WASHINGTON — Fights over abortion and President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall have thrown Senate efforts to advance $1.4 trillion worth of agency spending bills into disarray, threatening one of Washington’s few bipartisan accomplishments this year.A government shutdown remains unlikely, but agencies face weeks or months on autopilot while frozen at this year’s levels if the logjam isn’t broken.At issue are 12 annual budget bills to fund the day-to-day operations of the government. The bills are needed to fill in the details of this summer’s budget and debt deal, which reversed cuts scheduled to slash the Pentagon and domestic programs and increased the government’s borrowing cap so it won’t default on its payments and Treasury notes.Sweeping votes on July’s budget blueprint were a kumbaya moment in Trump’s polarized capital. But the Senate Appropriations Committee, tasked with filling in the details, has been beset by infighting in advance of a bill drafting session on Thursday.Democrats complain that panel chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala. — following the lead of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — is shortchanging the popular health and education measure to fund Trump’s $5 billion request for his border wall. They are also furious about Trump’s moves to raid $3.6 billion in military base construction projects to pay for 11 additional border fence segments totalling 175 miles in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.“That’s created a real problem,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the most senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “To take money from substandard schools for children of military people … that’s left a very bad taste.”Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is poised with an amendment to an almost $700 billion Pentagon funding bill to block Trump’s unprecedented fiscal manoeuvrs, and he has several potential GOP allies on the committee.Durbin’s threat doesn’t seem to have Republicans on edge, but Republicans say that Democrats such as Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a savvy panel insider, are breaking summertime promises to avoid adding “poison pills” to the measures that could bog them down or attract Trump veto promises.In particular, Murray is pressing to overturn a Trump executive order that takes away federal family planning funds from organizations like Planned Parenthood that counsel women about their abortion options.The stakes were raised last month when Planned Parenthood announced it would stop accepting Title X federal family planning funds rather than comply with a Department of Health and Human Services edict to comply with the abortion counselling ban. Two Planned Parenthood clinics in Ohio closed this week.Murray’s amendment would likely pass the Appropriations panel, where two pro-abortion rights GOP women would likely side with her. Facing that prospect, Shelby dropped the health funding measure from the agenda, along with a foreign aid bill that also faced an abortion controversy.“His gag order changed Congress’ intent” to award family planning grants to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Murray said. “Title X has had bipartisan support forever.”The panel has a long history of smoothing over its differences on abortion in the interest of getting its legislation passed, however, and both sides want to press on and work out the challenges. House members like Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., are eager to start House-Senate conference committee talks aimed at legislation both chambers can pass, as is McConnell.“We’re hopefully going to get past this little rough patch and get back to the agreement we all signed onto,” McConnell said Wednesday.“We’ll get it done because there’s a desire to get it done,” Leahy said. “We know how to do it.”Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Latest issue of International Mining Project News available (May 8): With gold prices hovering around the $900 mark and copper prices being as volatile as ever we are still in uncertain economic times. Many analysts see the recent surge in copper prices representing ‘artificial’ Chinese demand; however this hasn’t stopped projects progressing. One big project is Inmet Mining’s Las Cruces project in Spain, which has recently resumed operations after final approval from the Andalucian Regional Ministry of Innovation, Science and Business. Commissioning of the process plant has been completed and with the resumption of mining in the pit, Inmet anticipates that it will produce its first copper cathode during the first week of June. Proven and Probable reserves are 17.6 Mt at an average copper grade of 6.2% and life-of-mine contained copper amounts to 1.1 Mt for a mine life of 15 years at an annual processing capacity of 1.3 Mt. Combining copper, gold and silver, Barrick Gold is proceeding with construction of its Pascua Lama project (Operation focus in IM’s June issue) on the borders of Argentina and Chile. After governmental discussions with both countries the company should ramp up construction by September. Located in the Frontera district, around 10 km from Barrick’s Veladero mine, the project is at an elevation of 3,800 to 5,200 m and has Proven and Probable reserves of 17.8 Moz of gold, 717.6 Moz of silver, and 649.5 Mlb of copper contained within the gold reserves. It also has an estimated mine life of about 20 years. Pascua-Lama’s pre-production construction estimate is $2.8-$3.0 billion, with expected average annual production of about 750,000-800,000 oz of gold and 35 Moz of silver in the first five years.Still with Barrick, it has poured the first gold at its Buzwagi mine in Tanzania. This year it is expected to produce some 200,000 oz of gold at total cash costs of $320-$335/oz. In production, the mine will be one of the country’s largest operations. Buzwaqui is the first of Barrick’s new generation mines to enter production. Cortez Hills in Nevada is expected to come into production in the first quarter of 2010 and Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic is targeted for the fourth quarter of 2011. Combined the three projects represent almost 2 Moz of production.In China, Tianshan Goldfields has the results of column leach tests for its 90% owned Gold Mountain project in northwest China. Test work completed by Chang Chun Gold Research has returned results of 63.22% gold recovery after 120 days leaching. Samples were made up of a blend of each of the Yelmand, Jinxi and Mavituobi deposits at the project. In the Province of Tete in Mozambique, Riversdale Mining and its partner Tata Steel have updated both resources and reserves at the Benga coal project. A coal resource of 4,000 Mt has been estimated with Measured and Indicated resources combined at 1,033.94 Mt. The company has also received approval from the Government of the Republic of Mozambique for the Mining Contract for Benga. The project will involve Riversdale developing a 20 Mt/y (run of mine) hard coking and thermal coal mine with an estimated capital investment of more than $800 million.This issue also features news from Indonesia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Ghana, Bolivia and many more countries. To receive the full 30+ page report, subscriptions to this service can be registered and paid for on-line (SUBSCRIBE TO IM PROJECT NEWS BUTTON), or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a free trial copy.