Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 20, 2018

Federal government shuts down after negotiations fail, Trump touts shutdown as motivation for 2018 GOP wins, and more


Federal government shuts down after negotiations fail

The U.S. government shut down at midnight on Friday after a four-week spending bill, which passed in the House Thursday, failed 50-49 in the Senate. It needed 60 votes to pass. President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met privately Friday in an attempt to negotiate a deal, but at voting time, most Democrats stood firm in their refusal to support a measure that does not protect immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children. This is the first government shutdown in more than four years. About 850,000 federal workers will be furloughed, while employees deemed "essential" will stay on the job without pay. Typically, federal employees receive back pay once a deal is reached.


Trump touts shutdown as motivation for 2018 GOP wins

President Trump responded to news of the government shutdown on Twitter early Saturday, blaming congressional failure to pass a spending deal on Democrats, whom he said "are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border." Senate Democrats have insisted the spending bill address the fate of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for immigrants illegally brought to America as minors. Trump linked the shutdown to the 2018 midterm elections, arguing a 60-vote Senate majority would let Republicans "be even tougher on Crime (and Border), and even better to our Military & Veterans!"


GOP senators propose Feb. 8 for spending extension, DACA vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ended Senate negotiations around 1:30 a.m. Saturday after no deal was reached to avert government shutdown. He proposed a three-week temporary spending bill to re-open the government through Feb. 8 while talks continue, though Senate Democrats already rejected a similar four-week proposal. However, Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) told reporters on their way home for the night they secured McConnell's agreement for a vote on Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by the same Feb. 8 deadline. DACA is primary among Democrats' demands in the spending talks.


Supreme Court to weigh legality of Trump's travel ban

The Supreme Court confirmed Friday it will consider the legality of President Trump's travel ban, which restricts travel to the United States from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, and North Korea, and for certain government officials from Venezuela. Six of the eight nations targeted by the ban are predominately Muslim. A lawsuit filed by Hawaii challenging the ban succeeded before a federal district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. But the Supreme Court has signaled it could be amenable to the ban, which is the third of its kind to be issued by the Trump administration. Oral arguments begin as soon as April.


Trump addresses March for Life

President Trump became the first sitting president to address the annual March for Life in Washington on Friday. He spoke to a small group of activists in the White House Rose Garden, and the address was broadcast live to the much larger crowd assembled on the National Mall. "As you all know, Roe v. Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world," Trump said of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision on abortion. He described the march as "a movement born out of love" and touted his executive actions on the issue.


House Republicans debate release of Nunes memo

Some House Republicans are demanding the release of a memo compiled under the leadership of House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), while other GOP representatives say it must stay classified for security reasons. Those who want the memo published have described its contents — which reportedly detail FBI and Justice Department misconduct during the 2016 election, including misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to target the Trump campaign — as "worse than Watergate." Democrats say the memo is a dishonest attempt to discredit probes into Russian election meddling and collusion, and some reports say the #releasethememo social media campaign has been amplified by Moscow-linked Twitter accounts.


Prosecutors say Rand Paul was attacked over stacked brush

Federal prosecutors on Friday announced felony charges against Rene Boucher, the man accused of brutally attacking his neighbor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in November. Boucher's alleged assault was primarily motivated by anger over Paul stacking a pile of trimmed branches and other brush, officials said. The stack was on Paul's land, but close to Boucher's property line. Paul was surprised by the attack because he was wearing headphones, and he suffered five fractured ribs, pleural effusion, and pneumonia. Boucher faces up to a decade in prison.


Feds to retry Menendez corruption case

The Justice Department on Friday announced it will soon retry Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and his co-defendant, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. The first prosecution ended in a mistrial in November after jurors were unable to reach a verdict. Menendez is charged with 18 counts of corruption. He is accused of accepting expensive gifts, including private jet flights and luxury hotel stays, in exchange for providing special favors to advance Melgen's financial interests. Both men have denied all wrongdoing, claiming they are simply good friends.


Olympians Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber confront Larry Nassar at sentencing

Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber issued powerful impact statements in court Friday at the sentencing of former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar is accused of having abused more than 130 of his patients during medical exams between 1998 and 2015. Wieber, 22, had not previously revealed her abuse. Raisman, 23, directly addressed Nassar in her statement: "Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice," she said. "Well you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only beginning to just use them."


Coroner finds Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose

After completing an autopsy, the coroner's office in Los Angeles concluded rock legend Tom Petty's October death resulted from an accidental drug overdose. Petty was found to have fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl in his system when he died. "Unfortunately Tom's body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems, and most significantly a fractured hip" for which he was prescribed strong painkillers, his family said, expressing hope that the coroner's report could "spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis" and perhaps "save lives."


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