On Friday morning, the House narrowly approved a bipartisan two-year budget deal, 240-186, with Democratic votes needed to overcome a revolt by fiscal conservatives in the majority Republican caucus. The Senate passed the bill earlier Friday morning, 71-28, but not before the government shut down at midnight. Once President Trump signs the bill, the short-lived and unexpected shutdown will be over. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proudly took the blame for this shutdown, throwing up procedural hurdles on Thursday night to protest the legislation's surge in deficit spending — the bill adds roughly $320 billion to the federal deficit.
The legislation raises budget caps on military and domestic spending, adds $90 billion for hurricane and wildfire recovery, extends $17 billion in business tax breaks, authorizes infrastructure and opioid-fighting spending, and renews several large health-care programs. It does not include protections for DREAMers, or young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, as House Democrats had hoped. The legislation only funds the government until March 23, at which point Congress will have to pass what lawmakers hope is the final spending bill of fiscal 2018. Peter Weber
After meeting some victims of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Friday, President Trump has passed the rest of President's Day weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort. "He spent much of the time watching cable news, venting to friends about the Russia investigation, and complaining that it has been driving so much press coverage," The Washington Post reports, citing people who spoke with the president. Trump "also surveyed Mar-a-Lago Club members about whether he ought to champion gun control measures in the wake of last week's school massacre in nearby Parkland, telling them that he was closely monitoring the media appearances by some of the surviving students."
With Trump at Mar-a-Lago were his sons Eric and Don Jr., Geraldo Rivera, and first lady Melania Trump, who "did not join her husband in the dining room" Saturday night, the Post reports. Starting Saturday night, Trump started tweeting angrily about the FBI, his national security adviser, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.), and Oprah Winfrey. Trump met Sunday with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
He did not golf on Saturday and Sunday, out of deference to the Parkland shooting — "his predecessor had been criticized for golfing too soon after tragic events," The New York Times notes — but he visited his golf club Sunday night, his motorcade passing a "gentlemen's club" advertising purported onetime paramour Stormy Daniels' Make America Horny Again appearance. Trump and the first lady return to the White House on Monday night. Peter Weber
The Disney-Marvel movie Black Panther smashed box office records over the weekend, instantly becoming the top-grossing film in history by a black director with global ticket sales estimated to reach $387 million by Monday after its debut weekend. Disney said the film brought in about $218 million in North America between Friday and Monday, with some theaters adding showings to meet demand. Analysts had projected an opening weekend take of $165 million in North America. The actual numbers were at a level previously unheard of for a February release, outside of the summer and holiday seasons usually reserved for the biggest blockbusters. The previous record for a February release was Deadpool's $159 million over Presidents' Day weekend in 2016. Harold Maass
Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the PBS show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and PBS and the U.S. are gearing up to celebrate the legacy of Fred Rogers, its creator and star. Next week, PBS will pair thematically similar episodes of Mister Rogers and its 2012 spinoff, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and on March 6, PBS will broadcast the star-filled retrospective Mister Rogers: It's You I Like. A Fred Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks is in the works, and the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? is coming to theaters after its well-received debut at Sundance. The U.S. Postal Service is rolling out a Forever stamp featuring Rogers and his puppet King Friday XIII on March 23.
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood debuted on Feb. 19, 1968, and officially ended its 31-year run (it was on hiatus from 1976 to 1979) on Aug. 31, 2001. Rogers died of stomach cancer at age 74 in 2003. "Mister Rogers is producing these programs bookended between the beginning of 1968 ... and just before the Sept. 11 attacks," says Robert Thompson at Syracuse University. "He took American childhood — and I think Americans in general — through some very turbulent and trying times." One Rogers quote in particular continues to make the rounds on social media after school shootings and other tragedies: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
"He's more relevant than ever right now," says Amy Franzini at Pennsylvania's Widener University. "He's a dependable figure we can fall back on that makes us feel safe. ... He's the good in the world." "This is the year of Fred," said David Newell, who played the "speedy deliver" post man Mr. McFeely. "The program has really resonated — it's very rewarding. People in their 50s now are the first generation that watched the Neighborhood, and it goes all the way down to teens." Peter Weber
John Oliver shows how the world is laughing at Trump's America, offers a star-struck immigrant's defense
Last Week Tonight returned from its winter hiatus on Sunday night, and John Oliver's main topic was President Trump — again. "But tonight we'd like to do it from a slightly different angle," he said, "and that is focusing on his relationship with the world." It isn't good. Oliver did a brief survey of Trump insulting other countries, from his "shithole" slur on Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador, to his revealing excuse for retweeting anti-Islam videos from a British fringe group.
"That is exactly his attitude: If it wasn't big where I could see it, then it wasn't big," Oliver said. "So forget foreign affairs — Trump may not have mastered object permanence, which you really need to be a president, or even a good f---ing baby." But "the world continues to exist whether Trump acknowledges it or not," he said, focusing on a few "basic questions": "What is Donald Trump's foreign policy," "how is his approach to the world going," and "what are the consequences"? The short answers are "America First," horribly, and America is losing to China.
Oliver spent some time on Trump's promise that the world would stop laughing at America if he were elected. "If anything, the world is laughing harder than ever before," he said, showing Trump impersonators and world leaders making fun of Trump around the world. Still, there's nothing funny about the leadership vacuum America has left in the world.
"It seems like America's reputation overseas is under attack from its own president — which is just ridiculous," Oliver said. "Soft power is an act of salesmanship, it's selling your brand — it is the one thing that Trump is supposed to be good at, and he's f---ing blowing it. So as an immigrant who has fallen in love with this country, for what it's worth, please allow me to speak to the rest of the world in America's defense for a moment." There is some NSFW language throughout. Peter Weber
"Of course the president can lead on this and should lead on this, and Mr. President, I ask you to do this," Kasich said on CNN's State of the Union. "You don't have to boil the ocean, but take some steps now," he continued. "I believe those who are Second Amendment advocates realize that common-sense, real reforms can happen in this country to answer the cries and the anguish of people all across this country who have lost loved ones."
Kasich specifically recommended more extensive background checks as well as "local law enforcement or the FBI" monitoring those believed to suffer from mental illness or emotional distress. Watch an excerpt of his CNN interview below. Bonnie Kristian
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 18, 2018
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, on Sunday announced "March for Our Lives," a demonstration for new gun control legislation scheduled for Saturday, March 24, in Washington, D.C., and cities around the country.
"People are saying that it's not time to talk about gun control. And we can respect that," said Cameron Kasky, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas junior who explained the event on ABC's This Week. "Here's a time: March 24 in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives," Kasky continued. "At this point, you're either with us or against us."
Kasky and four fellow Stoneman Douglas students — Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Alex Wind, and Jaclyn Corin — made a similar appearance on Fox News Sunday. Watch a clip of that interview below. Bonnie Kristian
Stoneman Douglas students announce March for Our Lives on March 24. "One of the things we've been hearing is that it's not the yet time to talk about gun control... so here's the time we're going to talk about gun control." pic.twitter.com/CLUf6JM9fs
— Axios (@axios) February 18, 2018
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Sunday offered a qualified defense of President Trump's claim that he has been vindicated by the evidence revealed in federal investigations of Russian election meddling.
Friday's indictment of Russian nationals and entities by Special Counsel Robert Mueller "proves there’s no collusion to this point," Christie said on ABC's This Week. "There's no collusion in terms of the Facebook ads, the other social media activity."
"Director Mueller made it very clear in the indictment that any participation by anybody — whether it was in the Trump campaign or the [Bernie] Sanders campaign, which they said was also being assisted by this effort by Russia — that all of that was done unwittingly," Christie continued. "No one participated in a knowing fashion. Now, we have to see where [Mueller] goes next, but certainly at this point, there is no allegation by Director Mueller and his team of collusion."
Watch a clip of Christie's comments below, or read his full interview here. Bonnie Kristian
Does @GovChristie believe the new Russia indictments prove there was no collusion by the Trump campaign? He tells @MarthaRaddatz “Well, it proves there’s no collusion to this point… we have to see where [the special counsel] goes next.” pic.twitter.com/Qtvbse9G9R
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) February 18, 2018