Partial Government Shutdown
The partial government shutdown entered its 13th day this morning amid the standoff between the President and Congress over his request for $5 billion to build a border wall. As a result, nine departments and dozens of agencies and other entities are largely closed with hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed.
On Wednesday, bipartisan congressional leaders went to the White House for a border security briefing but did not make any progress towards a deal to reopen the government. As the 116th Congress convenes today, incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will bring up and the House is expected to approve Senate-passed legislation to fund through the end of the fiscal year all of the agencies that are currently closed, except the Department of Homeland Security, which would be funded at current levels through February 8. Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t plan to bring anything to the Senate floor that the President doesn’t support, however.
Executive Branch Nominations
Before the 115th Congress came to a close, the Senate confirmed a number of pending executive branch nominations. Geoffrey Starks will fill the vacant Democratic seat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Senate also confirmed Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr to a full second term. Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier is the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the first person to hold the position during this administration. Patrick Fuchs and Martin Oberman join the Surface Transportation Board and Joel Szabat is the new Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at the Department of Transportation. A complete list of those confirmed can be found here. The President will have to resubmit any nominations that were not confirmed to the new Congress.
As the 116th Congress gets underway, the Senate has nine new members, namely Senators Blackburn (R-TN), Braun (R-IN), Cramer (R-ND), Hawley (R-MO), McSally (R-AZ), Romney (R-UT), Rosen (D-NV), Scott (R-FL), and Sinema (D-AZ). The House is swearing in over 100 new members today.