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Zach Israel

Zach Israel
Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday, December 22, 2018, the federal government partially shut down after Republicans and Democrats in Congress could not agree on a stopgap funding measure that included enough money for President Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall to garner his signature. The partial shutdown-affecting the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury-is set to continue for at least several more days until an agreement can be reached between President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The departments whose funding lapsed represent about a quarter of the $1.24 trillion in government discretionary spending for FY 2019.An estimated 400,000 federal employees are working without pay and 350,000 are furloughed. If the shutdown standoff continues, all workers in the departments and agencies affected by the closing will miss their next paycheck on January 11. Read more.

The new 116th Congress convenes at noon on Thursday with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives (235 out of 435 seats) and Republicans maintaining control of the Senate (53 out of 100 seats). The new Congress begins with a parliamentary ceremony where lawmakers swear their oath of office and ratify rules changes for the 116th Congress. Following her expected election as Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will preside over the opening of a new Congress and administer the oath of office - en masse - to all new and returning House members. In the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence will swear in newly elected senators.

The House and Senate are in recess this week. Next week, the House will likely vote on a Senate-passed Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution (S.J. Res. 57) to block Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance issued on March 21, 2013 that was meant to stop discriminatory markups on indirect loans made by car dealers. During the week of May 14, the House will vote on the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), which the House Agriculture Committee marked up and passed on April 18 by a party-line vote of 26-20.
 
The Senate next week will vote on six federal circuit court judicial nominations: Kurt Engelhardt to be Judge for the 5th Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas); Joel Carson III to be Judge for the 10th Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming); John Nalbandian to be Judge for the 6th Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee); and Michael Brennan, Michael Scudder, and Amy St. Eve to be Judges for the 7th Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin). Senate Democrats are also preparing to force a floor vote to restore net neutrality rules repealed by President Trump's Federal Communications Commission this past December, creating a public clash they hope will help them in the midterm elections. Democrats are planning to take the procedural step May 9 to compel the vote on the CRA disapproval resolution (S.J. Res. 52), which could set up the vote as soon as the week of May 14. Senate Democrats have 50 votes lined up - more than enough to force a vote under the Congressional Review Act, but one shy of the 51 required for passage; Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is the only Republican who has pledged support for the effort so far.
 
On Monday, President Trump is meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. On Tuesady, Trump presents the Commander in Chief's trophy to the Army football team, meets with the crew of Southwest Flight 1380 and meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. On Wednesday, Trump speaks at the National Teacher of the Year reception. On Thursday, Trump participates in an event for the National Day of Prayer. On Friday or Saturday, Trump is likely to address the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.

During the week of April 23, President Trump announced his intent to nominate or appoint 19 individuals to positions in the Trump Administration.

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