👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ The government shutdown entered day 21 as Congress left for the weekend following another round of stalled negotiations to end the shutdown – ensuring that the partial government shutdown will become the longest in history. The House and Senate, however, both passed a measure to ensure that federal workers who are furloughed receive back pay once the government reopens, which now goes to Trump for his signature. The House also passed another bill to reopen more government departments, but is likely DOA in the Senate because of a veto threat from Trump. The second-longest shutdown stretched for 21 days from December 1995 until January 1996, due to a dispute between Bill Clinton and the Republican-led Congress at the time. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press)
2/ An estimated 800,000 federal employees missed their first paycheck due to the shutdown. In particular, more than 24,000 FAA employees, including air traffic controllers, are working without pay, since their positions are considered vital for “life and safety,” and more than 17,000 other have been furloughed – told to stop doing their jobs. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)
Federal crop payments have stopped flowing to farmers, who say they cannot get federally-backed operating loans to buy seed for their spring planting, or feed for their livestock because of the shutdown. Farmers also can’t look up government data about beef prices or soybean yields to make decisions about planting and selling their goods. Some farmers have said the loss of loans, payments and other services has pushed them to a breaking point. (New York Times)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has curtailed inspections due to the shutdown, while the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has suspended health exposure assessments. Cash assistance to buy groceries are funded through February. (The Guardian)
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett compared the shutdown to getting a free “vacation” for furloughed workers and that they might be “better off” after they return to work. (Politico)
3/ The Trump administration is laying the groundwork to declare a national emergency and possibly using a portion of the Army’s $13.9 billion disaster fund to pay for his border wall. The money is meant to fund civil works projects, including repairing storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico through 2020. Jared Kushner, meanwhile, has urged Trump to try to find other approaches than declaring a national emergency, but said an emergency should be invoked only if it creates a clear path for the White House to build the wall. Democrats are exploring both legislative and legal options to challenge a possible national emergency declaration. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)
- UPDATE**: Trump said he is not looking to declare a national emergency “right now” for his border wall**, a day after suggesting he would “probably” do so. Trump instead urged “Congress to do its job” and vote, again, on funding for the wall. Yesterday, Trump claimed his lawyers had told him that a national emergency declaration – allowing him to bypass Democrats in Congress – would hold up to legal scrutiny “100%.” (Washington Post / The Guardian)
4/ Trump falsely denied that he ever promised that Mexico would “write out a check” for his border wall, except he did: at least 212 times during the campaign and more since taking office. In a March 2016 memo, Trump outlined that Mexico would “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” for the wall. Trump has more recently resorted to a baseless claim that Mexico will now indirectly pay for the wall through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which has not been ratified by Congress, and contains no provisions earmarking money for the wall. (Washington Post / New York Times)
poll/ 74% of Americans call the shutdown “embarrassing,” with 72% saying the shutdown is going to hurt the country. (NPR)
poll/ 51% of adults believe Trump “deserves most of the blame” for the shutdown. (Reuters)
poll/ 39% of Americans favor building a wall, while 59.1% oppose it. Among Republicans, 74.1% favor a wall, while 85.4% of Democrats oppose it. (Washington Post)
The U.S. began withdrawing some equipment – but not troops – from Syria. Military officials have refused to provide details about specific timetables or movements, but a spokesperson said “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria” has begun. He continued: “Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movement.” The number of troops or vehicles that have been withdrawn also remains unknown at this time. (Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times)
The United States approved thousands of child bride requests over the past decade. From 2007 through 2017, there were 5,556 approvals for those seeking to bring minor spouses or fiancees, and 2,926 approvals by minors seeking to bring in older spouses. The Immigration and Nationality Act does not set minimum age requirements, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services goes by whether the marriage is legal in the home country. (Associated Press)
Rudy Giuliani thinks Trump’s legal team should be allowed to “correct” Robert Mueller’s final report before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it. Giuliani went on to call it “a matter of fairness,” because the special counsel “could be wrong.” (The Hill)
Steve King doesn’t understand why the phrases “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” have “become offensive.” The nine-term Iowa Republican and Trump ally declared himself an “American nationalist” in a statement while defending his support of “western civilization’s values.” (New York Times / Politico / The Guardian)
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