Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 5, 2019

Bonnie Kristian
President Trump speaks to the media after a meeting with Congressional leaders about ending the partial government shutdown, in the Rose Garden at the White House on January 4, 2019.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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Trump suggests yearlong shutdown or state of emergency to obtain border wall funding

President Trump at a press conference Friday confirmed telling congressional Democrats he would be willing to continue the partial government shutdown for "months or even years" to get $5 billion in border wall funding. He "may" declare a state of emergency to build the wall without congressional approval if negotiations continue to be fruitless, Trump said, suggesting he can use the "military version of eminent domain" to seize private land for wall construction. Trump also claimed the nearly 800,000 government employees currently missing paychecks won't mind because "they'd say, 'Mr. President, keep going, this is far more important.'" [The Washington Post, The Week]


Federal court upholds transgender military ban

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled President Trump's transgender military ban can stand, holding the policy in its present form has clear "standards" that allow "some transgender individuals to serve in the military." Trump has proposed several plans to block transgender people from military service, beginning with a ban on service "in any capacity" in July of 2017. That plan was dropped after legal challenges and replaced by a ban on transgender people who "may require substantial medical treatment" in March of 2018. The policy is still subject to further judicial review, including by the Supreme Court. [Reuters, Military Times]


Trump claims support from 'all sides' for border wall proposal

President Trump struck an optimistic tone on Twitter early Saturday, claiming broad backing for his conditions for ending the partial government shutdown. "Great support coming from all sides for Border Security (including Wall) on our very dangerous Southern Border," he wrote, asserting in a second tweet that everyone "other than drug dealers, human traffickers, and criminals" wants the wall "very badly." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been adamant the House will not fund the wall, and recent polling shows just one in four Americans say shutting down the government is better than accepting no wall funding. [Donald J. Trump, USA Today]


December jobs report trounces expectations

U.S. employers added 312,000 non-farm jobs in December, the Labor Department reported Friday, far exceeding forecasts of about 182,000. Despite the gains, the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent from 3.7 percent as 419,000 more people entered the labor force looking for work. A broader measure of unemployment that takes into account discouraged and underemployed workers remained at 7.6 percent. Wages increased by 0.4 percent over the previous month, and 3.2 percent from a year ago, tying October for the best year-over-year increase since April 2009. [MarketWatch, CNBC]


U.S. reportedly ceases cooperation with U.N. human rights investigators

The Trump administration is no longer cooperating with United Nations officials who investigate potential human rights violations in the United States, The Guardian reported Friday. The State Department suddenly stopped responding to queries and complaints in May, and officials did not comment on whether non-cooperation with human rights investigators is a permanent policy decision. U.N. watchdog groups have reported increased inequality and discrimination in America in recent years, but the Trump administration has disputed those findings and accused the U.N. of political bias. [The Guardian, The Hill]


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposes 70 percent tax on highest earners

In a promotional clip released Friday for a 60 Minutes interview set to air in full Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) advocated a sharp tax hike for the highest income brackets. "Once you get to the tippy-tops, on your ten-millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent," she said, referring to similarly high marginal tax rates in decades past. The proposed tax hike would fund Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal," a plan to combat climate change with major spending on clean-energy infrastructure. Her tax idea was supported by some congressional Democrats and widely panned on the right. [Politico, The Week]


Hundreds of TSA agents reportedly call in sick rather than work without pay

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents are among those federal employees tasked with working without pay while the partial government shutdown continues, though they will receive back pay once the shutdown ends. In the meantime, hundreds of TSA employees have called in sick, CNN reported Friday, citing agency and union officials. "TSA officers are telling the union they will find another way to make money," said a union leader from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. "That means calling out to work other jobs." The Department of Homeland Security labeled the report "#FakeNews" in a tweeted response. [CNN, Fox News]


Bowling alley shooting kills 3, injures 4

Three people were killed and four more injured when shots were fired in a bowling alley in Torrance, California, late Friday. All seven of the victims were male, and at least two of those wounded have been hospitalized. Eyewitness accounts and limited statements from authorities so far suggest the shooting occurred after a fight broke out between two groups of people. A patron named Wes Hamad said he saw a "huge fight" followed by "complete chaos" that temporarily blocked the facility's exit. The police investigation is ongoing, and no suspects have yet been publicly identified. [The Associated Press, Reuters]


Escape room fire kills 5 in Poland

Five teenage girls were killed and one other person injured when a fire broke out in an escape room in Koszalin, Poland, on Friday. The girls were attending a birthday party when a fire thought to be caused by a gas leak was started in an adjacent room. They were likely killed by carbon monoxide inhalation, while the sixth victim was hospitalized with severe burns. "A devastating tragedy in Koszalin," Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted. "Five joyous, growing girls have been torn out of their lives. God bless their parents and relatives." [CNN, The Associated Press]


A Star Is Born and Green Book poised for Golden Globe wins

Two days out from the Golden Globe Awards, some likely victors have emerged. The top category of Best Picture - Drama is almost universally expected to go to A Star Is Born, though Black Panther could be a contender. Green Book is the slight favorite for the Best Picture - Musical or Comedy category over the Dick Cheney biopic, Vice. Christian Bale (Vice) and Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) are likely to pick up top acting awards, as are Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) and Olivia Colman (The Favourite). The awards show begins Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern. [Vox, The Week]