Congress Working to Avoid Government Shutdown
Government funding is set to expire this weekend, meaning Congress must pass a spending bill to keep the government open.
With still no consensus on an immigration bill, Republicans introduced a funding plan on Tuesday that looks to attract Democratic votes by also giving long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance to nearly 9 million children.
However, Democrats are still looking for protection for the children of DACA, complicating the passage of the plan.
With Republicans in control of both houses and the presidency, they would likely take most of the blame for a possible shutdown. “The government stays open if [Republicans] want it to stay open and shuts down if they want it to shut down,” said Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT).
North and South Korea Unite for Olympic Opening Ceremony
On Wednesday, it was announced that North and South Korea would march under a united Korean flag for the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony. The Olympic Games are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea beginning February 9th. The announcement comes after weeks of talks between the two countries.
Additionally, North and South Korea would form a joint women’s ice hockey team, the first joint team ever for both countries.
The agreement is waiting on the approval from the International Olympic Committee because North Korea has missed the deadlines to register and qualify. South Korea must also discuss methods to avoid UN sanctions while hosting North Korea for the Games.
Allies of South Korea, including the United States and Japan, voiced their concerns over the news. Taro Kono, the Japanese Foreign Minister, warned, “I believe that North Korea wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear and missile programs. ” China, however, denounced the “Cold War mentality,” cautioning that it could prevent a proper solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
Jeff Flake Speaks Out Against Trump
Jeff Flake (R-AZ) took to the Senate floor yesterday to deliver a speech criticizing President Trump for his rejection of the free press. In addition, he discussed the Russian investigation and emphasized the importance of discovering the truth in the matter. Flake went as far as to compare Trump’s attacks on the press to Joseph Stalin, the late Soviet dictator.
Flake is not running for another term. He has vowed to use his remaining time in the Senate to do what he has done this week: push back against what he sees as problematic in the Trump administration.
In Other News…
Two American citizens and two Canadian citizens have been kidnapped in Nigeria on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Bitcoin crashed to just half of its peak price, falling to as low as $10,000.
Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of popular 90’s band The Cranberries, was found dead on Monday. She was 46.