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Government May Shut Down Friday

DACA fix looms over talks to prevent government shutdown. NPR: "Congress, once again, finds itself days away from a potential government shutdown and a fight over immigration could stand in the way of a deal to prevent it. 'It could happen,' Trump told reporters on Wednesday. 'Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous for our country. They are looking at shutting down. They want to have illegal immigrants in many cases, people that we don't want in our country, they want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country.' Democrats say that's wrong on multiple counts — that they don't want immigrants streaming into the country illegally, nor do they want a shutdown. That speculation by Trump further heightened tensions ahead of a planned Thursday with the president and congressional leaders at the White House. At issue are protections for immigrants known as DREAMers. Those are the roughly 700,000 people who are in the U.S. illegally and were brought to the country as children."

House Loosens Restrictions On Guns

House celebrates anniversary of Newtown massacre by passing bill loosening gun restrictions. CNN: "The House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday loosening gun regulations and allowing those with permits to carry concealed weapons to legally travel with those firearms to other states, a top priority of the National Rifle Association... Connecticut Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who represents Newtown, where nearly five years ago 20 elementary school children and six teachers were murdered in a mass shooting, called the bill "an outrage and an insult to the families" of those killed by gun violence. Wednesday's vote marked the first time since Newtown that the House took up any significant gun legislation, something several Democrats raised, citing recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas without any action on proposals related to those incidents."

VA Cuts Benefits For Homeless Vets

VA cuts program for homeless vets after touting Trump's commitment. Politico: "Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program. The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness. Anger exploded on a Dec. 1 call that was arranged by Shulkin’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans to explain the move. Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the program, attacked the decision, according to five people who were on the call. 'I don’t understand why you are pulling the rug out,' Elisha Harig-Blaine, a National League of Cities housing official who was on the call, said in an interview afterward. 'You're putting at risk the lives of men and women who've served this country.'"

Government Auctions Oil Rights On Millions Of Acres In Alaska

Alaskan oil lease sale brings few bids despite vast territory offered. Reuters: "An oil-and-gas lease sale that raised concerns with environmentalists due to the vast amount of acres offered in Arctic Alaska drew few bids on Wednesday, government officials said. Seven bids were received, covering about 80,000 acres - or less than 1 percent of the 10.3 million acres offered in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska by the Trump administration. It was, by far, more territory than ever offered in any of the previous 12 NPR-A lease sales held since 1999. The sale was the latest move by the administration of President Donald Trump, a Republican, supporting his pledge to make the United States "energy dominant" by boosting output of oil, natural gas and coal."

Trump Rushes To Open Federal Lands To Drilling

Now we finally know how much Federal land could be at stake in Trump’s rush for more drilling. Mother Jones: "If fossil fuels are the Holy Grail for the Trump administration—and his emphasis on 'energy dominance' suggests they are—there is far more at stake than the 2 million acres the president rescinded from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante’s monument designations. More than 120 million acres of protected land—larger than the state of California—are situated over rich reserves of oil, coal, and gas, according to a new analysis by Greenpeace’s Unearthed investigations team. They calculate that within those public lands are 28.9 million acres of national forests, 13.6 million acres of national wildlife refuge, 2.9 million acres of parks, and 7 million acres of wilderness overlapping with fossil fuel fields and basins. This is the first relatively comprehensive inventory of federally protected land intersecting with oil, coal, and gas deposits. Unearthed compared fossil fuel estimates from the US Geological Survey, Energy Information Administration, and Alaska Department of Resources with federal land data from the Geological Survey, using mapping software to calculate the percentages of federal land acreage that overlap."

Native Groups Challenge Oil Sales

Republican tax bill presents grave threat to Alaska's tribal groups. The Guardian: "For tribal people in northern Alaska, a Republican tax overhaul that was hastily cobbled together in congressional backrooms 3,000 miles away has raised fears that their entire way of life could be erased from this frigid corner of the US. The Senate’s tax bill may land a decisive blow in a 30-year environmental battle over the Arctic national wildlife refuge, a vast untrammeled area hailed as America’s Serengeti by conservationists, by finally prising open the wilderness to oil and gas drilling. The region’s Gwich’in people fret that their primary food source, caribou, may be lost, and with it the future of the tribe itself. 'We are fighting for our way of life right now,' said Bernadette Demientieff, the executive director of the Gwich’in steering committee, who is spending the week in Washington DC to frantically plea the tribe’s case to Congress."

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