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New Government Shutdown Looms

Congress has 2 weeks to fund the government. They have 3 working days. Vox: “Still without a deal on DACA and spending, Congress has two jam-packed weeks — of retreats. Congress only has three working days between today and the next shutdown deadline on February 8 — when Senate Democrats hope to reach an agreement on immigration — to cobble together a spending deal to keep the government open. Congressional Republicans and Democrats will spend the greater part of the next two weeks out of Washington on retreat: the annual meetings that give parties time to strategize their legislative priorities for the year ahead. Republicans are heading off to Greenbrier resort in West Virginia today for three days. Next week, Democrats are scheduled to be in Cambridge, Maryland, for three days starting February 7, in direct conflict with the spending deadline. Because members say they need at least a month to write a spending bill, Congress is expected to pass yet another short-term spending agreement on February 8 — but they still have a lot of difficult decisions to make. There is still uncertainty around whether that agreement will come with a deal on budget caps — the upper spending limit for military and domestic programs — which Democrats and Republicans have to agree on. And there’s already some frustration among Democratic and Republican ranks about having to vote for another short-term spending bill.”

ICE Director Warns Undocumented To ‘Be Afraid’

ICE chief will ‘never back down’ from telling undocumented immigrants to be afraid. HuffPost: “Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, doubled down Wednesday on his controversial comments from last year that all undocumented immigrants should be worried about getting arrested and deported under the Trump administration. ‘I’ll never back down on those words,’ Homan said at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, a conference that connects law enforcement with companies looking to win contracts. ‘If you violate the laws of this country, if you enter illegally ― which is a crime ― it’s not going to be OK anymore.’… Homan loudly championed some of President Donald Trump’s most contentious immigration positions on Wednesday. That included the White House’s opposition to standalone legislation to grant legal status to young undocumented immigrants who have benefited from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama administration program that Trump canceled.”

Trump Ends Protection For New Syrian Immigrants

Donald Trump extends protections for some Syrians in U.S., shuts others out. HuffPost: “The Trump administration will leave some Syrians in the U.S. at risk of being deported while their country is still mired in war, but extend temporary protections for several thousand others, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday. The agency will extend temporary protected status, or TPS, for Syrians for another 18 months, which will allow an estimated 5,800 Syrians to legally continue living and working in the U.S. But Syrians who came to the U.S. after August 2016 will be shut out of the TPS program — despite the ongoing war in Syria and against the urging of human rights organizations, faith leaders and national security experts.”

FEMA Continues Food And Water To Puerto Rico, For Now

In reversal, FEMA says it won’t end Puerto Rico food and water distribution. NPR: “A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday that the agency’s plan to end its distribution of emergency food and water in Puerto Rico and turn that responsibility over to the Puerto Rican government would not take effect on Jan. 31… The turnabout came after politicians from both political parties reacted angrily to news of FEMA’s plan and after the Puerto Rican government released a statement saying it had not been informed of the impending change. On Tuesday, lawmakers from both parties had called on the agency to reverse its decision.”

CFPB’s Independence Confirmed By Court

President’s Power to Oust Consumer Watchdog’s Chief Is Curbed by Court. NYT: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s director can be fired by the president only for cause, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday, restoring security to a job that has become a political lightning rod… The appeals court’s decision came too late to protect the suit’s initial target, Richard Cordray, who resigned in November. Mr. Cordray, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama, took an aggressive approach to regulation that made him unpopular with the financial industry. Mr. Cordray’s departure allowed President Trump to install his own acting director at the agency, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director. Mr. Mulvaney has dropped some of his predecessor’s lawsuits and investigations, delayed new rules from taking effect and called for more ‘humility and prudence’ at the bureau.”

Trump Opens Federal Lands To Bids Friday

Gold Rush-style grab of public lands To begin Friday. Common Dreams: “Despite protests from conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic lawmakers, and even the United Nations’ expert on indigenous rights, at 6am on Friday the Trump administration will allow citizens and companies to start staking claims on sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah so the new stakeholders can conduct hard rock mining on the formerly protected lands. ‘It is outrageous to witness the dismantling of the Bears Ears national monument, in what constitutes a serious attack on indigenous peoples’ rights in the United States,’ said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.”

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