5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Trump, McConnell split on strategy to end shutdown

  • Hundreds of thousands rally for weekend Women's March

  • Ryan: GOP is negotiating spending, DACA in 'good faith'

  • Pence Mideast trip proceeds despite shutdown

  • Turkey attacks U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria

President Trump tweeted Sunday that the GOP should change Senate rules to pass a funding bill to end the government shutdown without Democrats' help. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, has never shown enthusiasm for this "nuclear option." He promised Saturday night to call a vote by Monday at the latest on a temporary funding provision to re-open the government until Feb. 8 as spending talks continue. Moderates in both parties reportedly support the measure. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) complained Saturday that Trump's involvement in spending talks is impeding possible progress. "Negotiating with this White House is like negotiating with Jell-O," Schumer said. "It's next to impossible."

Source: The Hill, The New York Times

The Women's March returned for a second year Saturday and Sunday as hundreds of thousands of women rallied in cities across the country and at sister marches abroad. The march in Washington proceeded despite the government shutdown, which many demonstrators referenced as part of their critique of the Trump administration. Immigration policy, the #MeToo movement, health care, and the 2018 midterms were of central concern to protesters, who encouraged each other to vote against President Trump's GOP this year. Trump responded on Twitter Saturday, commenting that the weather was nice for women to celebrate his many accomplishments, particularly in the economic realm.

Source: The New York Times, CNN

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) argued on CBS Sunday that blame for the government shutdown rests entirely with Senate Democrats. "We're waiting for the Senate Democrats to open the government back up," Ryan told host John Dickerson. "This is solely done by the Senate Democrats. It's absolutely meaningless," he continued, accusing Democrats of posturing that undercuts their own political aims. "What's so baffling about this is we [Republicans] were negotiating in good faith on [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)]," Ryan said. "We actually want to solve this problem. So it's not as if we were saying, 'No way, no how, no discussions.'" Ryan made similar remarks on the House floor Saturday, pledging the GOP is "willing to work together in good faith on immigration."

Source: CBS News, San Francisco Chronicle

Vice President Mike Pence departed for the Middle East this week, proceeding with visits to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel despite the government shutdown. The trip was labeled a national security measure, the White House told Politico, to avoid shutdown-related cancellation. In Cairo on Saturday, Pence met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who expressed displeasure with President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Pence described the conversation as "disagreement between friends." On Sunday, Pence spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who said after the Jerusalem announcement, the U.S. must "rebuild trust and confidence" in the possibility of a two-state solution.

Source: Politico, The Associated Press

Turkish troops on Saturday attacked an enclave of U.S.-supported Kurdish YPG militia fighters in the northern Syrian city of Afrin. After airstrikes, Turkish state media reported, ground troops entered the area Sunday. The YPG allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, but Ankara considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists because of their ties to Kurdish rebels in Turkey. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the United States will have an open-ended military presence in Syria, including ongoing support for the Kurds. Tillerson's statement angered Turkey, a U.S. ally via NATO.

Source: The Associated Press, VOA
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