Thursday morning news: January 3, 2019


Shutdown enters day 13 as talks yield no progress » Lawmakers met with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday, but Democrats did not budge on funding the president demands for a border wall. Nor was the president willing to abandon his pursuit of a wall, as Democrats demand.

They’ll try again on Friday. In the meantime, the partial government shutdown enters day 13 today.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was among the Republican leaders at the meeting.

MCCARTHY: We were hopeful that we could get more of the negotiation. I know the vice president had sat down with Senator Schumer, had worked to try to come to an agreement, find common ground. I had hoped we would get a little more of that today. Hopefully Friday we’ll be able to get there.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer meanwhile said the White House should agree to stopgap legislation to reopen the government before Friday.  

SCHUMER: We would urge them, respectfully, to reconsider and support these bills, which are bipartisan, one of which Mitch McConnell proposed — open up the government as we continue to debate what is the best way to secure our border. 


116th Congress convenes today » Nancy Pelosi was also in on that meeting. She said Democrats will introduce a bill to end the shutdown.

PELOSI: Tomorrow we will bring to the floor legislation which will open up government. It will be based on actions taken by the Republican Senate. 

Pelosi is all but certain to reclaim the speaker’s gavel as Democrats take control of the House today.

As the 116th congress officially convenes, Democrats will enjoy a 236-seat majority to Republicans’ 196 seats.

Meanwhile in the Senate, the GOP will add to its majority—seating 3 new senators for a total of 53.


Border patrol agents clash with migrants » U.S. Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at about 150 migrants at the border crossing between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego Tuesday. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that the tear gas targeted migrants throwing rocks.

Rodney Scott, the chief border patrol agent for the San Diego sector told reporters…  

SCOTT: One agent was hit square in the face with a rock. Fortunately he had his helmet and shield on and was not seriously injured. 

In a statement the border patrol said “No agents witnessed any of the migrants at the fence line, including children, experiencing effects of the chemical agents.”

Officials detained 25 migrants while others escaped back into Mexico through a hole in the fence. The agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility will review the incident under its use of force policy.


U.S. consular officials granted access to American accused of spying in Russia » The Russian government on Wednesday allowed an American citizen held on espionage charges to talk with U.S. officials seeking answers about his arrest.

U.S. consular officials were granted access to Michigan resident Paul Whelan for the first time since his arrest on Friday. The Russian Federal Security Service said Whelan was caught “during an espionage operation,” but gave no details.

David Whelan said his brother was in Moscow to attend a wedding when he disappeared and is innocent.

WHELAN: My brother’s not a spy. Paul’s background is in law enforcement. He has military experience. He’s in corporate security.

The Marine Corps on Wednesday released details of Whelan’s service record. He served in the Marine Corps Reserves from 1994 to 2008 but was convicted of larceny in a special court-martial in January of 2008. The Marine Corps did not immediately provide details of the conviction.


Chinese president says Taiwan must reunite with China » Chinese President Xi Jinping says Taiwan must reunite with China—adding that he would like it to happen peacefully, but he won’t rule out using force. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: President Xi said Wednesday that independence for Taiwan is not an option. He said—quote—“We are willing to create a vast space for peaceful unification, but we will never leave any room for any sort of Taiwan independence separatist activities.”

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen rejected Xi’s “one country, two systems” proposal. That would leave Taiwan as part of China but with a degree of autonomy, similar to the arrangement with the territory of Hong Kong after it rejoined the country in the late 1990s.

Tsai has consistently refused to endorse any designation of Taiwan as part of China. She said her country is willing to talk but that the Taiwanese people must approve any changes.

Taiwan has been politically separate from China since the Communist Party came to power during the civil war in 1949 when the Nationalists set up their own government on the island.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.


(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters as he returns to the Capitol from a meeting with President Donald Trump about border security and ending the partial government shutdown, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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