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Last-Minute Deal Averts Shutdown

Senate passes stopgap spending bill that would avert shutdown. NYT: "Moving to head off a looming government shutdown, the Senate passed a stopgap spending bill on Wednesday night that would keep the government funded through Feb. 8 — and would punt the impasse over a southern border wall to the new year and a divided Congress. The bill, which quickly passed by voice vote after senators were corralled back to the chambers, was expected to pass the House on Thursday and be sent to President Trump before the midnight Friday deadline, when funding would lapse for nine federal departments. The measure poses an uncomfortable political problem for Mr. Trump among his far-right supporters, even though it remained unclear if the president, who has been a volatile factor throughout the spending debate, would sign such a measure without the $5 billion he has demanded for a border wall. Mr. Trump appeared to back away from the demand in recent days, and conservatives were already condemning the president’s seeming capitulation on his signature campaign promise."

MI House To Overrule GOP Power Grab

Michigan House plans to kill Republicans’ lame duck power grab. ThinkProgress: "After Republicans lost their hold on key political positions in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky in the 2018 Blue Wave, lame duck legislative Republicans have drawn national attention for their efforts to strip power from the newly elected Democrats and to ram through as much legislation as possible while they still can. In Michigan, the Republican-controlled legislature already cancelled a popular minimum wage increase and weakened the state’s paid leave policy in the final days before Democrat Gretchen Whitmer replaces Republican Governor Rick Synder. But it appears their effort to strip Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) of her powers may have been a bridge too far for the state’s House."

How Ending ACA Upends Health Care

5 ways nixing the ACA could upend the entire U.S. health system. NPR: "If last Friday's district court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional were to be upheld, far more than the law's most high-profile provisions would be at stake. In fact, canceling the law in full — as Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, ordered in his 55-page decision — could thrust the entire health care system into chaos. 'To erase a law that is so interwoven into the health care system blows up every part of it,' says Sara Rosenbaum, a health law professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health. 'In law they have names for these — they are called super statutes,' she says. 'And [the ACA] is a super statute. It has changed everything about how we get health care.' O'Connor's decision is a long way from implementation. He still must rule on several other aspects of the suit brought by 18 Republican attorneys general and two GOP governors. And a group of state Democratic attorneys general has promised to appeal O'Connor's decision, which would send it to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and, possibly, the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court has rejected two previous efforts, in 2012 and 2015, to find the law unconstitutional."

Baltimore Judge To Rule On ACA

In federal hearing, Maryland AG seeks to preserve ACA, opposes acting U.S. attorney general. Baltimore Sun: "The Maryland attorney general's office told a federal judge Wednesday that the Trump administration 'displaced' the Senate-approved official — Rod Rosenstein — who was properly in line to become acting U.S. attorney general and illegally named Matthew Whitaker instead. 'He’s not somebody who would be confirmed by the Senate,' state Attorney General Brian Frosh said of Whitaker following a three-hour hearing in U.S. District Court. 'He has extreme views.' Frosh’s lawyers made two requests during the hearing: a declaration that the Affordable Care Act — once known as Obamacare — is constitutional and an order that could have the effect of replacing Whitaker with Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general — and former Maryland U.S. attorney — who was confirmed by the Senate. The two requests are connected, Maryland attorneys argued, because Whitaker — if he was improperly appointed — should not be making significant decisions about whether to enforce the Affordable Care Act."

Trump Wants Work Requirement To Receive Food Stamps

Trump administration aims to toughen work requirements for food stamps recipients. WaPo: "The Trump administration unveiled a plan Thursday to force hundreds of thousands more Americans to hold jobs if they want to keep receiving food stamps, pursuing through executive powers what it could not achieve in Congress. The country’s food assistance program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, already requires most adults without dependents to work if they collect food stamps for more than three months in a three-year period. But USDA regulations allow states to waive the requirement in areas with unemployment rates that were at least 20 percent greater than the national rate. The USDA is now proposing that states could waive the requirement only in areas where unemployment is above 7 percent. The current national unemployment rate stands at 3.7 percent. Approximately 2.8 million able-bodied recipients without children or an ailing person in their care were not working in 2016, according to the USDA’s latest numbers. Roughly 755,000 live in areas that stand to lose the waivers."

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