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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 13, 2019

President Donald Trump is scheduled to receive a briefing on border security and drug trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border. The briefing will take place in the Roosevelt Room of the White House and comes only two days after the president presented his 2020 budget and requested additional funding for border barrier construction.

Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Jim Carroll said following the release of the president’s proposed budget, “Every day, American lives are being lost to an addiction crisis that touches every corner of our country. To meet this challenge head on, the Trump Administration is taking a whole-of-government approach that allocates more resources than at any point in history. The FY 2020 budget request strengthens our continued commitment to reversing the effects of the opioid crisis and making our communities safer, healthier places to live for the next generation.”

In the afternoon, the president will meet with members of the Senate to discuss issues relating to trade. With U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer stating, “Our hope is that we are in the final weeks,” Senators will be looking for ways to work with the president to improve the nation’s trade relationships around the world.

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For wisdom for the president as he makes decisions regarding the budget and plans for the nation’s future.
  • For guidance as he evaluates ways to address border security and drug trafficking concerns.
  • For God to use the meeting between the president and senators today to bring about His will in the nation.

The President's Schedule

  • 11:30AM EDT The President receives his intelligence briefing
  • 1:45PM EDT The President receives a briefing on drug trafficking on the Southern Border
  • 3:00PM EDT The President meets with Republican Members of the Senate on Trade
  • 5:00PM EDT The President participates in a photo opportunity with the 2019 Spring White House Internship Class

International U.S. Immigration Offices to Close

Part of consolidation measure with DHS and embassies

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will close all 21 international offices, according to an announcement by Director L. Francis Cisna in an email to agency staffers on Tuesday. The move is intended to consolidate services from the Department of Homeland Security into U.S. embassies and stateside offices.

“I believe by doing so, we will better leverage our funds to address backlogs in the United States also leveraging existing Department of State resources at a post,” Cisna wrote. “Change can be difficult and can cause consternation. I want to assure you we work to make this as smooth a transition as possible for each of our USCIS staff, while ensuring that those utilizing our services may continue to do so and our agency operations continue undisrupted.”

Sources: The Hill, New York Times
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For the approximately 70 employees of the agency’s international offices as they face relocation.
  • About cost-cutting measures intended to streamline immigration services.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

President Donald Trump will be looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day with an early celebration as he meets with the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. He will participate in the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the Capitol and later will participate in the Shamrock Bowl presentation by Ireland’s Prime Minister in the East Room of the White House.

Second Lady Karen Pence is in the United Arab Emirates for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics.

Congress will be hearing from Cabinet members today as the House Committee on Oversight and Reform receives testimony from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Senate Budget Committee hears testimony from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Senate Armed Services Committee hears from the Acting Defense Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Senate Finance Committee receives testimony from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For President Trump and his day of activities with the Prime Minister of Ireland.
  • For Second Lady Karen Pence as she represents America at the opening of the Special Olympics in the UAE.
  • For the many members of the president’s Cabinet giving testimony on Capitol Hill today.

The President's Schedule

  • 10:45AM EDT The President participates in the arrival of the Prime Minister of Ireland
  • 10:50AM EDT The President meets with the Prime Minister of Ireland
  • 11:05AM EDT The President participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Ireland
  • 11:35AM EDT The President participates in the departure of the Prime Minister of Ireland
  • 12:00PM EDT The President participates in the Friends of Ireland Luncheon
  • 5:45PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY participate in the arrival of the Prime Minister of Ireland
  • 6:00PM EDT The President and THE FIRST LADY participate in the Shamrock Bowl Presentation by the Prime Minister of Ireland

U.S. Expands Program Requiring Asylum Seekers to Wait in Mexico

Program seeks to stop practice of allowing migrants to remain in the U.S.

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would be expanding its program that requires those who are seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their cases are being processed. Currently, 240 migrants have been returned to Mexico under the program. The program has also been expanded to the Calexico port of entry in addition to the San Ysidro port.

Typically, Asylum-seeking families had been released from U.S. custody and allowed to stay with friends and family while their cases were going through court processes. The Trump administration has been critical of this method as it could allow undocumented migrants to illegally remain in the country. Those who will be returned to Mexico are single adults, but the White House is in talks with Mexico about returning families as well.

Sources: AP, CBS, FOX
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For DHS to work hard to care for the people they encounter at the border. 
  • For President Trump to have wisdom on how best to set foreign policy.

Trump Grounds Planes for Safety Concerns

All Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 Grounded within U.S.

Out of an abundance of caution to provide the best public safety, all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 airplanes have been grounded in the United States. President Trump said, "the safety of the American people, and all people, is our paramount concern. He spoke with Boeing's CEO earlier today who agreed to temporarily suspend the operations of their entire global fleet of 371 and 737 aircraft.

Several federal agencies will be supporting the FAA's investigation.

This action follows a fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday and new pilot feedback of the aircraft being brought to light.

Sources: FAA, CNBC, FoxNews
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For members of the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, and National Transportation Safety Board as they work together ensure the safety of the planes for the public use.
  • For President Trump and his staff as they support the federal agencies looking into the planes.
  • For safety for pilots and passengers on flights that have not been grounded yet, and for those whose travel has been interrupted.
  • For the mechanics and workers who service and work to care for the planes.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

President Donald Trump is remaining in residence at the White House for the weekend. There are no public events on his schedule for Saturday.

While negotiations continue with China over trade policies, the National People’s Congress in Beijing ended Friday with a ceremonial endorsement of a law that addresses specific issues in the foreign business community. The largely symbolic rules prohibit the forced transfer of technology from foreign-invested businesses in China, a step toward protection of intellectual property rights, among other things. Analysts are saying that the law is not likely to be strong enough to appease the demands of the United States in the ongoing trade negotiations.

Two weeks of U.S.-Taliban talks ended without a breakthrough, although two American officials said they were close to a final agreement on ending the long war in Afghanistan. The Taliban have expressed a willingness to cut all ties with terrorist groups and work to prevent future attacks from Afghanistan. A detailed plan for the withdrawal of American troops is still under consideration. America’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad,said, “My time there was well spent.”

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For rest for President Trump as he spends the weekend at the White House.
  • For the president’s negotiating team that has been working on a trade deal with China.
  • About the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and efforts being undertaken toward ending the war.

President Trump Issues First Veto

Called Congressional resolution “reckless” and “dangerous”

On Friday, President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency, rejecting a resolution that had received bipartisan support intended to nullify his declaration of a national emergency to pay for a wall at the southern border.

He was flanked by law enforcement and “angel” family members whose loved ones were killed by illegal immigrants.

“Today, I am vetoing this resolution,” he said. “Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution, and I have the duty to veto it.” He called the resolution “reckless” and “dangerous” and characterized the vote by Congress as “against reality.”

It is unlikely Congress will have the two-thirds majority vote in each chamber to override the president’s veto.

Sources: Associated Press, CNBC
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For wisdom for President Trump as he makes decisions that impact border security and federal funding.
  • For law enforcement, border patrol, members of the military and others who continue to secure America’s southern border.

President Condemns New Zealand Mosque Shooting

U.S. stands in solidarity with New Zealand

President Trump and the White House condemned the terrorist attacks at two mosques in New Zealand, and said the U.S. will extend any support necessary. He indicated he would be speaking with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Aldan.

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the mosques,” the president said in a tweet. “49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sent out a separate statement that said, “We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.”

Sources: USA Today, CBS News
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For the people of New Zealand who are reeling from the vicious and hateful attacks on the mosques in Christ Church.
  • That Christians would be a source of love and kindness for the people individually affected by the terror attack.

Monday, March 18, 2019

President Donald Trump will be meeting with Vice President Mike Pence for a lunch meeting before he receives his daily briefing as prepared by his intelligence community. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to leave on his Middle East tour, the president and vice president will likely discuss the nation’s agenda and goals for the upcoming trip.

This afternoon, the president and First Lady Melania Trump are hosting an event at the White House celebrating Greek Independence Day. The day honors the men and women who fought for Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. The White House hosts many prominent Greek Americans. Last year the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America stood with the president during his speech and the Archbishop is expected to attend again today.

AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For guidance for the president and vice president as they meet today.
  • For God to grant them wisdom as they plan and make decisions regarding the nation’s future.
  • For the president as he speaks today, that God would use the president’s words for His purposes.

The President's Schedule

  • 11:30AM EDT The President receives a briefing on the Economic Report of the President
  • 12:30PM EDT The President has lunch with the Vice President
  • 1:45PM EDT The President receives his intelligence briefing
  • 5:45PM EDT The President attends the Greek Independence Day Celebration

Cuts to Fund Border Wall Undetermined

Mulvaney says “it could be a while”

On a Sunday morning talk show, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said “it could be a while” before lawmakers receive a final list of the programs that will be losing funding in order to finance the security wall on the southern border. 

“I know the universe of things that might be delayed or reduced or cut in a very extreme circumstance that could be used to fund the wall,” he said, but gave no indication if cuts have already been made or a list is already prepared.

He said that programs scheduled to begin in 2019 would not be affected by the president’s declaration.

“There’s no list of projects that are absolutely going to not be funded so that the wall can be,” he said. He added, “Congress will pass another appropriation this year, next year, so that ultimately more of the programs would be impacted.”  He said that some of the cuts might not be popular.

Sources: CBS News, The Hill
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For President Trump, the Office of Management and Budget, the Pentagon leaders, and others who are determining the projects that will be affected by the president’s border wall declaration.
  • About the growing migrant situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Transportation Department Scrutinizing Boeing 737 MAX

Grand jury, federal prosecutors, also seek documents

The development of Boeing aircraft and FAA approval are under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The inquiry was launched after a new Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea in October, with all 189 people aboard perishing. The crash of a second Boeing 737 MAX 8 belonging to Ethiopian Airlines just five months later that killed 157 people has accelerated the department’s investigation.

A federal grand jury in Washington has also issued a broad subpoena of at least one person involved in the development of the Boeing MAX series aircraft. The subpoena, that involves a prosecutor from the Justice Department, is seeking relevant documents, including emails and other messages.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, NBC News
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • That government agencies, working together with Boeing, will be able to conclusively determine what may be behind the aircraft crashes, and work toward the appropriate fix.
  • For American passengers who had flights booked on U.S. carriers that fly the Boeing 737 MAX 8 as their schedules must be shuffled creating inconveniences while those aircraft are grounded.

White House Wants Limits on Student Loan Borrowing

Part of amending Higher Education Act

On Monday, the Trump Administration proposed setting limits on federal student-loan  borrowing programs.

White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump said, “We need to modernize our higher education system to make it affordable and more outcome directed so that all Americans, young and old, can learn the skills they need to secure and retain good-paying jobs.”

A number of proposals would change the borrowing and loan repayment process. The administration is asking Congress to simplify loan repayment programs, in part by considering five income-driven plans that would cap monthly repayments at 12.5 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income. Other proposals include greater access to Pell grants and reforming the federal work-study program.

“We think these are absolutely critical reforms and really the most comprehensive approach to higher ed reform in over a decade,” Ms. Trump told reporters. “So we’re very excited to work with members of both sides of the aisle to advance these and other important education initiatives.”

Sources: The Hill, ABC News
AS THE LORD LEADS, PRAY WITH US:
  • For senior adviser Ivanka Trump and the work she is doing on issues involving the American worker, career development and education.
  • For Congress as they consider the reforms and initiatives being suggested by the Trump Administration.

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