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January 30, 2018

In the Democratic response to President Trump's first State of the Union address, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) said the administration's "record is a rebuke to our highest American ideal, the belief that we are all worthy, that we are all equal, that we all count in the eyes of our law, our leaders, our God, and our government."

While the government is struggling to stay open, Russia is "knee-deep in our democracy," and the Justice Department rolls back "civil rights by the day," Kennedy said, the Democrats are choosing "a better deal for all who call this country home," including a living wage, pensions that are solvent, fair trade pacts, and a "health-care system that offers mercy." The Trump administration "callously appraises our worthiness and decides who makes the cut and who can be bargained away," and pits people against one another, he said. "We are bombarded with one false choice after another: Coal miners or single moms. Rural communities or inner cities. The coast or the heartland. As if the mechanic in Pittsburgh and the teacher in Tulsa and the daycare worker in Birmingham are somehow bitter rivals, rather than mutual casualties of a system forcefully rigged for those at the top."

Americans are always striving for progress, Kennedy concluded, and politicians "can be cheered for the promises they make," but the "country will be judged by the promises we keep." Catherine Garcia

5:51 p.m.

Everything experts warned would happen after California's wildfires subsided? It's happening.

Massive snow, rain, and wind storms have rocked the state from top to bottom this week, leaving at least six dead, The Associated Press reports. And with thousands of acres of trees gone after October's massive wildfires, mudslides and flash floods were quick to follow.

Heavy rain and snow started falling Tuesday in "a significant part of California" thanks to a "storm rolling in from the Pacific Ocean," an Accuweather meteorologist told USA Today earlier this week. Conditions have remained harsh ever since, bringing a winter storm warning to southern California and blizzards to the tops of the Sierra Nevadas through Thursday. Four people died in storm-related car accidents, one died when a tree fell on a homeless encampment in Oakland, and another died while fleeing a falling tree, per AP.

While rain helped douse the Camp Fire in northern California in November, it also increased the risk of deadly floods and mudslides because no vegetation remained to absorb the runoff, experts said. Those risks became a reality this week as up to 7 inches of rain were expected through Friday in the ravaged town of Paradise, with the National Weather Service issuing a flash flood watch in the town's Butte County.

The storms came a week after President Trump said he would cut off federal disaster funding to the state because "with proper forest management," the wildfires "would never happen." Thousands of families are still rebuilding after last year's fires, and the government shutdown could delay recovery efforts even further. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:26 p.m.

Pennsylvania's 12th District just got a new representative. And now it needs another one.

Less than three weeks after he was sworn into office, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) has announced he's stepping down. Marino is going to "take a position in the private sector" after "spending over two decades serving the public," he said in a Thursday statement. He didn't exactly say what that private sector job is, but broke down three of the eight bills he's introduced that became laws in the press release.

Before easily winning his seat last fall, Marino served as a four-term senator for Pennsylvania's 10th District, which was redistricted into the 12th. President Trump nominated him to be the federal "drug czar" in 2017, but he withdrew his name after a report showed he pushed for a pharmaceutical industry-backed bill that stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its biggest tool to fight prescription opioids entering the black market. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will now have to schedule a special election for the heavily Republican district, per Politico.

Marino's decision is especially ironic seeing as just last week, he introduced an amendment to the constitution that would let representatives serve 4-year terms. In a statement accompanying the proposed amendment, Marino said he'd "serve 12 years and then let new blood and ideas take the reins," but apparently he let go a few years early. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:45 p.m.

All Keanu Reeves' John Wick ever wanted was to hang out with his puppy, Daisy. But after losing his dog — not to mention his wife, house, car, and pretty much everything else to hordes of gun, knife, and grenade-launcher-toting gangsters in the first two John Wick films, it doesn't seem like things are getting any easier for the perpetually-pulled-out-of-retirement-by-a-righteous-code-of-honor hitman, if the first trailer for John Wick 3: Parabellum, released Thursday, is any indication. From the looks of things, the series' world-building maximalism, rain-splashed neon colors, and, of course, femur-snapping violence are entirely present in the franchise's second sequel — with a swaggering Halle Berry now added for good measure.

John Wick 3: Parabellum opens on May 17, and will look to build on the surprising box office success of John Wick: Chapter 2, which earned $171.5 million — more than double that of the original, which pulled in $88.8 million. Reeves could certainly use a hit, with his much-derided new sci-fi thriller, Replicas, having earned a paltry $2.9 million, according to Box Office Mojo — or roughly $11 million less than the bounty placed on our hero's head in John Wick 3: Parabellum.Jacob Lambert

3:42 p.m.

President Trump's cancellation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) overseas trip, seemingly in response to her request to delay the State of the Union, is already receiving pushback from one of his biggest supporters in Congress.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted that "one sophomoric response does not deserve another" in reaction to Trump's letter. While he said the House speaker's "threat" to cancel Trump's State of the Union address was "very irresponsible and blatantly political," Trump striking back by denying her the use of military aircraft for a previously undisclosed trip was also "inappropriate."

Pelosi had mentioned the ongoing government shutdown as the reason for potentially canceling the State of the Union, and Trump, in turn, cited the shutdown as the reason for canceling her trip. Graham says he has been attempting to find a bipartisan agreement to end the impasse in Congress but has had no luck, saying last week after Trump reportedly rejected a plan he was involved with that he has "never been more depressed." Brendan Morrow

3:03 p.m.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) may be a freshman congresswoman, but she has a thing or two to teach her fellow Democrats.

The newly elected representative is a bona fide Twitter star, topping every news organization and politician — other than President Trump — in interactions in the past month. And in a Thursday social media bootcamp, she taught some other representatives how to get a slice of her 2.45 million followers.

The Thursday session was "jam packed" with Democrats hoping to glean some of Ocasio-Cortez's wisdom, ABC News reports. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), whose husband, former Rep. John Dingell, has a solid 252,000 Twitter followers to her 37,000, said she was counting on her husband and "AOC" to improve her game. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) experimented with a gif and asked "#WheresMitch" after the lesson, and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Hawaii) learned how to snap a selfie.

Engaging younger voters is a perennial struggle for politicians on both sides of the aisle. But Ocasio-Cortez, along with some other young candidates, mastered the game in the run-up to the 2018 midterms. In Thursday's session, Ocasio-Cortez was sure to tell her colleagues that "social media is not just for young people," ABC News says. Then again, "don't try to be someone you're not," Ocasio-Cortez very rightly said. Get more Twitter tips from Ocasio-Cortez at ABC News. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:47 p.m.

President Trump has announced the postponement of an upcoming event, but not the one House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had in mind.

Trump said in a letter to Pelosi Thursday afternoon that an upcoming, previously-unannounced trip she had planned to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan, is off. This comes one day after Pelosi wrote a letter to Trump suggesting he delay the State of the Union. "In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate," Trump wrote to Pelosi.

While Trump doesn't actually mention the State of the Union in his letter, it's hard not to see this as a direct response to that seeing as Pelosi's rationale for postponing Trump's address was that it should not take place as long as the government is shut down. Trump told Pelosi that she's welcome to still go on the trip if she doesn't use military aircraft, writing, "Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative." Fox News' John Roberts reports that Trump's letter to Pelosi was delivered not long before she was set to leave.

Read Trump's letter below. Brendan Morrow

2:37 p.m.

A new program in California is helping former inmates get back on their feet by pairing them up with people who have rooms to spare, NPR reports.

The Homecoming Project, run by nonprofit organization Impact Justice in Alameda County, California, gives subsidies to those who are willing to rent a room to a recently-released former inmate. The group covers the formerly incarcerated person's rent for six months and goes through a lengthy screening process to find a good home for them. Not only does the organization aim to help former inmates return to a normal life as quickly as possible rather going from prison into restricted communal living, but they also hope to fight misconceptions about ex-convicts in general, they told NPR.

"Project Homecoming says you're a person and we're going to treat you like a person and give you the footholds and the scaffolding to be able to come back home and to be a full member of society just like anybody else," said Alex Busansky, who runs Impact Justice.

Coordinator Terah Lawyer also told NPR that "most of our hosts are familiar with redemption and change and want to be a part of helping be the stepping stone for someone's second chance." There are currently only six former inmates participating in the program, but Impact Justice says it is looking to expand to 25 this year. Brendan Morrow

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