White House Barrels Towards Shutdown
White House prepares for shutdown as both sides dig in over Trump’s wall. WaPo: "The White House and a number of federal agencies have started advanced preparations for a partial government shutdown, as President Trump and congressional Democrats appear unlikely to resolve their fight over a border wall before some government funding lapses at week’s end. On Sunday, neither side appeared willing to budge from their negotiating positions over funding for Trump’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico. 'We’re going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall,' White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said in an interview on CBS’s 'Face The Nation.' Pressed on the prospect of a shutdown, Miller said, ;If it comes to it, absolutely. This is a very fundamental issue.'"
TX Judge Rules ACA "Unconstitutional"
A federal judge has ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. So now what happens?. USA Today: "On Friday, a federal judge fulfilled a wish conservatives have held for more than eight years by ruling the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with a group of 20 states with Republican governors or legislatures that argued the constitutionality of the law's individual mandate dissolved when Congress removed the tax penalty for the uninsured. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the law and its mandate requiring people purchase insurance on the grounds that it fell within Congress' taxation power. O’Connor said when the tax penalty was removed so was the central argument upholding the 2010 law's constitutionality. His ruling declared not only the individual mandate but the entire law unconstitutional. That decision leaves Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as millions of Americans, wondering, 'So, what happens now?' For the immediate future, the answer is nothing. The ACA will remain in place while the law's future is handled in the courts, a process could take months or years to resolve. People who bought coverage on the health care exchanges before Saturday's deadline will be insured for 2019."
Fossil Fuel Lobbyist Takes Over Interior, Zinke Out
Former fossil fuels lobbyist to head interior department as Zinke exits. The Guardian: "Ryan Zinke’s exit as interior secretary elevates a former lobbyist to the job, meaning the top two US environmental agencies will now be run by people previously paid by industry. The deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, will take over at least temporarily when Zinke steps down at the end of the year. He also could be in the running to head the department permanently. And at the Environmental Protection Agency, the acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, who was a coal lobbyist, will be nominated to keep the post. Bernhardt was a fossil fuels and water industry lobbyist at the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck before he joined the Trump administration. He was previously the chief lawyer at the interior department under the George W Bush administration. In an ethics pledge, Bernhardt said he would wait until August 2019 to have certain interactions with his former firm and some major oil and gas companies he represented. But many of the industry-friendly changes he has ushered in as the No 2 official were on the wishlists of the companies who employed him. 'It’s not so much who has he helped. It’s who hasn’t he helped in industry so far,' said Bobby McEnaney, who works on western US energy issues for the Natural Resources Defense Council."
Mulvaney New WH Chief Of Staff
a href="https://www.salon.com/2018/12/16/mick-mulvaney-once-called-trump-a-terrible-human-being/">Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney once called Trump a "terrible human being". Salon: "Budget Director and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who has been lobbying hard to permanently replace John Kelly as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, may have had his chances derailed by the revelation that he referred to Trump as a “terrible human being” shortly before the 2016 election. As The Daily Beast reported on Friday, Mulvaney offered Trump the most backhanded of all expressions of support during a debate with Democratic candidate Fran Person in November 2016. “Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being,” Mulvaney told the audience gathered at York Middle School in York, South Carolina. The revelation about Mulvaney’s insult may hurt the South Carolinian’s chances of serving as Trump’s new chief of staff on an official rather than interim basis. On the one hand, Mulvaney has developed a strong relationship with the president. He has served him without public embarrassment as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and has so commanded the president’s trust that, until this month, Mulvaney also served as acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It is possible that this long tenure of service could smooth over any rough feelings that might be caused as a result of Mulvaney’s remarks. At the same time, the president also has a track record of bearing grudges against those who did not support him during the 2016 election."
Sarah Huckabee's Biggest Lies
Sanders is out: Here's a look at 6 of her most egregious lies. Alternet: "As we close out the year and the White House career of the staffer Stephen Colbert likes calling HuckaSand, these are the most egregious lies from her podium. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she would be leaving the White House at the end of 2018 after serving for two years in the administration. She leaves behind a legacy of lying to such a degree it’s become a farce. Credibility from the press podium has spent the better part of her term falling to 30 percent approval rating, lower than even her boss. According to YouGov surveys, her approval rating among the Millennial Generation is an embarrassing 21 percent. The survey doesn’t breakdown trustworthiness, but throughout 2018, Huckabee Sanders’ lies from the podium couldn’t have helped with respectability. As we close out the year and the White House career of the staffer Stephen Colbert likes calling HuckaSand, these are the most egregious lies from her podium."