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On the roster: Pelosi ratchets up the pressure - I’ll Tell You What: The state of our union is… delayed? - Beto bobbles softball - Audible: Do what now? - Scattered, smothered, covered, chunked & topped
PELOSI RATCHETS UP THE PRESSURE
AP: “Shutdown pressure on President Donald Trump mounted Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on him to delay his Jan. 29 State of the Union address and his own economists acknowledged the prolonged standoff was having a greater economic drag than previously thought. In a letter to Trump, Pelosi cited security concerns, noting that both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department are entangled in the partial government shutdown, now in its fourth week. She added that unless the government reopens this week, they should find another date or Trump should deliver the address in writing. The White House did not immediately respond to the high-stakes move… Pelosi is refusing money for the wall she views as ineffective and immoral; Democrats say they will discuss border security once the government has reopened. Trump met a bipartisan group of lawmakers Wednesday that included seven Democrats. Two people who attended the White House meeting agreed it was ‘productive,’ but could not say to what extent Trump was listening or moved by the conversation.”
Economic consequences grow - WSJ: “The slowdown among federal contractors is taking a toll on the entire economy, according to Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He said the economy was losing a tenth of a percentage point of growth per week because of the overall impact of the shutdown, rather than a previous estimate of a tenth of a percentage point every two weeks. ‘We’ve been watching the actual effects, and noticing that the impact that we see on government contractors is bigger than the sort of staff rule of thumb anticipated,’ Mr. Hassett said. The nine major federal departments affected by the shutdown committed to spend $61 billion for contracted services in fiscal year 2018, according to public data, roughly 11% of the total $544 billion allocated for such work.”
Should have checked C-SPAN - Roll Call: “A group of roughly a dozen freshman House Democrats on Tuesday marched to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in the Capitol to ask that he take up House bills to open up government. The Kentucky Republican was on the Senate floor when the freshmen stopped by his office, but his staff welcomed them inside. The staff chatted briefly with the new House Democrats and told them they’d set up a meeting with the majority leader. McConnell’s position has been that the Senate will not take up any government funding bills unless it is a solution agreed to by President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats.”
House Dems’ stopgap funding bill fails - Roll Call: “House Democrats’ attempt to sway enough Republicans to help them pass a stopgap funding bill to open up the government through Feb. 1 failed Tuesday. The continuing resolution to extend fiscal 2018 funding for shuttered agencies for two-and-a-half weeks failed, 237-187. It needed two-thirds support of those voting to pass because it was brought to the floor under a fast track process known as suspension of the rules. Only six Republicans voted for the CR: New York Reps. John Katko and Elise Stefanik, Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and New Jersey Rep. Christopher H. Smith.”
THE RULEBOOK: STAND UP
“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28
TIME OUT: ORGANIC BEAUTY
Atlantic: “An artwork is a living organism. If you visually break down a work of art into its various components and systems, you will begin to understand how each of its elements functions and how those elements work together in harmony, just as you would if you were learning gross anatomy or dissecting a body. In this way, you can begin to see not just what an artwork looks like, but how it’s structured, what its elements and systems do, how they interrelate, and how they contribute to the life of the artwork as a whole. … It is neither important nor necessary, usually, to name and identify the symbolic meanings of those dynamics, but it is important to feel them and to understand how they operate on and relate to one another in an artwork, how they build into and contribute to and fuse as an organic whole.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 39.8 percent
Average disapproval: 55.8 percent
Net Score: -16 points
Change from one week ago: down 4.6 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 37% approve - 57% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 37% approve - 59% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: THE STATE OF OUR UNION IS… DELAYED?
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the latest twists and turns in the ongoing government shutdown. (Hint there’s not much.) Oh and there may not be a State of the Union... which is just fine with Chris. Plus, a look at the growing 2020 field and trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
BETO BOBBLES SOFTBALL
Fox News: “Former Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke faced across-the-board criticism on Tuesday after an unflattering interview in The Washington Post portrayed him as equivocal and unsure on a variety of substantive policy issues -- and included a comment that seemed to question the modern-day relevance of the U.S. Constitution. … And at one point in the two-hour chat with The Post's Jenna Johnson, O'Rourke openly wondered whether the U.S. can ‘still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago’ in the Constitution. … The article even included an apparent shot by at O'Rourke from former Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who told The Post he was ‘very pleasantly surprised’ that O'Rourke … was ‘suddenly interested’ in immigration reform efforts last year. Asked what could be done about illegal immigrants who overstayed their visas, O'Rourke told Johnson simply, ‘I don’t know.’”
Bernie faces staffers over past harassment complaints - Politico: “Bernie Sanders arrived Wednesday for a meeting with a group of former staffers who've raised concerns about sexual harassment and violence on his 2016 campaign and urged the Vermont senator to make reforms if he runs for president again. Sanders did not respond to a reporter's questions as he entered the meeting at a hotel in Washington through a private door. Later, his wife, Jane Sanders, arrived for the meeting.”
Brown to start four-state swing - NPR: “Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown took a step towards a 2020 presidential campaign, announcing a tour of states holding early presidential primaries next year. Seeking to counter President Trump's appeal to white, working-class voters that helped him flip Ohio and other key midwestern states, Brown is launching a ‘Dignity of Work’ tour through Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. ‘Too many Democrats, the national Democratic Party, sees this in kind of this false choice of Democrats speak to the progressive base, or speak to working class families regardless of race. I think you need to do both,’ Brown told NPR's Morning Edition on Wednesday. Brown said he would ultimately decide whether to run in March, after his tour.”
Warren takes Voldemort approach to Trump - Fox News: “As she sets out on an almost-certain White House bid, Sen. Elizabeth Warren so far has curiously avoided uttering the name of one prominent politician: President Trump. At a town hall-style session at Manchester Community College on Saturday, the Massachusetts Democrat referenced him only indirectly. Touting ‘the biggest anti-corruption proposal since Watergate,’ Warren implored that ‘everyone who runs for public federal office put their tax returns online, everyone.’ It was a clear jab at Trump, who as both a candidate and as president has repeatedly refused to release federal income tax returns. But she made an effort not to speak his name -- a tactic that's apparently part of a broader party strategy, albeit one that could leave candidates like Warren limited in their ability to strike back at an incumbent who shows no qualms about personally attacking every political foe.”
Bud. Wise. Err. - KTRK: “First, Beto O'Rourke was accused of swiping the Whataburger Spicy Ketchup package design for his 2018 Texas senate campaign sign. Now, another Texan has entered election season with a logo that seems strangely familiar as well. Saturday, former Obama Cabinet secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination. Standing behind the ex-Housing and Urban Development secretary in San Antonio were cheering supporters, holding the sign which reads ‘Julián’ in a large white sans serif font, framed on a blue background with a white rectangle around it. The image, clean and bold, has some people drawing comparisons to Bud Light's newest logo, introduced by designer Jones Knowles Ritchie in 2016.”
Abrams and Gillum look for kingmaker role - Politico: “Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum … amassed so much political fame that they’re a must-call for the growing roster of likely Democratic presidential contenders. They’re also on some early and unofficial lists as possible vice-presidential running mates. The White House hopefuls don’t just crave an endorsement from Abrams or Gillum. Each boasts valuable donor and volunteer lists, in the Southeast’s two biggest states that, if won next year, would almost guarantee a Democratic White House. The attention Abrams and Gillum are receiving from presidential hopefuls is an indication of the growing pull of the party's progressive base and highlights the role each could play as gatekeepers for African-American and liberal voters. In a crowded Democratic primary, that could make them kingmakers for a candidate lucky enough to score an endorsement or, at least, anchors who keep the candidates moored to a liberal agenda.”
Are Dems 2020 hopefuls jumping the gun? - WaPo
As Barr’s confirmation hearings wrap no indication of if he’d release Mueller memo - WashEx
Pelosi critic pays the price, blocked from plum committee post - Politico
Night of the living dead? British PM May survives no-confidence vote - Fox News
Republicans who denounce remarks by Steve King face the question: What about Trump? - NYT
Senate GOPers protect administration effort to lift some Russia sanctions - AP
Whitaker to face questions from House Dems soon - Politico
Home prices slump - CNBC
Twitter fail: Former Rep. Kihuen gets dragged over harassment history - Roll Call
AUDIBLE: DO WHAT NOW?
“I’m six days into the term, and you already used all your ammo. So enjoy being exhausted for the next two years while we run train on the progressive agenda.” – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., in an interview with the WaPo.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Government employees are going to be paid for the work they do. I continually hear how they are not being paid. They will be paid. When I hear about Go Fund Me pages, it is suggesting to me that they are trying to profit from their income deferral. Yes, it is unfortunate that their income is delayed and the baggage that goes with that, but they will get their money. The real economic losers are the government contractors, small business owners who depend on the government income from others in generating income for their businesses. These are the people who really will suffer an economic loss. Let’s hear more about them.” – Jim Dobbyn, Traverse City, Mich.
[Ed. note: A petty officer, first class in the Coast Guard with 10 years of seniority has a base pay of $41,760 a year. That’s about $18,000 less than the median household income in the U.S. Missing $3,480 – a month’s pay – might be “baggage” to you. But I suspect that for a lot of military families, that’s a terrible blow, whether they get the money later or not. I think that it’s more than a little uncharitable for you to suggest that people who are doing dangerous, important work for no immediate pay are trying to profit from the shutdown because they are looking for supplemental income. As for the contractors, you’re quite right. The intentional infliction of economic harm is staggering.]
“Hi Chris and Brianna, Continued thanks for publishing the report. A breath of sanity in an otherwise insane media atmosphere. Regarding the Coast Guard ‘unfunding.’ What do we do as an average Joe and Josephine? I’ve written my Congressman and Senator and I get the usual blather back about their “position”. I can’t vote them out…yet. So, what is left to force these guys to come together and do their jobs?” – Steve Cushman, Midlothian, Va.
[Ed. note: One of the beauties of the American system, Mr. Cushman, is that we delegate authority to our fellow citizens who go to the Capitol and represent our interests for a limited period of time. But what do we do when they refuse to do their work? I wish I had a better answer than the obvious one: We have to work on needed institutional reforms to address the degree to which Congress has become a failed institution.]
“Whatever happened to Conference Committees? When the Senate passed a bill that was inconsistent with a bill passed by the House each body appointed members to a committee which reached a compromise bill that could be passed by both the House and Senate. Assume the House passes a bill with no funding for a border barrier and the Senate passes a bill with $5 Billion for the border barrier. A Conference Committee of reasonable persons should be able to resolve this in short time. Alas, this assumes we have reasonable people in Congress who want to reach a compromise. Current events show this to be false assumption.” – Steve Bartlett, Greenville, S.C.
[Ed. note: But what if the president vows to veto whatever doesn’t meet his demand? And what if there were at least a dozen Republican senators from bright red states up for re-election in 2020 who were mortified at the thought of publicly defying the president? And what if House Democrats decided that the best way to keep the president tied up was to let the shutdown linger and linger? What you described is exactly how the system is supposed to work and you have also correctly identified the problem: The participants don’t want it to.]
“Chris, In the 1877 Congress neglected to pass an appropriation bill to pay the troops. For months the army drew no pay. The soldiers drew rations so they could eat but hardest hit were the officers who were dependent on their pay for food and uniforms. The situation was rectified in about 4 months. Then in the 1890s Congress actually legislated a pay cut. So they failed the troops before.” – James Ronan, Lake Wylie, S.C.
[Ed. note: I might have known that one of our noble readers would have the real story! Thanks for sharing, Mr. Ronan.]
“It is fitting that the tanker truck loaded with liquid chocolate overturn on this date, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of Boston's Great Molasses Flood.” – Silvio Cadenasso, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
[Ed. note: I love our readers! For anyone who wants to read more, click here.]
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SCATTERED, SMOTHERED, COVERED, CHUNKED & TOPPED
N.Y. Post: “A man’s attempt to sober up at a local Waffle House in Georgia fell as flat as a pancake after two employees covered him in condiments and cheese. Two employees at the iconic breakfast chain in Lithonia were fired when footage of the outrageous prank went viral after it was posted to Instagram earlier this month, WSB-TV reports. ‘As soon as I saw it, I was in awe and busted out crying,’ the man’s fiancée told the station. The man, who was not identified, did not know anyone who worked at the restaurant, where he visited on Jan. 2 while inebriated. He then passed out and at least two employees took advantage of his condition, dousing him with ketchup, salt and even a slice of American cheese. One of the employees even got behind the passed-out man and pretended that he was a puppet, video shows.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[Trump] has boasted that he could turn ‘presidential’ — respectful, respectable, reticent, reserved bordering on boring — at will. Apparently, he can’t.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the Washington Post on June 16, 2016.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.