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Shutdown Ends For Now, With Few Paychecks

Some federal employees still can’t afford diapers as they await paychecks. WaPo: “The partial government shutdown is over — at least for the next few weeks — but that did not matter to the group unloading thousands of diapers off a truck at Reagan National Airport on Sunday morning, a donation that aims to help Transportation Security Administration workers and others who still have not received a paycheck since December. Federal employees likely will have to wait until late this week to get paid after missing two paychecks in January. The pause in cash flow has left many reliant on food banks and unable to afford life’s basic necessities, including diapers, tampons, maxi pads and adult incontinence products, all of which are expensive and nearly impossible to do without. At least 20 diaper banks across the country have provided diapers, feminine and incontinence products, formula and more to federal employees during the shutdown and in the few days since Congress and President Trump agreed to reopen the government. Diaper banks started to receive calls for help in mid-January, and the entreaties became more and more desperate the longer the shutdown went on, according to organization officials. The requests continue even though the government is set to reopen, and groups are planning to hand out diapers and other products this week.”

Dems Open Voting Rights Agenda In Congress

As government reopens, the new Congress tries to begin again. NYT:
“With the government shutdown over for now, the 116th Congress will hit reset this week, showcasing a Democratic agenda in the House that was overshadowed by the struggle to reopen the government and furnishing both chambers with early opportunities to test whether divided government can produce results. With the government shutdown over for now, the 116th Congress will hit reset this week, showcasing a Democratic agenda in the House that was overshadowed by the struggle to reopen the government and furnishing both chambers with early opportunities to test whether divided government can produce results. The House, which spent weeks passing futile bills to reopen the government, will turn to legislation higher on the Democrats’ priority list, including a bill to raise pay for civilian federal employees. Leading Democrats also plan to reintroduce a marquee bill to close the pay gap between men and women that they have fought to enact for years. In the Senate, Republicans will try to push through a bipartisan Middle East policy bill that includes a disputed provision targeting the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. With the measure, Republicans will test for fractures in the resurgent Democratic Party, where Palestinian rights activists have found new voices in House freshmen such as Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. dAnd in both chambers, lawmakers have teed up a high-impact lineup of hearings — effectively the first of the year. House Democrats will zero in on the cost to the military of President Trump’s election-eve troop deployments to the border and begin to consider their ambitious legislation to expand voting rights, make political giving more transparent and do away with partisan gerrymandering. The House, which spent weeks passing futile bills to reopen the government, will turn to legislation higher on the Democrats’ priority list, including a bill to raise pay for civilian federal employees. Leading Democrats also plan to reintroduce a marquee bill to close the pay gap between men and women that they have fought to enact for years. In the Senate, Republicans will try to push through a bipartisan Middle East policy bill that includes a disputed provision targeting the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. With the measure, Republicans will test for fractures in the resurgent Democratic Party, where Palestinian rights activists have found new voices in House freshmen such as Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. And in both chambers, lawmakers have teed up a high-impact lineup of hearings — effectively the first of the year. House Democrats will zero in on the cost to the military of President Trump’s election-eve troop deployments to the border and begin to consider their ambitious legislation to expand voting rights, make political giving more transparent and do away with partisan gerrymandering.”

Utah GOP Wants To Kill Medicaid Expansion

84 days after residents voted for Medicaid expansion, Utah lawmakers want to repeal or cap it. ThinkProgress: “The Utah state legislature returns to work on Monday and GOP lawmakers are already proposing multiple bills that hobble a successful ballot measure to expand health care to more low-income residents. Utah State Sen. Allen Christensen’s (R) bill would prevent the ballot initiative — ‘Proposition 3,’ which was approved in November and allowed for a clean Medicaid expansion — from going into effect. It would do so if the federal government approves a waiver submitted by the state in July to impose a per capita cap on federal reimbursement for more enrollment restrictions. Politico reported early this month that the Trump administration is currently exploring whether it can allow states to implement Medicaid block grants, a policy sought by conservatives to attempt to limit spending. When ThinkProgress asked Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) if he’s interested in the idea, his office replied, ‘Governor Herbert supports meaningful changes to Medicaid that bring the program into alignment with state demographics and budget constraints.'”

Super-Rich Get $2.5b Every Day, Stash It Away

The upward march of the billionaires. Axios: “The world’s billionaires increased their wealth by $2.5 billion per day in 2018. There are now more than 2,200 of them, and the amount of wealth stored in offshore tax havens was estimated at $7.6 trillion in 2015. Billionaires have historically been alluring, magical figures. The U.S. even elected one of them to the presidency. But he isn’t doing so well. Increasingly, billionaires are seen as avatars of inequality and greed.”

The Real Meaning Of Walls

The real wall isn’t at the border. It’s everywhere, and we’re fighting against the wrong one. NYT: “President Trump wants $5.7 billion to build a wall at the southern border of the United States. Nancy Pelosi thinks a wall is “immoral.” The fight over these slats or barriers or bricks shut down the government for more than a month and may do so again if Mr. Trump isn’t satisfied with the way negotiations unfold over the next three weeks. But let’s be clear: This is a disagreement about symbolism, not policy. Liberals object less to aggressive border security than to the wall’s xenophobic imagery, while the administration openly revels in its political incorrectness. And when this particular episode is over, we’ll still have been fighting about the wrong thing. It’s true that immigrants will keep trying to cross into the United States and that global migration will almost certainly increase in the coming years as climate change makes parts of the planet uninhabitable. But technology and globalization are complicating the idea of what a border is and where it stands. Not long from now, it won’t make sense to think of the border as a line, a wall or even any kind of imposing vertical structure. Tearing down, or refusing to fund, border walls won’t get anyone very far in the broader pursuit of global justice. The borders of the future won’t be as easy to spot, build or demolish as the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing. That’s because they aren’t just going up around countries — they’re going up around us. And they’re taking away our freedom. oday, relatively few land borders exist to physically fend off a neighboring power, and countries even cooperate to police the borders they share. Modern borders exist to control something else: the movement of people. They control us. Those are the walls we should be fighting over.”

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