Alpine skiing: Veith wins first race since injury, Vonn pulls out

2017 12 17T104439Z 1 LYNXMPEDBG0E1 RTROPTP 0 ALPINE SKIING WOMEN 1 150x150 - Alpine skiing: Veith wins first race since injury, Vonn pulls out

Alpine skiing: Veith wins first race since injury, Vonn pulls out
Women's Alpine Skiing World Cup Super G
Alpine Skiing – Women’s Alpine Skiing World Cup Super G – Val d´Isere, France – December 16, 2017 Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. celebrates after winning the Women’s Super G REUTERS/Robert Pratta

December 17, 2017

VAL D’ISERE, France (Reuters) – Olympic champion Anna Veith won her first race since suffering a serious knee injury more than two years ago when she took the Super G at Val d’Isere on Sunday while American Lindsey Vonn withdrew due to a sore knee.

Austrian Veith, skiing second, charged down the course in one minute 5.77 seconds, a time that none of the following skiers was able to get near.

Veith’s last win was in the giant slalom at Meribel in March 2015, the year she won the overall World Cup title for the second time.

She missed the whole of the 2015-16 season after suffering a serious knee injury and only returned to racing one year ago.

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was second and Italian Sofia Goggia third.

“It’s really very emotional and difficult to describe,” Veith, close to tears, told Austrian broadcast ORF. “It’s something I dreamed about during the most difficult times.”

Vonn, who suffered a back injury which left her in enormous pain at St Moritz last week during another Super G race, said she wanted to concentrate her efforts on the Winter Olympics in Pyenongchang in February.

“Unfortunately I’m not racing today. Knee is a bit sore from yesterday so to be on the safe side I’m going to give my body some rest,” she said on Twitter.

“My focus is on the Olympics so no need to risk anything now. Still going home very happy after my win yesterday.”

Vonn’s win in Saturday’s Super G was her first since the downhill at Garmisch in January.

The finest woman skier of her generation, Vonn was downhill gold medalist at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 but missed the 2014 games in Sochi because of a knee injury.

The 33-year-old was also sidelined for 11 months after suffering a knee injury in Andorra in February, 2016 and broke her arm in training in Colorado the following November.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern,; editing by Ed Osmond)

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Are China’s cars finally going to make inroads in Western markets?

2017 12 15T010620Z 1 LYNXMPEDBE01Y RTROPTP 0 BELARUS BUSINESS 1 150x150 - Are China’s cars finally going to make inroads in Western markets?

Are China’s cars finally going to make inroads in Western markets?
A logo of Geely automobile company is seen on a car at the Belarusian-Chinese closed joint-stock company BelGee plant in Zhodino
A logo of Geely automobile company is seen on a car at the Belarusian-Chinese closed joint-stock company BelGee plant in Zhodino, Belarus November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

December 17, 2017

By Norihiko Shirouzu

BEIJING (Reuters) – After a decade of development, often through buying or benchmarking foreign technology and know-how, Chinese automakers are looking with greater ambition at selling their cars in major Western markets.

Improvements in car design, technology and marketing at firms including Geely <0175.HK>, GAC Motor and Great Wall Motor <601633.SS> have brought them a bigger share in their home market, the world’s largest, and give them a better chance of survival in competitive markets in Europe and the United States.

Once distant dreams of staking a claim in Western strongholds may now be edging nearer.

“We have in the Western world an outrageous arrogance. We think we’re ahead. It’s going to change,” says Alain Visser, Senior Vice President of Lynk & Co, a new brand set up by Geely.

“China is passing you at a speed that in our arrogance we don’t even see,” Visser told Reuters earlier this month.

Hangzhou-based Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and Lotus and makes London black cabs, has its sights set on selling cars in Europe in 2019 and the United States a year later. The Lynk & Co brand, set up in Sweden with Volvo, will spearhead its attack.

Geely plans only to sell ‘green’ cars – conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric models – in those markets, and would primarily sell through directly-owned stores and online rather than through traditional dealer franchises. It could also offer cars for rent via a subscription model similar to Netflix <NFLX.O> and Spotify.

GAC Motor, whose parent Guangzhou Automobile Group <601238.SS> partners Honda Motor <7267.T>, Toyota Motor <7203.T> and Fiat Chrysler <FCHA.MI> in China, may beat Geely to the U.S. market, eyeing entry by end-2019. But unlike Lynk & Co, GAC is more likely to sell through a traditional distribution network of franchised retail stores there.

It’s taken Chinese automakers years to get this far, and, to be sure, there will be significant road bumps.

“A key obstacle in markets like the United States is a consumer bias against Chinese-made goods,” said Jeff Cai, a Beijing-based senior director at JD Power & Associates. “Our research found most U.S. consumers think China is a third-world country that builds low-quality products.”

There’s also the thorny issue of China’s trade surplus with the United States – an imbalance high on U.S. President Donald Trump’s radar. Cars shipped in from China would likely increase that surplus.

SELLING DIRECT, ONLINE

Geely’s Lynk & Co aims to open its own flagship store in Berlin in the second half of 2019, and a similar outlet in San Francisco in 2020.

In some U.S. states, which don’t allow direct selling, Lynk & Co plans a subscription-based sales model, renting cars to consumers on contracts as short as a month. Those deals will include insurance, warranty and other benefits.

Visser says Lynk wants to test this unconventional retail model because it reckons around a quarter of revenue is lost through the traditional distribution business in dealer margins and discounting. He expects to recoup more than half those ‘losses’ by selling direct.

Some of those savings will be passed on to customers by selling Lynk & Co cars at a more affordable price, Visser said, adding Lynk & Co aims to sell 250,000 vehicles a year across Europe and the United States – though he gave no firm timescale for that.

In the United States, selling direct could put Lynk & Co on a collision course with the politically powerful National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), the lobby group for franchise dealer operators.

While Visser says NADA has “unbelievable power”, he believes dealers will eventually come around to Lynk & Co’s retail model as it would likely be franchise dealers who get to service Lynk & Co cars, carrying out repairs and regular maintenance – and that’s where dealers make most money.

NO TRUMPCHI FOR U.S.

For its part, GAC Motor is looking at the possibility of building out its overseas presence from the U.S. northeast, two people close to the company said.

That region, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New York, is seen as being more open to foreign cars and to the sport-utility vehicles (SUV) that GAC Motor plans to sell, they said.

The company said it has not yet decided a U.S. entry point, but would more likely opt to build a sales network with franchise dealers or join an existing dealer group.

GAC Motor – which says it has developed rather than acquired its technologies – said it was conducting market research to determine the brand’s positioning and identify products for its U.S. business.

Its first U.S. offering is likely to be an SUV sold in China as the Trumpchi GS8. Given the political sensitivities, the model will be renamed for the U.S. market.

“We respect culture in the U.S. and understand there’s no precedence to use the current president’s name as a brand name,” the company said through a spokeswoman.

(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Joe White and Ian Geoghegan)

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Report: NBC Paid Off Chris Matthews Accuser Over Sexual Harassment Claims

Chris Matthews on Trump Watch MSNBC 150x150 - Report: NBC Paid Off Chris Matthews Accuser Over Sexual Harassment Claims

Report: NBC Paid Off Chris Matthews Accuser Over Sexual Harassment Claims

The television network NBC paid off a woman who accused host Chris Matthews of sexual harassment back in 1999, the Daily Caller has revealed.

According to internal sources, the network paid $40,000 to an assistant producer working on Matthews’ nightly political talk show, Hardball with Chris Mathews, although an NBC spokesperson later denied this and said she was paid a considerably smaller severance package instead.

The woman reportedly complained to company executives after Matthews made a series of “inappropriate comments and jokes about her while in the company of others.”

A network spokesperson confirmed that the situation was formally reviewed at the time and Matthews was given a warning, after executives determined that the comments were “inappropriate and juvenile” but did not have sexual intent.

It is not clear whether Matthews’ accuser left the company as a result of the allegations, although she has consequently gone on to work in a number of high-profile media positions.

Matthews, 71, is the latest high-profile figure at the NBC network to be implicated in the ongoing sexual harassment scandal that has engulfed major figures in politics, the media, and Hollywood.

Last month, NBC fired longtime anchor Matt Lauer of the Today Show over allegations of sexual misconduct that included claims he assaulted a female staffer and harassed a number of interns, script-runners, and bookers.

In October, the network also cut ties with special contributor Mark Halperin over a slew of allegations of sexual assault and harassment, while the network’s senior vice president Matt Zimmerman was also released for failing to report his sexual relationship with female employees.

Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, on Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at bkew@breitbart.com.

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McGregor plans return to MMA for next fight

2017 12 17T003017Z 1 LYNXMPEDBG003 RTROPTP 0 SPORT 1 150x150 - McGregor plans return to MMA for next fight

McGregor plans return to MMA for next fight
MMA: UFC 202-Diaz vs McGregor 2
Aug 20, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Nate Diaz ()red gloves) during UFC 202 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

December 17, 2017

The Sports Xchange) – Forget about Conor McGregor stepping back into the boxing ring anytime soon. It appears that the 29-year-old will head back to fight in the octagon, not the squared circle.

After a Friday night on the town in New York, TMZ caught up with McGregor who said, “I think a true fight is what I want to do next. A real fight … MMA next.”

There had been talk of a McGregor-Manny Pacquiao fight, but that talk quickly ended when UFC president Dana White threatened to sue Pacquiao, according to ESPN. McGregor remains under contract with the UFC

The last time McGregor fought he stepped into the ring at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. He suffered a TKO loss on that August night, but many thought he performed admirably and might stay in boxing for more lucrative contracts.

The fight against Mayweather did 4.3 million buys, making it the second biggest fight in history.

McGregor scoffed at the idea of fighting in the WWE, using an expletive to say, no, he wasn’t going to follow in Ronda Rousey’s footsteps.

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Chelsea and Arsenal earn narrow wins, Palace on the rise

2017 12 16T182717Z 1 LYNXMPEDBF0FH RTROPTP 0 SOCCER ENGLAND CHE SOU 1 150x150 - Chelsea and Arsenal earn narrow wins, Palace on the rise

Chelsea and Arsenal earn narrow wins, Palace on the rise
Premier League - Chelsea vs Southampton
Soccer Football – Premier League – Chelsea vs Southampton – Stamford Bridge, London, Britain – December 16, 2017 Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas down on the pitch REUTERS/Toby Melville

December 16, 2017

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) – Champions Chelsea claimed an eighth win in their last 10 Premier League games at home to Southampton and Arsenal edged past Newcastle United as the London clubs maintained their distant pursuit of leaders Manchester City on Saturday.

Marcos Alonso’s long-range free kick just before halftime earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge to put Antonio Conte’s side level in second place with Manchester United on 38 points from 18 games, 11 behind City who were hosting Tottenham Hotspur in the late kickoff.

United are in action at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

After three games without a win Arsenal moved back into the top four thanks to Mesut Ozil’s superb volleyed winner in the first half at the Emirates.

They have 33 points, one more than fifth-placed Burnley who were held to a 0-0 draw away at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Glenn Murray missed a penalty for Brighton who are without a win in seven matches.

Christian Benteke put himself back in Crystal Palace’s good book as he scored Palace’s first away goal of the season with his first goal of the campaign — Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako were also on target in a 3-0 victory for Roy Hodgson’s side.

Benteke broke from team orders and took, and missed, a stoppage-time penalty against Bournemouth last weekend to deny his side a precious victory, but made amends after 18 minutes as Palace rose to 14th spot.

Leicester, who had won four consecutive games, had Wilfred Ndidi sent off after he was booked for simulation, his second yellow card of the game.

West Ham United also emerged from the bottom three with a 3-0 victory at Stoke City — Marco Arnautovic on target for the Hammers against the club he left in the close season.

Huddersfield Town also ended a long scoring drought on the road as they thumped stumbling Watford 4-1.

Aaron Mooy was on target twice for the visitors who had Jonathan Hogg dismissed in the second half for a second booking. Troy Deeney saw red for Watford in the first half.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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Mueller Claus is Coming to Town

santa mueller ben garrison 150x150 - Mueller Claus is Coming to Town

Mueller Claus is Coming to Town


In keeping with the holiday season, I drew a variation of an enduring symbol—Santa Claus.

Like jolly old St. Nick, Mueller and his investigation into non-existent Trump wrongdoings never seems to go away. Hillary and Obama seem keen on giving us gifts of false realities. We are witnessing the continued political weaponization of the FBI.

Mueller, approved by the Deep Staters Bush and Obama, has already done a lot to weaken our country.

Along with FBI head John Brennan, Mueller was ordered to stop equating Islamic terrorists with Islam itself, thus weakening the FBI’s ability to target terrorism. Political correctness was paramount under Obama and reality was damned.

Now Mueller is back as a special prosecutor looking at the presidential election supposedly getting ‘hacked’ by Russia, which is a lie used by Hillary to excuse her monumental loss. Mueller’s assignment from Hillary and the Deep State Swamp? Dig up as much dirt as possible on Trump in order to get him impeached.

James Comey had earlier helped the Clintons escape a noose from their Whitewater scandal. He was rewarded with a cushy job with Lockheed Martin that paid him many millions of dollars. As the FBI director under Obama, he again saved the Clintons when he refused to recommend Hillary for prosecution. He overlooked her obvious obstruction of justice when she destroyed cell phones and bleach-bit her server. He said there was no ‘intent.’ It was not his call.

Then there is the improbably named Peter Strzok. (pronounced stroke?) He was fired from Mueller’s investigation due to his stridently anti-Trump text messages to his mistress. Do these FBI men not know they leave digital footprints or are they that contemptuous of their own process? Regardless, his behavior is again indicative of the growing bias and partisanship in the FBI. They’re going after Trump without one iota of evidence while they’ve done their best to exonerate Hillary–despite her spate of criminal acts that would send lesser mortals to prison.

FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe enabled Strzok’s behavior. He will answer to a congressional committee next week. Maybe he’ll explain the FBI’s ‘anti-Trump insurance policy’ that was discussed recklessly by Strzok.

Mueller’s partisan anti-Trump fishing expedition could easily drag on for another Christmas and as usual, the taxpayers are on the hook. Meanwhile, the biggest criminal fish, Hillary, never seems to be put on ice.

Instead of investigating Trump, let’s investigate the corruption of the FBI itself.

–Ben Garrison

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Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma in tight race to lead South Africa’s ruling ANC

2017 12 16T010714Z 1 LYNXMPEDBF016 RTROPTP 0 SAFRICA POLITICS ANC 1 150x150 - Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma in tight race to lead South Africa’s ruling ANC

Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma in tight race to lead South Africa’s ruling ANC
FILE PHOTO: South Africa's Deputy President Ramaphosa gestures at an election rally of the ruling African National Congress in Port Elizabeth
FILE PHOTO: South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa gestures at an election rally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

December 16, 2017

By Alexander Winning and James Macharia

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s only ruler since the end of apartheid, votes this weekend in a race too close to call to replace Jacob Zuma as party leader with the winner also likely to become the next president.

The election is perhaps the most pivotal moment for the ANC in its 23 years of power. Scandal and corruption allegations have tainted Zuma’s presidency and the party that launched black majority rule under Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela is now deeply divided, its image tarnished at home and abroad.

The ANC will announce Zuma’s successor on Sunday, concluding a bruising leadership battle that threatens to splinter the 105-year-old liberation movement.

The race has been dominated by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, generally favoured by financial markets, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, an ex-cabinet minister, chairwoman of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife.

Zuma, whose term as head of state expires in 2019, is backing Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

South Africa’s rand firmed more than 2 percent after courts ruled senior officials in two provinces seen as supporting Dlamini-Zuma had been illegally elected and could not attend the conference.

Ramaphosa won a majority of the nominations to become leader of the party, but delegates at the Dec. 16-20 conference in Johannesburg are not bound to vote for the candidate their ANC branch nominated, meaning it is unclear if he will actually win.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee, a decision-making group of senior keaders, met before the conference began and decided that barred delegates could not vote at the conference.

“We don’t want to contaminate the conference… They will not vote on any matter,” ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told reporters.

ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine, who backs Dlamini-Zuma, said 122 delegates would be prevented from voting at the conference following the ruling by the courts. “That is not significant,” Maine told Reuters.

At the meeting venue, delegates in T-shirts in the gold and green colors of the ANC sang party songs and danced, with many waving party flags while women rent the air with ululations.

TIGHT CONTEST

To his supporters, Ramaphosa’s business success makes him well-suited to the task of turning around an economy grappling with 28 percent unemployment and credit rating downgrades.

“Early signs of a win for Cyril Ramaphosa, the more investor-friendly option, have provided support for the rand,” John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics, said.

“But while Mr. Ramaphosa is popular among party members, the result will be decided by political insiders, who may opt for his leftist opponent, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.”

Ramaphosa has recently stepped up criticism of Zuma’s scandal-plagued government, while Dlamini-Zuma has said her priority is to improve prospects for the black majority.

He is expected to be backed by ANC veterans, labor unions and civil society organizations. In contrast, Dlamini-Zuma is seen as a fierce campaigner against racial inequality whose hostility to big business has rattled investors in South Africa.

“She has not made corruption the only pillar of her campaign, because the most critical issue in South Africa is this huge inequality,” said Carl Niehaus, a key member of Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign.

Growth in Africa’s most industrialized economy has been lackluster for the last six years, and the jobless rate is near record levels. Analysts say the ANC leadership battle has made it hard to reform the economy and improve social services.

“The outcome is difficult to predict. This creates considerable uncertainty that is reflected in significantly increased volatility for the rand,” Elisabeth Andreae, analyst at Commerzbank, said in a note.

ZUMA SCANDALS

In a move likely to please the ANC rank and file, Zuma announced hours before the conference kicked off that South Africa would raise subsidies to universities to 1 percent of GDP over the next five years from nearly 0.7 percent at present.

Speaking at a breakfast of businessmen and politicians at the venue of the ANC conference, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said South Africa’s government would take “necessary tough decisions” to stabilize public debt and grow the economy.

On Friday evening, Zuma cracked jokes at an ANC dinner and said that leading the party had “been a worthwhile experience”, while adding he looked forward to stepping down. He is expected to make a speech to launch the conference.

The 75-year-old has denied numerous corruption accusations since taking office in 2009 and has survived several no-confidence votes in parliament.

Zuma has faced allegations of undue influence in making cabinet appointments and awarding state tenders to his friends, the Gupta family. Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

“People can’t wait to see his back,” political analyst Prince Mashele said in a newspaper opinion piece.

(Additional reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Writing by James Macharia; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Final Republican tax bill slashes U.S. corporate rate, voting next week

2017 12 15T211410Z 1 LYNXMPEDBE1MK RTROPTP 0 STORM MARIA PUERTORICO 1 150x150 - Final Republican tax bill slashes U.S. corporate rate, voting next week

Final Republican tax bill slashes U.S. corporate rate, voting next week
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a press conference about the ongoing relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria at the Capitol Building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a press conference at the Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

December 16, 2017

By Amanda Becker and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional Republicans on Friday unveiled the final version of their dramatic U.S. tax overhaul – debt-financed cuts for businesses, the wealthy and some middle-class Americans – and picked up crucial support from two wavering senators ahead of planned votes by lawmakers early next week.

Passage of the biggest U.S. tax rewrite since 1986 would provide Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump their first major legislative victory since he took office in January. Prospects for approval soared after Republican senators Marco Rubio and Bob Corker pledged support.

But three Republican senators, enough to defeat the measure in a Senate that the party controls with a slim 52-48 majority, remained uncommitted: Susan Collins, Jeff Flake and Mike Lee.

The final version hammered out between Senate and House of Representatives Republicans after each chamber previously passed competing versions contained no surprises.

It would cut the corporate income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, according to a summary distributed to reporters by congressional tax writers. Corporate tax lobbyists have been seeking a tax cut of this magnitude for many years.

The bill, according to the summary, would create a 20-percent business income tax deduction for owners of “pass-through” businesses, such as partnerships and sole proprietorships; allow for immediate write-off by corporations of new equipment costs; and eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax.

If passed by Congress, the changes would be in effect for 2018 taxes, with tax returns for 2017 unaffected.

Democrats have been unified against the measure, calling it a giveaway to corporations and the rich that would drive up the federal deficit.

Bernie Sanders, a leading liberal voice in the Senate who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year, called the bill “a moral and economic obscenity.”

“It is a gift to wealthy Republican campaign contributors and an insult to the working families of our country,” Sanders said.

For months, Trump has touted the bill as a middle-class tax cut. Studies from independent analysts and non-partisan congressional researchers have projected that corporations and the rich would gain disproportionately.

The House was expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday. Republicans have a large majority there, and passage was expected despite Democratic opposition. The bill would then go to the Senate. Republicans can afford to lose only two votes from within their own ranks and still win Senate passage.

TOP RATE CUT

The Republican bill would maintain the existing seven individual and family income tax brackets with rates of 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 37 percent. That top rate, for the highest-earning Americans, would be cut from today’s 39.6 percent.

The tax bill was expected to add at least $1 trillion to the $20 trillion U.S. national debt over 10 years, making it an unusual example of deficit spending on stimulative tax cuts at a time when the economy is already expanding.

Republicans have said the tax cuts are needed because the economy is not expanding quickly enough. “Now the American people are closer to a plan that will deliver higher wages, lower taxes, a simpler system, and a stronger American economy,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said.

Since they swept to power in Washington in January, Trump and the Republicans have not managed to pass any major legislation, in particular failing on a healthcare overhaul, and have lost hard-fought elections in Alabama and Virginia, while Trump’s public approval ratings are low.

Ramming the tax package through Congress would represent their first significant legislative achievement and fulfill of tax overhaul promises Trump made to voters last year.

Trump wants a bill on his desk before the Dec. 25 Christmas holiday so he can sign it into law and finish 2017 with at least one big win in Congress before the 2018 mid-term election campaigns, when Republicans will have to defend their Senate and House of Representatives majorities.

Stock markets have been rallying for months in anticipation of sharply lower tax rates for corporations, wealthy financiers and business owners, all of which the bill would deliver.

Wall Street’s three major stock indexes closed at record highs on Friday, driven by corporate tax rates that looked likely to pass.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 0.58 percent to 24,651.74, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 0.90 percent to 2,675.81 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> rose 1.17 percent, to 6,936.58.

LATE CHANGES

As the tax package evolved, it tilted increasingly toward benefiting businesses and the wealthy. Provisions for offsetting the revenue costs of last-minute changes were troublesome for some lawmakers.

Rubio said he would support the bill after its approach to the child tax credit was changed. The bill doubles the credit, meant to help reduce the costs of raising kids, to $2,000 per dependent child under the age of 17, with a refundable portion of $1,400. That refundable portion was raised from $1,100 at the last minute to win Rubio’s backing.

Lee called the change to the child credit “a big win” but stopped short of endorsing the bill until he saw the details.

Corker, a fiscal hawk who opposed an earlier bill that passed the Senate because of its deficit impact, said the final measure was “far from perfect” but he would support it, calling it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to help U.S. businesses.

Collins has remained non-committal, in part out of concern about a provision that would repeal the fine imposed under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, on Americans who do not obtain health insurance.

Flake has said he needs to see all the details before supporting the measure.

The Senate vote outlook has been muddled by Republican Senator John McCain’s hospitalization for treatment for side effects of cancer therapy. His office said he “looks forward to returning to work as soon as possible.”

Vice President Mike Pence has delayed a trip to the Middle East in case his vote is needed to break a Senate tie.

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice and David Morgan; Sinead Carew in New York; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham)

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