The government partially shut down at midnight after the House and Senate failed to pass a spending bill. President Trump had insisted he would not sign any spending bill that did not include $5 billion for the border wall.
The partial shutdown won't have much effect on your holiday plans. The post office will stay open, so gift and holiday card stragglers can still put them in the mail. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents would still work, and air travel would continue virtually unaffected.
Government employees who are considered "essential," such as Secret Service agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents and U.S. troops deployed at the border, will still be working. But a shutdown creates a risk for hundreds of thousands of federal workers: More than 420,000 federal employees would have to go to work without pay. More than 380,000 will be furloughed. Those who work will get paid eventually - and those furloughed likely will - but depending how long the shutdown lasts, they could miss a paycheck.
Funding that expired at midnight Saturday covers the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the State Department, the Interior Department, the Departure of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among some other federal entities.
The Office of Management and Budget -- still run by incoming acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney -- has issued guidance to each agency, and each agency would develop its own shutdown plan. Federal agencies must halt all "non-essential" discretionary work and so-called non-essential employees must stay home until new funding legislation is signed into law.
The US Supreme Court has ruled against the Trump administration's policy to deny asylum to any migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally.
The top court rejected the policy 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court's liberals.
Federal judges had previously stayed the asylum ban, ruling it tried to circumvent existing laws granting anyone the right to asylum in the US.
The government had described the policy as a way to address the border crisis.
Conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.
The court offered no opinion, just a document noting the order upholding the lower courts' ruling against the ban.
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions — to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
James N. Mattis
The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would move to make sure able-bodied Americans work to receive food stamp benefits, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said could save billions of dollars in taxpayer money each year.
The Agriculture Department unveiled expanded work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. A move to expand such requirements was included in a $400 billion farm bill recently passed by Congress, but was stripped out at the last minute.
According to the proposed rule, those who are able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) would need to work at least 20 hours per week up to age 59 in order to receive government assistance.
"Under current SNAP requirements, ABAWDs must work or participate in an employment program for at least 20 hours a week to continue to receive benefits for more than three months over a 36-month period," the USDA said. "States may request to waive the time limit in areas with an unemployment rate above 10 percent or where there are ‘not sufficient jobs,’ which current regulations primarily define as an unemployment rate 20 percent above the national average.
"With today’s strong economy, that could include areas with unemployment rates of under 5 percent – a rate normally considered to be full employment. In 2016 there were 3.8 million individual ABAWDs on the SNAP rolls, with 2.8 million (or almost 74 percent) of them not working," the USDA said.
“Long-term reliance on government assistance has never been part of the American dream,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As we make benefits available to those who truly need them, we must also encourage participants to take proactive steps toward self-sufficiency. Moving people to work is common-sense policy, particularly at a time when the unemployment rate is at a generational low.”
A specially appointed federal panel of judges has dismissed all 83 ethics complaints brought against Justice Brett Kavanaugh regarding his conduct at his confirmation hearings.
The judges concluded that while the complaints "are serious," there is no existing authority that allows lower court judges to investigate or discipline Supreme Court justices.
The complaints against Kavanaugh ranged from allegations that he had misled the Senate about some of his activities in the George W. Bush White House to his angry, partisan statements in denying charges of sexual assault in high school.
At his contentious confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh railed against Democrats, accusing them of engaging in a liberal conspiracy, a sort of payback for his onetime role as a prosecutor investigating President Bill Clinton.
"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups," Kavanaugh thundered. "This is a circus. ... And as we all know, in the United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around."
A federal judge on Friday ruled that the White House had to return press credentials to CNN’s Jim Acosta — at least temporarily — rebuking President Trump’s decision to yank them after a contentious press conference.
Washington, DC, Judge Timothy J. Kelly issued his ruling after hearing nearly two hours of oral arguments about CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Wednesday.
The judge emphasized that his decision was based on the Fifth Amendment since Acosta was denied his right to due process — and not on the question of whether the White house can bar reporters from the grounds.
“If at some point after restoring the hard pass the government would like to move to vacate the restraining order on the grounds that it has fulfilled its due process obligations, then it may, of course, do so and I will promptly address that and then the remaining basis of the (temporary restraining order),” Kelly said.
Hillary Clinton must answer more questions under oath regarding her emails, a conservative watchdog group declared Wednesday.
"Breaking: Court rules late today Hillary Clinton must answer more email questions — including key q's about the setting up of her email system," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton tweeted after a hearing in federal court.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan heard the case, which stems from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit regarding the controversial employment status of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who was granted a "special government employee" designation to accept outside employment while she was working at the State Department.
The Justice Department has filed charges under seal against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a person familiar with the matter confirmed Friday after prosecutors inadvertently tipped off the information in a court filing.
Any charges against Assange, who has been taking cover for years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, could help illuminate whether Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. They would also suggest that, after years of internal wrangling within the Justice Department, prosecutors have decided to take a more aggressive stance against the secret-sharing website.
The person who confirmed that Assange had been charged spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the charges had not been made public. It was not immediately clear what charges Assange could face or when they might become unsealed.
The Washington Times
President Donald Trump pledged his support for a major overhaul of sentencing laws and prisoner re-entry programs at the White House on Wednesday.
Trump's backing for the package, which is still being drafted in the Senate, has been seen as a key factor in providing political cover for Republicans and Democrats to vote for an overhaul that would diminish criminal penalties for some offenders and make it easier for former inmates to find work.
Trump framed a planned reduction in certain mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and other proposed sentencing provisions as a bid to fix President Bill Clinton's 1994 anti-crime law.
"It rolls back some of the provisions of the Clinton crime law that disproportionately harmed [the] African-American community," Trump said at a White House event.
At the same time, he praised a bipartisan push for re-evaluating criminal justice issues — even though none of the lawmakers who joined him at the White House were Democrats.
Sen. Jeff Flake announced Wednesday that he will not vote to advance any new judicial nominees through the Judiciary Committee, nor will he vote to confirm picks on the Senate floor, until he gets his way on unrelated legislation to prevent the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr. Flake made the announcement on the Senate floor minutes after his bid to pass the bill failed.
His threat could block the committee from approving any more judges this year, since the GOP only holds a one-seat majority on the panel.
It’s less catastrophic to approving judges on the Senate floor, where the GOP holds 51 seats. Even losing Mr. Flake, Republicans could still approve judges on a 50-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.
Still, the senator’s move was a major escalation in the battle over Mr. Mueller, who is investigating the 2016 election, Russian interference and Trump campaign figures’ behavior.
Mr. Flake and Sen. Chris Coons tried to get the Senate to pass a bill that would have prevented Mr. Mueller from being fired without good cause.
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