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Federal shutdown begins after lawmakers fail to reach deal

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Federal shutdown begins after lawmakers fail to reach deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — A partial federal shutdown took hold early Saturday after Democrats refused to meet President Donald Trump’s demands for $5 billion to start erecting his cherished Mexican border wall, a chaotic postscript for Republicans in the waning days of their two-year reign controlling government.

Vice President Mike Pence, Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney left the Capitol late Friday after hours of bargaining with congressional leaders produced no apparent compromise. “We don’t have a deal. We’re still talking,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters.

Late Friday, Mulvaney sent agency heads a memorandum telling them to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown.” He wrote that administration officials were “hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration” — an expectation that was widely shared.

With negotiations expected to continue, the House and Senate both scheduled rare Saturday sessions. House members were told they’d get 24 hours’ notice before a vote.

The gridlock blocks money for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice.

The lack of funds will disrupt many government operations and the routines of 800,000 federal employees. Roughly 420,000 workers were deemed essential and will work unpaid just days before Christmas, while 380,000 will be furloughed, meaning they’ll stay home without pay.

Those being furloughed include nearly everyone at NASA and 52,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service. About 8 in 10 employees of the National Park Service will stay home and many parks were expected to close.

The Senate passed legislation ensuring workers will receive back pay, which the House seemed sure to approve.

Some agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, were already funded for the year in agreements reached earlier, and they will operate as usual.

The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, will not be affected because it’s an independent agency. Social Security checks will still be mailed, troops will remain on duty and food inspections will continue.

Also still functioning will be the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard. Transportation Security Administration officers will continue to staff airport checkpoints and air traffic controllers will also remain at work.

Trump has openly savored a shutdown over the wall for months, saying last week he’d be “proud” to have one and saying Friday he was “totally prepared for a very long” closure. While many of Congress’ most conservative Republicans were welcoming such a confrontation, most GOP lawmakers have wanted to avoid one, since polling shows the public broadly opposes the wall and a shutdown over it.

Initial Republican reaction to the shutdown was muted. Among the few GOP lawmakers who issued statements as it began were Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who expressed disappointment at the lack of a deal, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. “This is a complete failure of negotiations and a success for no one,” Alexander said.

“Instead of honoring his responsibility to the American people, President Trump threw a temper tantrum and convinced House Republicans to push our nation into a destructive Trump Shutdown in the middle of the holiday season,” said a joint statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Despite saying last week he’d not blame Democrats for the closure, Trump and his GOP allies spent the last two days blaming Democrats anyway. Trump said now was the time for Congress to provide taxpayers’ money for the wall, even though he’s said repeatedly that Mexico will pay for it — something that country has repeatedly rebuffed.

“This is our only chance that we’ll ever have, in our opinion, because of the world and the way it breaks out, to get great border security,” Trump said Friday. Democrats will take control of the House January 3, and they oppose major funding for wall construction.

Looking for a way to claim victory, Trump said he would accept money for a “Steel Slat Barrier” with spikes on the top, which he said would be just as effective as a “wall” and “at the same time beautiful.”

Trump called GOP senators to the White House Friday morning, but Republicans said afterward that the session did not produce a strategy.

Early this week, the Senate approved a bipartisan deal keeping government open into February and providing $1.3 billion for border security projects but not the wall. In a GOP victory Thursday, the House rebelled and approved a package temporarily financing the government but also providing $5.7 billion for the border wall.

Friday afternoon, a Senate procedural vote showed that Republicans lacked the 60 votes they’d need to force that measure through their chamber. That jump-started negotiations between Congress and the White House.

Republicans conceded that one of their biggest hurdles was Trump’s legendary unpredictability and proclivity for abruptly changing his mind.

“The biggest problem is, we just don’t know what the president will sign,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

The White House said Trump did not go to Florida on Friday as planned for the Christmas holiday.

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.

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Democrats

Rep. Seth Moulton enters the Democratic nomination race

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Rep Seth Moulton enters the Democratic nomination race

The clown car continues to fill up as a new Democrat announces their presidential campaign seemingly every week. This time, it’s Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA), marking the third politician from Massachusetts to vie for the top spot. He joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Republican governor Bill Weld as hopefuls from The Bay State.

An Iraq War veteran from the U.S. Marines, Moulton led efforts to replace Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once the Democrats won back control of the House last year. His politics are pretty much indistinguishable from other candidates as he favors Medicare-for-All, gun control, and other common leftist notions.

Moulton has a tall mountain to climb on the fundraising side if he hopes to make it to the main debate stage. There’s still time, but he’ll need to get some heavy attention very quickly to be able to make a serious run.

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How NOT to beat AOC: Run a big-dollar GOP candidate against her

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How NOT to beat AOC Run a big-dollar GOP candidate against her

There is some excitement coming out of the Bronx because of an alleged “big money donor” with connections who wants to defeat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) so badly, he or she is willing to fork over tons of dollars and influence in a campaign to turn the deep blue district red. This won’t happen. It will be disastrous if they try.

The only thing that could possibly work for the GOP to upend the hyper-leftist radical progressive would be to find the ideal candidate and run a purely grassroots campaign against her. Otherwise, they’d only be playing to her strengths.

If the GOP is serious about beating her, they need to forget the money angle. That’s not to say they don’t need money, but it needs to be money from within the district comprised of small donors who are targeted starting as soon as possible. They don’t need to appeal to the few Republicans in the district. They need to go after the independents and Democrats.

Their message must be simple, something to the effect of “The only candidate from the Bronx who is actually interested in the Bronx.” They have plenty of ammunition available to demonstrate how Ocasio-Cortez has her sights very clearly set on the national arena in which social media and battles with other Democrats is making her a nationwide star. They need someone who attends city council meetings, community meetings, and is 100% focused on the issues that concern the people of the Bronx instead of the grand ideas of Green New Deals and Medicare-for-All.

Then, they need a PAC that hammers away at the detrimental effects losing the Amazon deal has had on the Bronx. This is a gimme.

If their plans to go after AOC with money is the strategy that plays out, she’ll destroy them. It won’t be close. Every dollar spent will literally have the opposite effect. They can’t beat her with money. They need to hit doorbells.

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Democrats

Is Beto’s campaign already crumbling?

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Is Betos campaign already crumbling

Yes. Yes it is.

You won’t see any in mainstream media talking about it, not because they’re all trying to hide the reality (though some are) but because they probably haven’t noticed. This isn’t an analysis of what we’re seeing. The proof of Beto O’Rourke’s campaign demise can be seen in what’s absence.

Betomania isn’t taking hold as many (including me) predicted. He was actually getting more attention and interest from mainstream media before he officially announced his candidacy. Now, he’s struggling to get positive headlines. Even neutral stories, such as a pair of campaign aides leaving but still volunteering for the campaign, is being positioned in a negative light. The Hill’s headline was truthful and not spun, something they’re not known to do with headlines about candidates. Instead, it’s “Key aides leave O’Rourke’s campaign: report.”

Another story that’s making its rounds is his use of lobbyist campaign contributions. A favored candidate would get a plethora of headlines excusing this action with whataboutisms and claims of nothingburgers, bug so far, nothing. “O’Rourke faces question about acceptance of lobbyist money” is the type of headline we’re seeing.

In fact, we’re even seeing some negative opinion pieces coming from leftist publications. Radical progressive site Mother Jones didn’t take kindly to O’Rourke’s claims that his lack of charitable giving was due to him giving himself to the people.

So, where’s the Betomania we were promised? Some of it is being sucked away by a concerted effort underway by some progressive groups who really, really want a woman to be at the top of the ticket, and not Hillary Clinton. With Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand all having favorable genders to some of these groups than someone like O’Rourke, the need to chop him down is important if they’re going to have a chance against the two old white guys, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders.

But the primary reason Beto is flailing for attention is because so much of it is going to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Like O’Rourke did with his 2018 Senate campaign, Buttigieg came out of nowhere to suddenly be rising in the polls and raising an unexpected amount of campaign funds. He’s also getting a sustained level of attention from the media as compared to O’Rourke’s hills and valleys.

Little by little, Buttigieg is getting attention from everyone on the left. He’s omnipresent in the media, which is very difficult considering the number and popularity of his competitors.

So far in April, he’s drawn many more searches on Google than O’Rourke. Most of this can be attributed to people simply not knowing who he is, but the consistency of his media dominance is worth noting.

Very few saw Scott Walker’s climb and sudden fall in 2015 during the early days of the GOP primary. He went from the frontrunner to pulling his name from contention seemingly overnight. Are we seeing the same with Beto O’Rourke?

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