White House to have ‘mock press briefing’ for press corps kids on Thursday

The Trump administration is taking part in this year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, inviting members of the press corps to bring their children with them to the White House on Thursday.

Among the “fun activities” promised in a White House news release: a mock press briefing — but there were no details on whether or not Press Secretary Sean Spicer would field the questions.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: President Donald Trump in Palm Beach

President Trump’s administration has invited members of the White House press corps to bring their children to work with them on Thursday. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Journalists will be able to have their children between ages 5 and 13 with them from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the White House said. Members of the press corps who want to bring their children have to provide details including their child’s first name, date of birth, Social Security Number and place of residence.

According to an archived Obama administration webpage, this will be the twelfth year the White House has participated in the annual event. Last year, children with participated met the Obamas’ dogs, Bo and Sunny, and toured the presidential limousine, known as “The Beast.”

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Returning from recess, Murphy has to-do list — includes bashing Rubio

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

Congress returns from a two-month summer recess Tuesday and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy laid out his to-do list.

Among the items: Keep up the steady stream of criticism aimed at Republican rival Marco Rubio.

“This is probably Marco Rubio’s least favorite day of the year,” said the Jupiter Democrat, in his second term in the U.S. House. “He’s got to go back to the Senate — a place that he says he hates. A place where he doesn’t think he has enough power to solve problems.”

By contrast, Murphy said he is eager to move forward with the White House’s pitch to approve $1.9 billion in funding to fight the Zika virus, enact tougher gun restrictions, and steer more dollars toward easing the algae outbreak on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Of course, all of these major issues have languished since lawmakers broke camp in July. And few signs of developing agreement, it’s possible Republicans and Democrats continue their deadlock past the November elections.

Rubio’s side revived their criticism of Murphy for having voted against Zika funding measures in the House — where Republicans have put a number of contentious proposals on the table.

Rubio in May joined with Florida Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to introduce a $1.9 billion funding proposal that basically mirrored what the Obama administration sought. Rubio and several Florida Republicans also have urged their leadership to advance a deal to fight the outbreak.

But efforts have gone nowhere.

Olivia Perez-Cubas, a Rubio campaign spokeswoman, said Murphy is out to “exploit this public health and economic emergency.”

With another deadline looming, Florida Democrats urge Congress to act on Zika virus

The aedes aegypti mosquito, common in Florida, carries the Zika virus
The aedes aegypti mosquito, common in Florida, carries the Zika virus

With another congressional deadline looming, Florida Democrats joined Obama administration officials Thursday in urging swift action on funding to fight the Zika virus.

Florida reported 11 new cases Wednesday, its single largest daily number to date and bringing the state’s total to 263 cases. Included in the number — all considered travel-related — are 43 pregnant women.

Palm Beach County has reported 12 cases which, like all in Florida, are believed to involve people who contracted the virus outside the continental U.S.

The White House and the Republican-controlled Congress have been sparring for months over Zika funding. Obama sought $1.9 billion in February to fight the virus, but Congress was slow in taking up the measure and remain divided.

Senate Democrats blocked a $1.1 billion proposal last month after Republicans added so-called poison pill provisions aimed at limiting funding for Planned Parenthood and other women’s health clinics.

Now, Democrats fear Congress will head toward a seven-week recess on July 15 without resolving Zika funding, even as the threat of the mosquito-borne illness flourishes with summer.

“We know the risk is growing every day,” Deputy Homeland Security Adviser Amy Pope said in a conference call with reporters.

Florida Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urged the House to take up a Senate approach that steers $1.1 billion to the problem, without any controversial policy provisions.

“This is irresponsible partisan behavior,” Nelson said of the standoff.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, also said it would be a “colossal failure” if Congress adjourns without action.

“The folks I represent are very frustrated,” Castor said. “We had the first cases of Zika reported in Florida at the end of January. Many of us started calling for congressional hearings after that.”

While Zika causes a mild and brief, flu-like illness in most people, among pregnant women, it is strongly linked to fetal deaths and severe birth defects. Brazil, host to the summer Olympics next month, is the global epicenter of the outbreak.

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has been pushing Congress for action, last month agreed to spend $26.2 million in state funds toward mosquito abatement, training technicians, enhancing lab work and acquiring Zika prevention kits from the Centers for Disease Control.

He has mostly blamed the Obama administration for not sending federal dollars to Florida.