National News Roundup: Year 2, Week 48.5 (December 16–26)

Still life — Boot on newspaper, by Ernest Blaikley [Public domain]

This week was a dumpster fire for everyone, including the Trump administration — there are no real winners with a government shutdown and half the administration on its way out the door. And while it’s nice to at least see some collateral damage, I still recommend grabbing a comfort food before you dig into this week’s news — it’s definitely not The Most Wonderful News of the Year, y’all. (I delayed a couple of days to give everyone a holiday break, and also have moved the Good to the beginning of this draft accordingly.)

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a shutdown! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

The Good:

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

We’re inching ever-closer to a reckoning with the Russia Investigation, but several things are going on pause for the holiday before resolution. Here are the things to know and track while we’re paused:

We also saw a few stories on the Disregard of Governing Norms front. Here are the main things to know from this past week:

Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Unsinkable AZ Candidate.* Temporary Arizona Senate appointee John Kyl announced he was stepping down this week, clearing the path for former GOP candidate Martha McSally to be appointed — which means she’s going to have to work with the Democrat who beat her in the election for the Senate seat she was seeking. In another week, this kind of “too bad you lost your bid for the Senate, here, have the Senate seat that belonged to a dead guy you alienated” would probably fall under the purview of Casual Disregard of Governing Norms. But let’s be honest, it’s crowded enough up there already, and either way, it’s plenty weird, so into the Weird column it goes.
  • Bipartisan Criminal Reform? Okay, so a bill passed with bipartisan support through the Senate by 87–12 vote and the House by 358–36 this week, and Trump signed it into law on Friday. All by itself, that’s a little weird these days, but that’s not the part that is really confusing me — it’s that it’s a reasonable bill on criminal justice reform that was architected by Jared Kushner and even Fox News likes it. I haven’t had a chance to review the bill in depth yet, and that means I’m not yet sure what the deal is, though enough people adjacent to the Trumps lose money on this that I’m not sure why they’ve set this up. I’m hoping to review it in more depth soon, and I will definitely report back once I have a better idea.

The Bad:

What We Can Do:

  • Shutdown Shouting. Celeste Pewter continues to be an excellent resource on who to call about what; in particular, she recommends calling both sets of reps to say no money should be given to the wall, and she recommends you also call House reps about back pay for furloughed government workers. For both sets of calls, you can check the #ShutdownStories hashtag for inspiration as well. This is an issue where calling reps really, really matters, because our reps have a huge amount of ability to decide what happens next. So it’s worth a call or three!

And that’s what I have for this week, which was twice more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this United States of Pop 2018 mashup and an eventual better government. I’ll be back soon with more (and hopefully better) news, and I hope you will be back as well — but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me peace on Earth and goodwill towards humans!

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