. to “construct, connect, operate, and maintain” pipeline facilities between the U.S. and Canada. The permit essentially jump starts construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline with a facility in Montana, a move seen as a way to get around previous court orders that halted development.

The permit also allows for the maintenance of a pipeline facility at Phillips County, Montana.

Last November, a federal judge invalidated a 2017 permit, in a case that is under appeal in the 9th Circuit.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby revoke that March 23, 2017 permit,” President Trump wrote in Friday’s order. The new permit could potentially circumvent the court’s order.

Sources: The Hill, Wall Street Journal
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • About the re-commencement of construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • About America’s dominance in world oil and gas production and exportation.

U.S. Missile Defense Agency Successfully Tests Missile Interceptors

Interceptors performed exactly as designed

Earlier this week, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency successfully launched two ground-based missile interceptors from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The goal of this test was to ensure that if multiple missiles were in the air, sensors for U.S. ground-based missile interceptors would be able to distinguish incoming missiles from other missiles and electronic clutter in the environment. The first interceptor launched successfully destroyed the mock adversary missile, as designed. The second interceptor was able to track the resulting debris and strike the next "most lethal object," as it was designed to do.

Director of the Missile Defense Agency Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves released a statement saying, "this was the first GBI salvo intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target, and it was a critical milestone. The system worked exactly as it was designed to do, and the results of this test provide evidence of the practicable use of the salvo doctrine within missile defense. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat."

Sources: CNN
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For Lt. Gen. Greaves as he oversees the Missile Defense Agency.
  • For President Donald Trump as he is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces.

$1 Billion Authorized to Begin New Wall Construction

Construction date not yet set

On Monday night, the Pentagon notified Congress that it has authorized the transfer of $1 billion in order to begin construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. This money will be used to build 57 miles of 18-foot-high fencing and improve roads along the southern border.

President Donald Trump's Administration states that it expects another $1.5 billion will be made available for wall construction in the future. This money will be taken out of counterdrug funds at the Department of Homeland Security. With initial funding set, the Army Corp of Engineers now has the green-light to begin planning. A date to begin construction has not been determined yet.

Sources: CNN
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For wisdom for President Trump as he works to secure the U.S.'s southern border.
  • For the Army Corp of Engineers as they begin planning their construction of a wall.

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