This is the first “Get More Smarter” update of 2019; try not to pull a brain muscle after the long holiday break. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The 116th Congress convenes today with Democrats in majority control of the House of Representatives. California Rep. Nancy Pelosi is expected to be elected Speaker of the House on Thursday afternoon. Colorado’s Congressional delegation includes two new members — Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).
At the top of the list for the new Congress is finding a solution for the federal government shutdown now in its second week. From Politico:
Pelosi is set to pass a package of government funding bills on Thursday afternoon aimed at reopening the quarter of the government that’s closed and shirking President Donald Trump’s border wall. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he won’t take up the proposals — or anything at all without Trump’s approval.
A government shutdown has never in recent history dragged on from one Congress to another, but like so many things under Trump’s presidency this conflict is one without precedent.
The sharp impasse comes after a bipartisan meeting with the president on Wednesday aimed to restarting moribund negotiations. But Trump dismissed Pelosi’s plan and said he would look “foolish” for reopening government departments unrelated to the immigration dispute, leaving the new divided Congress opening in a state of remarkable gridlock.
On Wednesday Trump flat-out rejected a compromise deal with Democrats that had been worked out by Vice President Mike Pence.
For more on the opening day of the new Congress, check out the Washington Post.
► The Colorado legislature convenes for a new session on Friday. Anna Staver of the Denver Post takes a look at the new Democratic supermajority:
The diverse group of incoming state legislators includes a pediatrician and solar entrepreneur, as well as Colorado’s first transgender lawmakerand nine new Latino members who, when added to the list of five returning legislators, set a record for Latino representation in the General Assembly. It’s also the first time women have held a majority in either chamber. The Colorado House has 33 women and 32 men, but this could change in the coming days because of one and potentially two appointments.
► President Trump presided over a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that was bizarre even by his standards. Trump said that he “essentially fired” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and then things got even weirder. As the Washington Post reports:
President Trump, 12 days into a government shutdown and facing new scrutiny from emboldened Democrats, inaugurated the new year Wednesday with a Cabinet meeting. It quickly became a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness defense of his presidency and worldview, filled with falsehoods, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement…
…He took credit for falling oil prices, arguing they were the result of phone calls he made to the leaders of oil-producing nations.
“I called up certain people, and I said let that damn oil and gasoline — you let it flow, the oil,” he said.
And Trump defended his push to fund his promised border wall, parrying complaints from Democrats who have called the wall immoral by remarking, “Then we have to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America!
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