Alabama Dem Doug Jones votes with GOP on spending bill to avoid shutdown

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Newly elected Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, in his most high-profile vote since taking office, was one of five Democratic senators to vote overnight with Republicans on a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Jones’ election to the Senate last month marked the first time in 25 years that Alabama voters picked a Democratic senator.

The election results sparked much political speculation about whether Jones would vote with Republicans or fellow Democrats, considering that Alabama is one of the country’s most conservative-leaning states and gave President Trump more than 62 percent of its vote in 2016.

While Jones’ vote this weekend might suggest an intent to represent his electorate or win a 2020 re-election, he made clear from the start of his improbable special-election win that his top priority upon arriving on Capitol Hill would be to keep alive the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which the GOP spending bill did for several years.

“Because of CHIP and the many families in Alabama and around our country that would be put in jeopardy by a government shutdown, I felt compelled to vote yes,” Jones said in a statement posted on his Twitter account. – READ MORE

The Democrats may not be able to escape the blame for the government shutdown after all. The New York Times, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press have all laid the blame at the feet of the Democratic Party.

“U.S. Shutdown Starts as Senate Democrats Block GOP Funding Plan,” read a Bloomberg headline Saturday, according to the Daily Caller. The Times and AP ran similar headlines.

“A group of mostly Senate Democrats filibustered a Republican bill to fund the government Friday night, and the government is now officially in a shutdown,” began a report at the liberal Slate.

In short, it’s hard to blame the shutdown on the GOP when the Democrats filibustered the spending bill in the Senate. The White House has officially dubbed it the “Schumer Shutdown.”

“Senate Democrat Block Bill to Keep Government Open Past Midnight, Shutdown Looms,” an early Saturday morning New York Times headline read, according to the Daily Caller. The AP reported that “Senate Democrats derail bill to avert shutdown.” – READ MORE

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a scathing statement blaming Senate Democrats for forcing a government shutdown early Saturday morning.

“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans,” Sanders said in a statement. “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.”

Democratic lawmakers forced a shutdown amidst frustration over lack of progress in reaching a deal to protect illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors. White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short however told reporters Friday there were no specific demands of bill text to negotiate over the shutdown saying it was more about “politics, not policy.”READ MORE

Members of Congress are still collecting paychecks during the government shutdown while lower-wage federal workers will go without pay.

Article I, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution allows the lawmakers to still get paid their salaries, despite the federal government being shutdown due to their inability to reach an agreement.

A handful of Democrats from Trump-won states during the 2016 election introduced a bill Friday afternoon, hours ahead of the looming shutdown, which would do away with salaries for lawmakers during the period of time the government is officially closed.

“It’s wrong that members of Congress would still get paid in the event of a shutdown while paychecks for members of our military could be disrupted,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat. “This bill ensures members of Congress will not get paid and another bill I have cosponsored makes sure our troops will.” – READ MORE

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in 2013 “it would be governmental chaos” if the Democrats shut down the government in order to give amnesty to illegal aliens.

During an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Schumer mocked the idea that Democrats would ever try to shut down the federal government unless millions of illegal aliens were given amnesty.

SCHUMER: Speaker Boehner comes in and he says basically… it’s sort of like this: Someone goes into your house, takes your wife and children hostage and then says ‘Let’s negotiate over the price of your house.’

You know we could do the same thing on immigration. We believe strongly in immigration reform. We could say ‘We’re shutting down the government. We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling until you pass immigration reform.’ It would be governmental chaos.  – READ MORE

That’s because there is literally nothing that Republicans could currently offer, beyond a full-scale cave to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) demands, that would earn his support. And Democrats have openly stated that even if Republicans had 51 votes, they would filibuster the continuing resolution.

First offer from Republicans: Let’s fund the government and pass a DREAM amnesty, as both sides want to do, and in return you give us some concessions on chain migration and the wall. Republicans have no choice but to use DREAM as leverage for those concessions despite their support for the policy because Democrats are incredibly reluctantto tighten admission policies under the best of circumstances. So how about a little something in return for DREAM, in the name of compromise? Nope, says Schumer. Won’t do it. We’ll give you a few billion in mad money for border improvements but we’re not doing anything that might move the U.S. towards skills-based criteria for immigrants and away from “bring the whole family!” policies.

Second offer from Republicans: Okay, since we’re stuck on a DREAM deal, let’s table the whole immigration issue for now and instead agree to fund the government and extend CHIP long-term, as both sides want to do. We’ll come back to DREAM afterwards when we’re not facing a hard deadline. Nope, says Schumer. Won’t do it. The amnesty fanatics in my base refuse to let us sign on to any funding deal that doesn’t include DREAM. Even though not only is DACA still in effect, the feds are letting enrollees renew their enrollments.

Third offer from Republicans: Okay, since Democrats are hung up on amnesty and worried about voting for a bill that doesn’t include it, let’s temporarily change the rules so that they don’t have to vote for the bill at all. Last night McConnell asked for unanimous consent from the Senate to let Republicans pass a funding bill with 50 votes instead of the 60 that the filibuster requires. It’s not at all certain that he has even 50 votes right now, but he was willing to take full responsibility for the bill’s passage via his caucus alone. If he found the votes he needed, the government would stay open without any Democratic assent to the DREAM-less bill. Nope, said Schumer. Won’t do it. He objected to the motion for unanimous consent.McConnell still needs 60, all but ensuring a shutdown. – READ MORE

The federal government shutdown is a gift from Democrats, President Trump joked amid a string of early Saturday tweets, pinning blame for the stalemate on Democrats and pushing for more Republicans to be elected.

“Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead. #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!” he tweeted at 6:17 a.m.

He followed up with a joke on the first anniversary of his inauguration.

“This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown,” he tweeted at 6:33 a.m.

The tweets continued, with Trump citing the midterm elections as crucial for his party’s success. – READ MORE

President Trump has reportedly canceled his weekend trip and fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago to meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to avoid a government shutdown.

But he told reporters yesterday that he knows why Democrats would want to shut the government down.

Trump told reporters that Democrats want to “blunt” the good news about the economy by changing the subject:

“You see what happened yesterday, Apple and now it was just announced that they’re giving each employee a lot of money … I’m sure the Democrats would like to blunt that by shutting down government.”READ MORE

The U.S. stock market has added nearly $6.9 trillion in market cap since President Donald Trump was elected, already close to half of what was added in all eight years of President Barack Obama‘s tenure.

The market cap, based on the Russell 3000, surpassed $30 trillion for the first time last week and was at $30.6 trillion Thursday, according to Bespoke.

“I think the performance in the first year has exceeded almost everybody’s expectations,” said Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke. Hickey uses the Russell 3000 to measure overall market cap, since it represents about 98 percent of all U.S. stocks.

When Trump was elected, stocks rose out of the gate after an initial late-night collapse in futures prices. After that, the market rewarded stocks and sectors that would benefit from the “Trump trade” and Trump’s pro-growth policies.

The Trump trade occasionally stalled out when it looked as though tax reform was unlikely, but since the legislation began seriously moving forward and finally became law at the end of last year, the market has been on a tear. The S&P 500 has added 4.6 percent just since the start of this year, after last year’s near 20 percent move. – READ MORE

Donald Trump lifted the Dow Jones industrial average in his first year in office more than any other president since Franklin Roosevelt.

The Dow has surged more than 31 percent since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. That marks the index’s best performance during a president’s first year since Roosevelt. The Dow skyrocketed 96.5 percent during Roosevelt’s first year in office.

“This is all about policy,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. “You’ve got lower taxes, less regulation and confidence in the economy is high. Things are firing on all cylinders.”

Trump quickly moved to cut regulations enacted by previous administrations. He also successfully pushed to overhaul the U.S. tax code. That revamp included slashing the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

The president made it to the White House saying he would “put America first.” Since taking office, Trump has pushed to have companies bring back jobs to the U.S. and has said repeatedly said his policies would help to accomplish this. – READ MORE

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