Former Shutdown Leader Ted Cruz Claims He Has Consistently Opposed Shutdowns

In this brave new world, it’s not just the Enormously Consensual President who feels empowered to say anything at all on national television. The shamelessness has filtered down, particularly to those who had a taste for it to begin with. Enter Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who spent his last cent of shame calling voters on behalf of a candidate who publicly insulted his wife’s appearance and insinuated his father was involved in the JFK assassination. Now Cruz is freed up to really let it rip, and he did just that on MSNBC Monday:

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This whole exchange is, as his questioner—NBC’s Kacie Hunt—made clear, ridiculous. (His plug for his book, A Time for Truth, is merely the icing.) In 2013, Cruz led the charge, particularly among the more extreme House Republicans, to oppose any government funding bill that did not defund Obamacare. Obviously, President Obama and Senate Democrats—who still controlled the higher chamber—rejected the idea that their signature legislative achievement of the decade should be de facto repealed through parliamentary trickery and hostage-taking. Cruz capped off his performative opposition to funding a duly enacted piece of federal legislation by reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham on the floor of the Senate as part of a 21-hour protest speech:

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Cruz’s conductorial role was so clear that his Republican colleagues largely blamed him for the whole mess, as a Politico write-up from October 2013 makes clear:

Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it…

“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was,” said one senator who attended the meeting. “I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.” …

Many Senate Republicans publicly and privately scoffed at the Cruz tactics, arguing that he was making a false and politically damaging promise that he could use the funding bill to gut Obamacare — since the law moved forward anyway on Tuesday despite the government shutdown.

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Cruz’s shtick this time around only makes sense if you consider the vote in a complete vacuum where all that matters is whether you voted “yes” or “no.” The reason there was even a prospect of a shutdown was because of the intra-Republican insurgency Cruz spearheaded in the House. He did more than any other member of Congress to create the conditions for a shutdown. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board, a reliable GOP backer which recently told Special Counsel Robert Mueller to shove off, characterized the 2013 shutdown thusly in an editorial from this past weekend:

The government shutdown continued on Sunday as Senate Democrats imitate Republican Ted Cruz’s 2013 strategy of using government funding to force a President’s hand on an unrelated issue. Mr. Cruz wanted ObamaCare repeal while Democrats want to coerce the GOP on immigration, but the budget blackmail strategy deserves to fail again.

“Budget blackmail?” Sounds a lot like the “legislative arson” about which Speaker Paul Ryan was complaining a few days back. The kind of power politics in which the Democrats just dabbled was unquestionably introduced into the modern body politic by the Republican Party, beginning with the scorched-earth tactics of Newt Gingrich in the ’90s and culminating with the various spasms of the Tea Party—of which Cruz’s 2013 number was the coup de grace. That does not justify the Democrats’ strategy as a matter of principle. But it does justify ridiculing Ted Cruz.

Senate approves bill to end government shutdown, as Dems back down

The Senate on Monday afternoon voted 81 to 18 to re-open the government, clearing the way for the House to approve a stopgap measure and end the three-day government shutdown.

Democrats backed off their opposition after being given assurances from Republicans that the Senate would soon consider legislation that would protect illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. It was a stark contrast from the Senate Democratic position just a few days ago.

“We will vote today to reopen the government,” Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on the Senate floor. “In a few hours, the government will reopen.”

The bill heads to the House, which plans to vote on it Monday before sending it to President Trump’s desk.

The temporary spending bill keeps the government open until Feb. 8.

Earlier Monday, the Senate voted 81-18 to break a Democratic filibuster on the stalled government spending bill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., holds a news conference to talk about the Democratic victory in the Alabama special election and to discuss the Republican tax bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer faced heavy pressure to end the filibuster of a government funding measure.

 (AP)

“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders and insurance for vulnerable children,” Trump said in a written statement. 

During Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration expects the bill to make it to the president’s desk late afternoon or early evening Monday and the government to open at full capacity on Tuesday morning. 

Sanders pushed back against the notion from Democrats that Trump wasn’t doing enough behind the scenes during the shutdown. She said Trump was busy working the phones with lawmakers and Cabinet officials.

“The president was putting pressure and standing firm on exactly what he was willing to do and what he wasn’t,” Sanders said. “And it very clearly worked.”

The funding and reopening of the government would allow U.S. military personnel to be paid, end the furlough of nearly 1 million federal workers and resume all federal services and operations.

But congressional lawmakers made it clear Monday that they’re still faced with challenges, like how to fund hurricane disaster relief and craft a comprehensive immigration reform bill on which both parties can agree.

empty capitol

The Capitol Visitor Center is empty, as the government shutdown entered its third day.

“We still have a lot more work to do,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

After days and weeks of blaming and finger-pointing, a bipartisan group of senators met Sunday and brokered the deal in which rank-and-file members would provide the 60 votes in exchange for Senate leaders’ promise to immediately proceed to immigration reform.

Democrats largely had opposed the stopgap spending bill because it did not include provisions to protect the illegal immigrants from deportation under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order. Trump last year set a deadline of early March to end the protections, but has indicated he wants to provide permanent protections for the young illegal immigrants — along with border security, particularly funding for his U.S.-Mexico border walll. 

Under the apparent deal to end the filibuster, Schumer said Monday they would negotiate on immigration, and immediately consider such legislation if there’s no agreement by Feb. 8.

Schumer lauded the bipartisan group’s weekend efforts and suggested the group could lead efforts to replace DACA with permanent, legislative protections.

However, he also needled Trump, whom he said on Friday rejected his compromise plan that included money for the border wall.

“Today we enter the third day of the Trump shutdown,” Schumer said before saying they would provide the votes to get to the spending bill. Republicans call it the “Schumer Shutdown.” 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then thanked Schumer and said: “I think if we’ve learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand and would not have understood in the future. So I’m glad we’ve gotten past that.”

With Republicans having just 50 senators available to vote Monday, they needed the support of roughly a dozen Democratic senators to break the filibuster. They got 33.

The 18 senators who didn’t vote to end debate included Republican Sens. Mike Lee, of Utah, and Rand Paul, of Kentucky.

The 15 Democrats in opposition were Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both of Connecticut; Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, both of New Jersey; Catherine Cortez Masto, of Nevada; Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York; Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii; Patrick Leahy, of Vermont; Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, both of Massachusetts; Jon Tester, of Montana; Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both of Oregon; and Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, both of California. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, also voted in opposition.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain did not vote because he’s home fighting cancer.

McConnell on Sunday night indicated a deal was in the works to break the filibuster, in exchange for immediately addressing Democrats’ desire for immigration reform.

“When the Democrat filibuster of the government funding bill ends, the serious, bipartisan negotiations that have been going on for months now to resolve our unfinished business — military spending; disaster relief; health care; immigration and border security — will continue,” he said Sunday in announcing the Monday vote.

Early Monday, before the votes, the Trump White House and Capitol Hill Republicans cranked up the pressure on Democrats to abandon their immediate demands for immigration measures and vote in support of the temporary spending bill.

“They shut down the government,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “The pressure is on them.”

Trump tweeted that Democrats shut down the government to appease the “far left base” and are now “powerless” to change course.

“The Democrats are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for non-citizens. Not good!” he tweeted.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

Amid government shutdown, here are the lawmakers who didn’t receive a salary

After three days of a shutdown, lawmakers voted on Monday to end an impasse on a spending bill – paving the way for the federal government to reopen.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blamed their counterparts for the shutdown. On Monday, Democrats climb onboard the plan after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate would consider immigration proposals.  

While the government is shuttered, some lawmakers decided to forgo their paycheck or donated their salaries to charity. Here’s a look at who isn’t collecting a paycheck during the shutdown.

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.

From Pennsylvania, Rep. Lou Barletta officially asked for his pay to be withheld “until Congress has reached a funding agreement and the government is fully running again.”

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.

Blaming the Democrats for “play[ing] politics with our military and children’s health care,” Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said she would have her salary withheld during the shutdown.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

In a video posted to Twitter, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said that members of Congress should not be paid if the military is not during the shutdown. She signed a letter asking for her paycheck to be withheld.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced legislation that would make sure military service members would be paid during the shutdown instead of lawmakers.

Brown also said he was donating his paychecks during the shutdown to an Ohio diaper bank, citing the lapse of federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) while Congress continues to fight over a spending bill.

“Senators should not be paid if they can’t do their jobs,” Brown said.

Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.

Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., asked for his pay to be withheld during the shutdown, according to WPMI-TV.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.

A Republican from Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman formally asked for his pay to be withheld as the government remains shuttered.

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va.

Blaming the Democrats for the shutdown, Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., asked for her pay to be withheld until the government reopens.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.

From Florida, Rep. Carlos Curbelo said he would donate his salary to TheDream.us during the shutdown. The organization, he said, helps Dreamers pursue higher education.

Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.

Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., said he would donate his paycheck during the shutdown to the Mercy Health Clinic, a nonprofit community clinic in Maryland that services low-income people.

Rep. Daniel Donovan, R-N.Y.

Saying that “men and women in uniform” should not be treated differently than “members of Congress and Senators,” Rep. Daniel Donovan, R-N.Y., requested that his pay be withheld during the shutdown. He encouraged his colleagues on the other side of the aisle to forgo their paychecks as well since “Senate Democrats blocked a funding bill” last week.

In announcing his decision about his paycheck, Donovan said, “I never have and never will vote to shut down our government.”

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.

Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said she will not “accept one penny” of her salary as the government remains shut down.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is returning her salary during the government shutdown, a spokesman confirmed to Fox News.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said, “The failure to pass a year-long budget, and allowing the government to shutdown, while playing political football with issues of humanity is inexcusable.” She said she will not accept a paycheck during the shutdown.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., asked for his pay to be withheld during the shutdown, saying if “our troops and first responders aren’t getting paid,” then congressional lawmakers shouldn’t either.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii

According to a press release from Gabbard’s office, fellow Democratic Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa will also refuse to take a paycheck.

“If we cannot work together through the regular order to keep the government funded and functioning then we should put our salaries to good use supporting causes that help people and nurture the communities who need it most,” she said. “I intend to donate the salary I earn during the period that the government is shut down to charity.”

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., said he will donate his paycheck to pregnancy centers in his district during the shutdown.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Along with other Democratic senators, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp introduced legislation that would withhold the pay of congressional lawmakers during a government shutdown.

“Hard working North Dakotans like our farmers and ranchers do everything they can to support their families and makes ends meet. If they don’t get the job done in the field, they don’t get paid, and the same should be true for their representatives in Congress,” Heitkamp said in a statement.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is donating his salary to the North Dakota National Guard Foundation, a spokeswoman told Fox News.

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, said he has asked for his paycheck to be withheld during the shutdown.

“There’s no good reason why Members should receive pay during a [shutdown] while [federal] employees suffer,” Hurd said.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas asked for her pay to be withheld during the shutdown.

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio

Citing military personnel who will not be receiving their paychecks during the shutdown, Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, asked for his salary to be withheld.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, has requested that her paycheck be withheld during the shutdown.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J.

From New Jersey, Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur asked for his paycheck to be withheld during the government shutdown.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y.

“Until our military gets paid, I won’t get paid,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y. He formally requested that his pay be withheld during the shutdown.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V.

Along with some of his Democratic colleagues, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., introduced legislation that would withhold pay from members of Congress during the shutdown.

“In West Virginia, we know that when you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid. If Congress can’t come together to fulfil one of our most basic constitutional obligations, then we don’t deserve to get paid either,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was one of a few Democrats who co-sponsored legislation that would withhold pay for members of Congress during the shutdown.

“If members of Congress can’t figure this out and keep the government open, then none of us should get paid,” McCaskill said. She is reportedly donating her salary to charity.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.

Ahead of the shutdown, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., promised to return her salary.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C.

On Twitter, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said he “forfeited” his pay during the shutdown.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

As he did in 2013, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, will donate his salary to charity during the shutdown, WJW-TV reported.

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., asked for his pay to be withheld during the shutdown. He said he also co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit his fellow lawmakers from receiving a paycheck during a government shutdown.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will donate her salary every day of the government shutdown, she told WZZM-TV. She also reportedly supported legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from being paid during shutdowns.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

“Members of Congress should live by the same laws as our constituents,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., in announcing she would forgo her pay during the shutdown.

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va.

A former Navy SEAL, Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., announced that he would donate his salary during the shutdown to military and veterans’ charities daily.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said he would forgo his paycheck during the government shutdown, saying it’s the “least” he could do as the 100,000 active duty service members in North Carolina would not be paid.  

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., asked for his salary to be withheld during the government shutdown.

“If my constituents are feeling this pain, Members of Congress should as well,” he said in a tweet.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.

In a statement, Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said he would donate his salary to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation during the government shutdown.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., formally asked for his paycheck to be withheld during the government shutdown. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg shocks Sundance crowd with her own #MeToo story

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has three words for the women who shared their stories of abuse to spark the #MeToo movement: “It’s about time.”

Before Ginsburg slipped on her iconic judicial robe, the 84-year-old feminist from Brooklyn confessed she had her own brush with sexual harassment and gender inequality.

“Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn’t have a name for it,” Ginsburg told a crowd during a forum to promote her new documentary “RBG” at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Sunday. “The attitude toward sexual harassment was simply, ‘Get past it. Boys will be boys.’”

Clutching a microphone between both hands, Ginsburg told NPR legal correspondent and longtime friend Nina Totenberg, who was leading the discussion, about an incident that allegedly occurred when she was a law student at Cornell University in the early 1950s.

She shared concerns with her chemistry instructor over her “abilities” ahead of a big test. The teacher comforted her and told her he’d give her a practice exam to make her more comfortable with the material.

“The next day – on the test – the test is the practice exam. And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” Ginsburg said. “That’s just one of many examples.”

Ginsburg didn’t just ignore the professor’s inappropriate gesture, she said. After the exam, Ginsburg walked straight up to the instructor and allegedly confronted him.

“I went to his office and I said, ‘How dare you! How dare you, you –“ Ginsburg said. “And that was the end of that.”

When Ginsburg began teaching at Rutgers Law School in 1964 she said that she quickly realized she was being treated differently than her male colleagues.

Since Rutgers was a state school, Ginsburg knew she’d be taking a pay cut — but when the dean told her how much of a cut, she was astonished. She asked how much a male colleague who had been out of law school about the same amount of time of her was being paid.

“Ruth, he has a wife and two children to support. You have a husband with a good paying job in New York,” the dean responded.

“That was the very year the Equal Pay Act had passed,” Ginsburg said. “That was the answer that I got.”

In response to the dean’s remarks, a group of women employed at Rutgers worked together to file an Equal Pay Act complaint, which the university later settled.

Ginsburg recalled another example of gender inequality in 1972 when she was a professor at Columbia University. A feminist told her the school issued lay-off notices to 25 women in the maintenance department, but not a single man received a notice.

“And she said to me, ‘What are you going to do about it?'” Ginsburg recalled.

Ginsburg told the university’s vice president for business’ office the school was violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, national origin, race, color or sex.

Columbia eventually found a way to avoid laying off anyone, Ginsburg said.

A lot has changed since then, Ginsburg explained, as she shared her final thoughts on the #MeToo movement that’s sweeping the nation.

“For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it,” Ginsburg said. “But now the law is on the side of women or men who encounter harassment, and that’s a good thing.”

Right now, Ginsburg said she’s not concerned about the potential backlash the #MeToo movement might cause women.

“Let’s see where it goes. So far, its been great,” Ginsburg said. “But when I see women appearing every place, in numbers, I’m less worried about backlash than I might have been 20 years ago.”

Pennsylvania’s Congressional Map and the Gerrymandering Tipping Point

There certainly is a lot of white noise drowning out other news and some of the most important of that news involves the pushback against the conservative war against the franchise. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In a split decision, the seven-member panel sided with a group of voters who contended the state’s 18 U.S. House of Representatives districts were drawn as an unconstitutional gerrymander that discriminates against Democrats. The justices ordered the Republican-led legislature draw up a new map immediately, a move almost certainly to upend the political and campaign structure just months before the primary election… The ruling is the latest legal affirmation of partisan gerrymandering — where political maps are drawn to favor one party at the expense of another — amid a wave of scrutiny on the issue across the nation. A number of lawsuits have sought to get maps redrawn in several states, and the U.S. Supreme Court is considering partisan gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Baltimore. Earlier this month, a federal court struck down North Carolina’s congressional map, the first time a federal court has found a congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. In Pennsylvania, Republicans have consistently won the same 13 of 18 U.S. House seats, even as votes in the state remain about evenly split between the two parties.

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The significant point in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s hammer blow decision is the fact that the court pretty plainly has had enough of that state’s legislature. It mandates that the legislature come up with a new map by February 9 for primary elections to be held in May. And, because the state supreme court based its ruling on the state constitution, any attempt by Pennsylvania Republicans to appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court for the kind of stay that SCOTUS imposed on the North Carolina gerrymandering case last week is probably foreclosed.

It is increasingly clear at least that the issue of partisan gerrymandering is going to have a definitive resolution sometime in the next year. The courts—both state and federal—are fed up with it.

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Pennsylvania court throws out congressional boundaries

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map Monday, granting a major victory to Democrats who charged that the 18 districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.

The Democratic-controlled court, which said that the districts violate the state constitution, gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until Feb. 15 to submit it to the court.  Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track.

The court said the boundaries “clearly, plainly and palpably” violate the state’s constitution, and blocked it from remaining in effect for the 2018 elections. The deadline to file paperwork to run in primaries for the state’s congressional seats is March 6.

The defendants — top Republican lawmakers — said they were outraged by the decision. They said it lacks clarity and respect for the constitution, and that they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and halt the decision.

Republicans who controlled the Legislature and governor’s office following the 2010 census broke decades of geographical precedent when redrawing the map, producing contorted shapes, including one dubbed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.”

They shifted whole counties and cities into different districts in an effort to protect a Republican advantage in the congressional delegation. They succeeded, securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 5 to 4.

“We won the whole thing,” said David Gersch of the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm in Washington, D.C., which is helping represent the group of registered Democrats who filed the lawsuit last June.

The decision has immediate implications for the 2018 election, meaning that 14 sitting members of Congress and dozens more people are running or considering running in districts they may no longer live in.

The March 13 special election in a vacant southwestern Pennsylvania seat is unaffected by the order, the justices said.

The U.S. Supreme Court also is weighing whether redistricting can be so partisan that it violates the U.S. Constitution, in cases from Maryland and Wisconsin. The high court has never struck down an electoral map as a partisan gerrymander.

Can Mitch McConnell Be Trusted on His Government Shutdown Promises?

Virtually within seconds of the end of Senator Chuck Schumer’s speech announcing that enough members of his Democratic minority will vote for a bill aimed at re-opening the federal government, a concession based entirely on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “intention” to bring something to a vote that will address the situation of the DACA recipients, McConnell was back to referring to said recipients as “illegal immigrants.” My confidence in McConnell’s good faith was, of course, shaken to its core.

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Not to harsh the mellow of Susan Collins, but it’s going to be very interesting to see exactly when this whole thing falls apart. (The same goes for Senator Joe Manchin, whose “tough-guy moderate” act is getting older than the Appalachians. Who precisely belongs to what Manchin refers to as “the far-left” of his party that so pressured him? Almost a million Dreamers who are still in limbo?) President John Kelly or co-President Stephen Miller could step in and put the kibosh on it. The Freedom Caucus whackadoos in the House could yank on the choke-collar they have on Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin. Or Mitch McConnell simply could be bullshitting the entire nation, again. (I’m going to wait to hear Merrick Garland’s opinion on that one before making any final judgment.) My money remains on the insane monkey asylum on the other side of the Capitol. Those people could screw up a one-car funeral if you spotted them the hearse, and they have a dozen ways to feed this arrangement into the woodchipper.

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And what, then, will Collins do if McConnell reneges on her, or if he arranges that the Senate majority reneges on his behalf, as he’s already done to her on other issues? What will Manchin do if the nominal president* changes his mind 111 times in the next week and ends up on the wrong side of this deal? What will the entire “bipartisan moderate” caucus do if the Freedom Caucus deranges the House even further than it does on a daily basis? The answer is, none of those people can do anything, even if they wanted to. The best answer on offer is the one offered up by Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona: that if the deal works in the best way it can, the Senate will “send something to the White House.” If I were a 19-year-old Salvadoran DACA beneficiary trying to decide whether to apply to medical school in 2019, this would not reassure me in the least.

There are other issues in play. If this bill passes, CHIP will be financed for the next six years, and that’s a very good thing. The military will get its money, and a lot of people will be mollified by that, I guess. (Also, the campaign talking point that the Democrats are stealing money from Our Troops to give it to the various branches of MS-13 is somewhat blunted. Golf clap. They’re going to use it anyway.) And, depending on your relative innate optimism, Schumer and the Democrats didn’t give up much at all but, rather, decided to live to fight in February on funding the government, and to fight on DACA in March. But, for me, McConnell is a rare combination of being ruthless and being truthless, and the House has lost its mind, and the president* has disappeared. And, these days, my innate optimism is not exactly brimming.

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What gives me pause is what I saw and heard over the weekend and on Monday. A political party that wants to eliminate entire Cabinet departments defended a president* whose administration* has refused to staff vital positions all over the government by weeping crocodile tears over the plight of furloughed federal employees. And Tailgunner Ted Cruz, cornered in the basement of some Senate office building, insisting that he always has opposed government shutdowns. (I thought Kasie Hunt of MSNBC was going to be orbiting Mars by the time that little episode ended.) The truth is not in these people because, given the nature of their political base, and given the essential political immorality of their donor class, it hasn’t had to be for a very long time.

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So, I’m not going to scream, “Sellout!” nor sing “Kumbaya.” I am just going to sum up the state of play in three questions.

Do you trust a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think Paul Ryan can be trusted to control his caucus sufficiently to pass a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think the president* can be trusted to sign a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Your mileage may certainly vary.

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Republicans hope to release ‘jaw-dropping’ memo on surveillance abuses

House Republicans are hopeful that a four-page memo allegedly containing “jaw-dropping” revelations about U.S. government surveillance abuses will soon be made public.

Rep. Dave Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, told Fox News on Monday that the intelligence committee plans to work on releasing the document but warned that once Americans see it, they’ll “be surprised how bad it is.”

The process of releasing the memo could take up to 19 congressional working days which puts its release around mid-March. The document’s release would first need approval from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who can decide to bring the committee back together for a vote. If the majority of the committee votes to release the memo, it would then be up to President Trump.

If he says yes, the memo can be released.

Joyce said he’s personally read the memo twice and “it was deeply disturbing as anyone who’s been in law enforcement and any American will find out once they have the opportunity to review it.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. is pursued by reporters as he arrives for a weekly meeting of the Republican Conference with House Speaker Paul Ryan and the GOP leadership, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Nunes is facing growing calls to step away from the panel's Russia investigation as revelations about a secret source meeting on White House grounds raised questions about his and the panel's independence. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, R-Calif., could move to release a key memo on alleged surveillance abuses.

 (AP)

Joyce and a handful of other conservatives have been pushing for the memo to be made public. They have suggested that it contains damning evidence the Obama administration used FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants to spy on the Trump campaign as well as his transition team ahead of the president’s swearing-in. 

GOP LAWMAKERS DEMAND RELEASE OF FISA MEMO

A FISA warrant allows U.S. spy agencies to collect information on foreigners outside the country and was reauthorized by Congress earlier this month.

‘It was deeply disturbing.’

– Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, on viewing the surveillance memo

Obama officials have strongly denied the claims.  

Democratic lawmakers argue the Republican uproar over the memo is a last-ditch attempt by conservatives to discredit the Russia investigation and cast doubt on the people who are running it.

California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff has called the memo “a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation.”

He said it’s riddled with factual inaccuracies and said it gives a “distorted view of the FBI.”

But Joyce has hinted that the memo was so scandalous that “termination would be the least of these people’s worries” and suggested that some of the people involved might even be “prosecuted.”

The report was spearheaded by Nunes.

Over the weekend, Nunes met with Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to discuss the possibility of releasing some of the information from the classified document.

Calls from Republicans to release the memo have been intensifying in recent days.

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who has called the memo “jaw-dropping,” is demanding “full transparency.”

“The House must immediately make public the memo prepared by the Intelligence Committee regarding the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Gaetz said.

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows described the memo as “shocking” and “troubling.”

“Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much,” he added.

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania stated bluntly, “You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is.”

Questions grow over FBI’s missing Strzok-Page text messages

Lawmakers are pressing for answers after revelations that the FBI “failed to preserve” five months of texts between two bureau officials under fire for exchanging anti-Trump messages during the 2016 election. 

The missing messages from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page span a crucial window, between the presidential transition and the launch of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — where both officials previously were assigned. 

“We need to get to the bottom of it and find out what exactly happened,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Monday on Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime.” 

The Justice Department acknowledged the lapse in records in turning over 384 pages of new text messages between Strzok and Page, who were romantically involved, to congressional committees.

The DOJ blamed a technical glitch for the gap. 

“The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page from December 14, 2016 to approximately May 17, 2017,” Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd wrote to Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

“The FBI has informed [the Department of Justice] that many FBI-provided Samsung 5 mobile devices did not capture or store text messages due to misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”

When asked Monday whether the FBI “failed to preserve” text message records on similar “Samsung 5” devices belonging to any other FBI officials during that time period, the FBI told Fox News they had “no comment.”

A Justice Department spokesperson told Fox News that the Department’s Office of Inspector General also does not have any text messages between the two during that time period.

An OIG spokesperson declined to comment. 

StrzokPageSplit

“The claim that five months of critical evidence went missing due to a technical glitch is really hard to take at face value,” a source from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told Fox News on Monday, leaving the door open for that committee to also launch a formal inquiry with the FBI.

NEWLY RELEASED TEXTS BETWEEN EX-MUELLER TEAM MEMBERS SUGGEST THEY KNEW OUTCOME OF CLINTON EMAIL PROBE IN ADVANCE

During the window of missing text messages, a lot happened.

President Trump took the oath of office; National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom Strzok interviewed, was fired; the controversial anti-Trump dossier was published; the president fired FBI Director James Comey; and special counsel Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election.

“The loss of records from this period is concerning because it is apparent from other records that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page communicated frequently about the investigation,” Johnson wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray over the weekend, requesting more information and questioning whether the FBI had done a thorough search on non-FBI devices belonging to Strzok and Page during that period.

A source on one committee in receipt of the new text messages told Fox News it was “outrageous” that the FBI had not previously indicated the five-month gap in messages existed. The source said it was incumbent on the FBI to prove that the missing texts do not constitute “obstruction” of congressional oversight or “destruction of evidence.”

Last month, the Justice Department released hundreds of text messages that Strzok and Page had traded. Both served for a short period of time on Mueller’s team, with Page leaving over the summer and Strzok being reassigned late last year to the FBI’s human resources division after the discovery of the exchanges with Page. 

Many of the texts revealed a clear anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias, and included discussions of the Clinton email investigation.

Rep. Jordan said Monday that the lapse in documents is reminiscent of the mysterious disappearance of emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner during the Obama-era IRS/Tea Party targeting scandal.

Lerner’s emails disappeared during congressional investigations.

“The Lerner thing was huge,” Jordan told The Daily Caller. “My gut tells me this is probably bigger.”

And Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said the need for a second special counsel was “abundantly clear now.”

“Unreal. We’ve been asking for the remaining text messages between anti-Trump FBI agents (and former Mueller team members), Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The FBI now says the texts are ‘missing,’” Meadows tweeted on Sunday. “If it wasn’t already clear we need a second special counsel, it’s abundantly clear now.”

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Senate breaks Dem filibuster, clearing way to end government shutdown

The Senate on Monday voted 81-18 to break a Democratic filibuster on a government spending bill, clearing the way for Congress to approve the stopgap measure and end the three-day government shutdown. 

The Senate still has to vote on the bill itself, which the House would have to consider next. But the show of support early Monday afternoon virtually guarantees it will pass. The measure would fund the government through Feb. 8. 

Democrats effectively backed off their opposition, after being given assurances from majority Republicans. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced on the floor ahead of the procedural vote that they’d reached an agreement. He said it comes with a commitment to negotiate on immigration, and immediately consider such legislation if there’s no agreement by Feb. 8.

The Trump White House and Capitol Hill Republicans had cranked up the pressure earlier Monday on Democrats to abandon their immediate demands for immigration measures and vote in support of the temporary spending bill.

“They shut down the government,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “The pressure is on them.”

President Trump tweeted that Democrats shut down the government to appease the “far left base” and are now “powerless” to change course.

“The Democrats are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for non-citizens. Not good!” he tweeted.

The vote was the GOP-controlled Senate’s second attempt to break the filibuster, after failing to get the required 60 votes Friday. Republicans have a 51-49 member majority in the Senate. The Friday night vote was 50-49.

Democrats mostly withheld their votes in an attempt to force Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress to include protections for illegal immigrants brought into the United States as children.

Trump will in early March formally end deportation protections provided to the estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants now protected by former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order.

Trump has said he wants comprehensive immigration reform but that border security, particularly a U.S.-Mexico border wall, should be included in the plan.

empty capitol

The Capitol Visitor Center is empty, as the government shutdown enters its third day.

Schumer, D-N.Y., argued again Sunday that he offered a compromise immigration plan to Trump to avoid a shutdown, including billions for his must-have wall.

“On Friday in the Oval Office, I made what I thought was a very generous offer to the president, the most generous offer yet,” Schumer said Sunday on the Senate floor. “The president must take yes for an answer. Until he does, it’s the Trump Shutdown.”  

Republicans are adamant this is the “Schumer Shutdown.” 

While the Democrats’ move appeals to their liberal base, they have faced backlash for forcing the shutdown, considering U.S. military personnel and nearly 1 million other federal employees will be furloughed and not receive pay until the government reopens.  

Five Democratic senators voted Friday to end the filibuster: Sens. Doug Jones, of Alabama; John Donnelly, of Indiana; Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota; Joe Manchin, of West Virginia; and Claire McCaskill, of Missouri. They all face 2018 reelection in states that Trump won in 2016.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.