Week in Review
- President Donald Trump said he told lawmakers the ongoing partial government shutdown, which has entered its third week, could last for months or even years if he doesn’t get funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- House Democrats, joined by a few Republicans, passed legislation that would end the shutdown without providing funding for Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump said he “would look foolish“ if he signed onto the proposal.
- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California retook the speaker’s gavel, becoming the first lawmaker since Sam Rayburn more than half a century ago to return to the job and ushering in a new era of divided government. Pelosi won with support from 220 Democrats, as 15 members of her caucus opted against voting for her, and began speakership with her popularity on the rise – up a net 16 points since late August.
- A number of House Democrats criticized remarks made by freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who vowed to impeach Trump and called him a “motherf–r” while ending a speech to activists. Pelosi said in an interview she doesn’t “like that language,” but also said it was “nothing worse than what the president has said.”
- In an op-ed, Sen.-elect Mitt Romney (R-Utah) slammed Trump’s character and said the president’s “words and actions have caused dismay around the world.” Romney, a Trump critic since the 2016 campaign, said he would speak out against “significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”
- Senators agreed to confirm a large batch of Trump’s nominees before finishing the work of the 115th Congress, including several U.S. attorneys, inspectors general, foreign service officers and nominees to be members of the Federal Communications Commission. The list did not include lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary.
- Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) will not seek re-election in 2020. Rep. Roger Marshall, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and outgoing Gov. Jeff Colyer are among the names mooted as potential GOP candidates to succeed the 82-year-old lawmaker, who declined to name a preferred successor.
The Trump administration
- The Trump administration is considering tapping former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) to be the next secretary of Defense, sources said. However, Trump denied the reports shortly after they surfaced, calling them “FAKE NEWS” on Twitter.
- The Department of Justice is investigating whether newly departed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to his department’s inspector general, according to sources, a potential criminal violation. Zinke was facing two internal investigations as he left the administration.
- Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton left for the Middle East, with stops on their itinerary in Israel and Turkey to reassure allies after Trump’s troop withdrawal from Syria and James Mattis’s resignation as secretary of Defense. Neither official was expected to visit allies in Afghanistan, who were angered by Trump’s remarks appearing to call the U.S.-backed Mujahedeen “terrorists.”
- Trump allies fired back at Romney’s op-ed, with Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the Utah Republican’s niece, calling it “disappointing and unproductive.”
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke to a crowd of about 500 Iowans in Council Bluffs, making her the first declared major Democratic presidential candidate to hold an event in the pivotal state.
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said she was “getting close to a decision” about whether she will run for president, although she declined to put an exact timeline on when she’d reveal her plans.
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to run as a Democrat for president, saying in an interview “we’re laying the groundwork that would make this a feasible thing in the relatively short term.”
- Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Ind., who ran for chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2017, is also said to be seriously considering running for president and could also make an announcement very soon.