Lawmakers face deadline to avoid a second partial government shutdown » The partial government shutdown is over but the shutdown threat is not.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that lawmakers asked for time to negotiate with the government open. And the president said…
MULVANEY: Let’s give it a shot and see if over the next three weeks we can do this the right way and pass legislation to fund the government and secure the border.
The stopgap measure the president signed on Friday gives lawmakers until February 15th to come together on a long-term funding bill to avoid another shutdown. The White House says any legislation must include funds for a barrier on the southern border.
Many Democrats say they’re not opposed to including fencing as part of the solution but stress that most illegal drugs pass through checkpoints. Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee:
KILDEE: We’re open and will continue to support effective border security, which would include fencing and barriers where appropriate, but also, hopefully, we’ll focus much more attention on those issues that relate to our ports of entry.
Democrats also oppose making major changes to U.S. asylum law, which were included in a recent Republican Senate bill.
GOP Florida Senator Marco Rubio said lawmakers have an opportunity to accomplish much more than simply avoiding another shutdown.
RUBIO: I truly believe that if the president can get strong border security that satisfies what he wants, it unlocks the opportunity to do other things on immigration that we need to do, like figure out something reasonable with the people that are not criminals that have been here for a long time.
Meantime, the government is cutting checks, including back pay, to federal workers who missed paychecks during the shutdown. The White House says when those workers receive their pay will depend on which payroll provider covers their agency, but everyone should receive their pay by the end of the week.
Roger Stone speaks out following indictment » Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone hit the airwaves on Sunday to defend himself two days after he was indicted in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Stone pushed back against accusations that he worked with Russian government actors to release tens of thousands of stolen documents. Those files came from the email accounts of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
STONE: I never received any stolen or hacked material and handed it to anyone. All I did was take publicly available information and try to hype it to get it as much attention as possible, because I had a tip the information was politically significant, and it would come in October.
He faces multiple charges, including bearing false witness before the House Intelligence Committee. Stone said any oversight during his testimony was neither intentional nor significant.
STONE: I am human, and I did make some errors. But they’re errors that would be inconsequential.
Stone said “there is certainly no conspiracy with Russia.” And he called his indictment “fabricated.”
Power struggle continues in Venezuela » The struggle for control of Venezuela turned to the military Sunday. Supporters of Venezuelan Parliament leader Juan Guaido handed leaflets to soldiers detailing a proposed amnesty law that would protect them if they helped remove Nicolas Maduro from power.
The UN Security Council held a meeting over the weekend to discuss the crisis in Venezuela. As nations take sides in the power struggle, UN Undersecretary General Rosemary Dicarlo said the goal must be a peaceful resolution.
DICARLO: We must do all we can to prevent a worsening of tensions. And we must try to bring about a political solution that will allow the country’s citizens to enjoy peace, prosperity and all their human rights.
The U.S. and many Western nations back Guaido’s claim to the presidency, while Russia remains allied with Maduro. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia, heard here through an interpreter, said Maduro’s regime does not represent a threat to peace.
NEBENZIA: If anything does represent a threat to peace, it is the shameless and aggressive actions of the United States and their allies aimed at the ouster of the legitimately elected president of Venezuela.
Maduro’s re-election victory last year was widely viewed as fraudulent.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired back…
POMPEO: It’s not a surprise that those who rule without democracy in their own countries are trying to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straights.
Maduro backtracked over the weekend from his order for U.S. Embassy personnel to leave the country. But that was only after the United States ignored his demand. Since the U.S. now recognizes Guaido as president, it ignored Maduro’s order.
On Friday, the Trump administration brought in a new “point person” to oversee U.S. efforts in the country, naming veteran diplomat Elliott Abrams special envoy for Venezuela.
Rescue crews continue search following dam collapse in Brazil » Brazilian officials on Sunday resumed the search for hundreds of missing people in the wake of a massive dam collapse in southeastern part of the country. Rescue crews returned to mud-covered areas after the search was called off for several hours over fears that a second dam might give way.
On Sunday, authorities lowered the confirmed death toll from 40 to 37. They offered no explanation for the revision. But that number is expected to rise once again as rescue and recovery teams comb the hardest hit areas.
The dam, which held back mining waste, collapsed on Friday sending a river of reddish-brown sludge into nearby communities.