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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

Joe Biden is considering Stacyy Abrams as his running mate. Why hasn’t he declared yet?

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Joe Biden is considering Stacyy Abrams as his running mate Why hasnt he declared yet

The Joe Biden saga keeps getting stranger every week. While most anticipate the former Vice President is going to run for President in 2020, he still hasn’t announced despite most of the major candidates who were expected to run have already made their announcement. Now, a report that his staff is considering asking former Democratic contender for Georgia Governor Stacey Abrams continues to add fuel to speculation while also making this whole thing even more strange.

In 2016, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) made the rare move of announcing his Vice Presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, before securing the nomination. It was a desperate move at a time when his prospects for defeating Donald Trump were fading and it didn’t work out. Biden’s alleged move is very different. He’s ahead in the very early polls even before the first debate, let alone the Iowa caucus. Yet speculating about a potential VP seems out of place, just like everything else in this whole debacle.

My theory is he’s trying to minimize the potential attack channels by cautiously field-testing everything first. By gathering data without officially announcing a run, he has the luxury of riding the speculation train as long as he can. He would be the instant frontrunner if he were to announce, but if history tells us anything, frontrunner status rarely means much. Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner from beginning to end in 2016, but even then the speculation of a late run by Biden was appealing to many Democrats.

Biden likely fears being the early frontrunner will generate fatigue for his name being tossed around so often. It’s still early; at this point in 2015, only one major GOP candidate, Cruz, had officially announced his run. Biden wants to ride the speculation as long as possible knowing once he’s officially in, he’s open to attacks. Just as his old boss President Obama did in 2008, some lesser known high-energy candidate could sneak up on the frontrunner and knock them off quickly. In 2015, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker were early frontrunners before being embarrassingly tossed aside by Trump and the other candidates.

Whether or not Biden selects Abrams, and if she’s willing to take the nomination, this type of speculation allows him to stay in the news while people continue to hold their collective breath about a future announcement.

Bottom line, he’s running. He’s been running for a while. The fact that he’s not official yet only plays into the fundraising he’s missing, which he’ll be able to make up quickly once he announces. All in all, the Democratic race is turning hilarious.

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Babylon Bee satire piece pretty much nails the Democrats’ incentive on Electoral College

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Babylon Bee satire piece pretty much nails the Democrats incentive on Electoral College

The founders decided to employ an Electoral College in picking the President to prevent tyranny by majority. They realized back then exactly what is happening today – the establishment of urban and suburban echo chambers that would rather see flyover country engulfed by a giant tornado than to “suffer” through conservative and Christian ideologies, especially in Washington DC. This is the driving force behind the sudden push to abolish the Electoral College, and the satirical masterminds at Babylon Bee nailed it.

Democratic candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is leading the charge to make the process that saved us from a Hillary Clinton presidency obsolete. Why? Because they can’t figure out how to win otherwise. Sure, they were able to dominate the Electoral College with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but the last two Democratic Presidents were running against weak Republicans in both of their elections. Had they been running against conservatives, especially in each of their first elections, the results may have been very different and the country may be in much better shape by now.

Nevertheless, this is what the Democrats want. Any system that can yield President Trump is a system they know they can fight against with their unhinged supporters, blind followers, and Trump haters.

That’s the nature of America today. Satire doesn’t need to venture too far away from reality in order to get a hilarious version of the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in, especially as it pertains to the loony party on the far left.

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TIL the famous bar AOC worked at shut down over rising costs, minimum wage increase

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TIL the famous bar AOC worked at shut down over rising costs minimum wage increase

Today I learned something that surprised me, not because of the event itself but because so few people have talked about it. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is known for being a leader of the socialist movement in Washington DC after rising from the humble status of bartender to the Congresswoman of the 14th district in New York. Her policies include a push for a “living wage” of $15 per hour. I’ve always thought the wording was odd considering Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and others have been calling for a rise in “minimum wage.” Today, I found out why she’s shying away from that phrase.

When New York City raised their minimum wage $15, many businesses were hit hard, especially in the hospitality industry. Restaurants and bars started cutting hours and often even closing their doors over the increase. One of those hit hard by the massive bump was The Coffee Shop. Owner Charles Milite blamed the closure on high costs, with the rise in minimum wage as the last straw.

“The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees,” he said.

The Coffee Shop is the bar where AOC once worked.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t some random bar. The Coffee Shop in Union Square was considered a high-end establishment, buzzing all the time with “A-list” patrons. It was featured many times in the HBO show Sex and the City and had built a reputation as an “it” spot for Manhattan residents and tourists alike. In other words, this wasn’t a hole in the wall hanging on by a string. It was a vibrant, successful business for almost three decades before New York City’s untenable leftist policies, including a $15 minimum wage, became more than the bar could bear.

On the surface, many voters may see the very basic math of “oh, Democrats want to pay me more” and assume there’s no repercussions for such actions. This is why Democrats prey on those people who currently make lower wages. They feel if they can promise them something that sounds good even if they know with 100% certainty based on empirical evidence that it will actually hurt them, these new socialists are willing to make that trade. They figure they can blame the conservatives later for why the place they were working at before cut their hours, removed their jobs, or shut down because of raising the minimum wage.

As usual, socialists rely on ignorance and emotion as the driving forces behind their plans. They’re not stupid. They know their ideas won’t work. But they’re willing to push them on people anyway in hopes that ignorance will keep them in power.

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