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Congress Punts Big Fights To January

Congress passes stopgap bill to avoid government shutdown. NYT: "Congress gave final approval on Thursday to legislation to keep the government funded into January, averting a government shutdown this weekend but kicking fights over issues like immigration, surveillance and health care into the new year. The stopgap spending bill extends government funding until Jan. 19 while also providing a short-term funding fix for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, whose financing lapsed at the end of September. After the House and Senate succeeded in passing a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul this week, the stopgap bill includes language to prevent automatic spending cuts that would be required to offset the tax bill’s effect on the deficit."

Conservative Campaign To Sell Tax Cuts' Benefits

The Kochs can’t make America stop hating Trump’s tax cut. New York Magazine: "The Koch Brothers, who have already spent $20 million to promote the tax cuts, believe more spending will do the trick. Their 'full-scale nationwide education campaign' reportedly involves 'town hall events, seminars, workshops, phone banking, and door knocking.' Door-knocking! Everything will turn around when Americans come face-to-face on their doorstep with a Koch Brothers representative keen to gauge their interest in a large corporate tax cut or, failing that, perhaps some expensive but exquisitely hideous shirts that can be worn in the boardroom, or in the discoteca, or in a nightclub, or on a yacht."

Congress Must Judge Trump On Self-Enrichment

Judge dismisses lawsuit alleging Trump violated Constitution. WaPo: "A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that President Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause because his hotels and restaurants do business with foreign governments while he is in office. The plaintiffs argued that because Trump properties rent out hotel rooms and meeting spaces to other governments, the president was violating a constitutional provision that bans the acceptance of foreign emoluments, or gifts from foreign powers. But Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York ruled that the plaintiffs, led by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), lacked standing to bring such a case, saying it was up to Congress to prevent the president from accepting emoluments. CREW said it plans to appeal the verdict... The suit was one of the most high-profile efforts to take aim at Trump’s decision to hold onto his hotel and golf-course business while in the White House. However, the president faces similar suits: one filed by a group of congressional Democrats and another filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District."

Brain Drain At The EPA

E.P.A. officials, disheartened by agency’s direction, are leaving in droves. ProPublica: "More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration. Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced. The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by President Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach. That unease is likely to deepen following revelations that Republican campaign operatives were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from E.P.A. officials suspected of opposing Mr. Trump and his agenda."

DOL Hides Theft Of $5.8 Billion In Tips From Workers

Trump Administration Is Trying to Hide the $5.8 Billion Its Tip-Stealing Plan Would Cost Workers. Alternet: "A recent study shows the costs of the Trump Department of Labor’s proposed rule that would allow employers to steal workers' tips, and they’re huge. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that employers would take $5.8 billion from workers—after all, tip theft isn’t allowed now but it’s still fairly common: 'Research on workers in three large U.S. cities (Chicago, Los Angeles and New York) finds that 12 percent of tipped workers had tips stolen by their employer or supervisor.' As you might imagine, Team Trump has not exactly led with this information. In fact, the EPI’s Heidi Shierholz tells Jared Bernstein in the Washington Post, the Trump Department of Labor isn’t even doing the bare minimum to let the public know what effect this proposal would have. 'In a deeply unusual move, DOL did not provide an estimate of the amount of tips that will be transferred from workers to employers (which is one reason we did so). This is unusual because agencies are required by law as a part of the rulemaking process to assess all quantifiable costs and benefits to the fullest extent possible.'"

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