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Teacher Protests Spread To Arizona, Colorado

Teacher protests spread to Colorado as Arizona strike begins. NYM: "The strike announced by Arizona teachers last week formally began today with no clear signs of any resolution of their dispute with Republican lawmakers in sight. And teacher unrest has spread to Colorado, where an estimated 10,000 teachers are using personal leave today and tomorrow to go to the state capitol to lobby for better pay and restoration of education funding cuts, leading to widespread school closings... Colorado’s teacher action is not, the Colorado Education Association (the state’s NEA affiliate union) makes clear, any sort of formal strike; under the state’s decentralized teacher employment system, a strike could lead to serious legal consequences for those deemed to be in violation of their contracts. But that could change with provocations from hostile Republican legislators, two of whom have introduced legislation imposing sanctions and even jail time for teachers who strike or try to organize a strike."

Opioid Crisis Bills Advance Without Funding

Democrats, public health experts highlight lack of funds as opioid bills advance. Morning Consult: "Mmembers of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Energy and Commerce committees advanced legislation that would make wide-ranging changes to fight the opioid crisis, including encouraging research into nonaddictive painkillers, imposing new prescription limits on opioids and expanding medication-assisted treatment. The legislative efforts have mostly bipartisan support, but some Democrats and public health experts argue that the measures won’t have a significant effect on preventing or treating opioid addiction, because they exclude a key component: a continuous stream of funding dedicated to the opioid crisis."

Senate Confirms Pompeo As Secretary Of State

Senate confirms C.I.A. chief Pompeo to be Secretary of State. NYT: "The Senate easily confirmed Mike Pompeo on Thursday as the United States’ 70th secretary of state, elevating the current C.I.A. director and an outspoken foreign policy hawk to be the nation’s top diplomat. In the end, the 57-to-42 tally lacked the drama of other nail-biting confirmation votes in the Trump era. This week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, the nominee’s main Republican antagonist, bowed to pressure from President Trump to drop his objections. Ultimately, seven members of the Senate Democratic caucus — five of whom face re-election this year in states that Mr. Trump won in 2016 — joined a united Republican conference to support Mr. Pompeo’s confirmation. Shortly after the vote at the Capitol, Mr. Pompeo went across the street to the Supreme Court, where he was sworn in by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Mr. Pompeo then dashed to Joint Base Andrews, where a plane was waiting to fly him to Brussels for a meeting of NATO allies. Senior staff on the plane greeted him with applause. Over the next three days, he will also travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Jerusalem; and Amman, Jordan."

Democrats Seek To Cull Progressive Candidates

Pelosi defends leadership effort to cull Dem primary. The Hill: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday defended Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) following revelations that the minority whip pressed a Colorado liberal to drop out of a primary race in a highly contested Denver suburb. Pelosi said such pressure campaigns are simply a pragmatic way to narrow the primary field for the sake of increasing the party’s chances of picking up Republican-held seats in November's midterm elections. According to a recording obtained by The Intercept, Hoyer late last year pressed Levi Tillemann to drop out of the Democratic primary race to challenge Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) in November. Tillemann is a former Obama administration official who’s running to the left of leading candidate Jason Crow, an attorney and Army veteran. The seat is a top target for Democrats."

Ryan Fires Jesuit House Chaplain

Ryan dismisses House chaplain, leaving lawmakers demanding answers. WaPo: "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) dismissed the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy this month as chaplain of the chamber, an unusual decision that angered some of the Jesuit priest’s allies in Congress... the issue blew up in recent days as lawmakers began to speak to the chaplain, whose public role is to offer the opening prayer each day the House is in session — but whose private role, far more importantly, is to serve as pastoral counsel to the entire community on the House side of the Capitol. In his letter of resignation, Conroy made clear that he was leaving at Ryan’s request... Reps. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) and Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) are circulating a letter to Ryan that will ask for an explanation, trying to gain signatures from both parties and from all denominations. 'Is this a content judgment? We have no answers,' said Connolly, also a Catholic. 'The House deserves better than that.'"

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