The news never stops – here are the important events in politics you don’t want to miss… Government shutdown, North Korea, and Trump slams Schumer over ambassadors.
1. The latest on the government shutdown
The partial government shutdown began just after midnight on Saturday, December 22, 2018 and continues, after Congress failed to reach a deal on a spending bill, with President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for a border wall between the US and Mexico a key obstacle.
President Donald Trump sent a message to Nancy Pelosi via Twitter on New Year’s Day, indicating he wants to get back to the negotiating table.
Trump wrote: “Border Security and the Wall “thing” and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?”
The Democrats are reportedly ready to make healthcare a priority in the negotiations, with a major push involving the Affordable Care Act, especially at ensuring protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
2. North Korea ready to talk to US “anytime” about denuclearization
On New Year’s Day, during a nationally televised address to the North Korea nation, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and announced that he was ready to meet with US President Donald Trump at any time to continue the common goal of denuclearization for the Korean Peninsula.
However, Kim added a warning that, if the current US sanctions and pressure against his country continues, he may have to seek an alternative path.
“I am always ready to sit together with the U.S. president anytime in the future, and will work hard to produce results welcomed by the international community without fail,” Kim said.
Kim added that North Korea has “taken various practical measures” and if the US response “with trustworthy measures and corresponding practical actions… Bilateral relations will develop wonderfully at a fast pace.”
At the same time, Kim warned that Pyongyang might be “compelled to explore a new path” in order to defend its sovereignty. He added this would only happen if the United States “seeks to force something upon us unilaterally… and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure.”
Late New Year’s Day, President Trump wrote on Twitter: “‘Kim Jong Un says North Korea will not make or test nuclear weapons, or give them to others – & he is ready to meet President Trump anytime.’ PBS News Hour. I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential!”
3. Romney takes several jabs at the President, Trump fires back
Incoming Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post saying, among numerous criticisms, that President Donald Trump has not “risen to the mantle” of the presidency. Romney went on to assert that Trump has caused “dismay around the world.”
“A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect,” Romney wrote.
“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable,” Romney continued, “and it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
One has to wonder if Romney’s comments are motivated by his own ambitions to challenge Trump in 2020.
However, not every comment Romney made about the President in the op-ed piece was negative. He also gave credit to Trump for some of his accomplishments.
“He was right to align U.S. corporate taxes with those of global competitors, to strip out excessive regulations, to crack down on China’s unfair trade practices, to reform criminal justice and to appoint conservative judges,” Romney said. “These are policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years. But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.”
Trump fires back
On Wednesday morning, Trump swiped back at Romney on Twitter:
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
4. Trump slams Schumer for delaying ambassadorships
President Trump took Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) to task on Twitter on New Year’s Eve, blaming Schumer for the delay in approving ambassadorships.
Trump wrote: “Heads of countries are calling wanting to know why Senator Schumer is not approving their otherwise approved Ambassadors!? Likewise in Government lawyers and others are being delayed at a record pace! 360 great and hardworking people are waiting for approval from…Senator Schumer, more than a year longer than any other Administration in history. These are people who have been approved by committees and all others, yet Schumer continues to hold them back from serving their Country! Very Unfair!”
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) responded to the tweet, calling Trump’s claim about the ambassadorships a lie.
Murphy wrote on Twitter: “This is a lie. Because:
- The problem isn’t a long list of unapproved ambassadors. It’s that Trump left the most important slots vacant for virtually his entire first 2 years (eg Saudi Arabia)
- Ambassadors need only 50 votes. Mitch, not Chuck, is the issue.”
Trump took another shot at Schumer late New Year’s Day, following up with a new Tweet:
“For FAR TOO LONG Senate Democrats have been Obstructing more than 350 Nominations. These great Americans left their jobs to serve our Country, but can’t because Dems are blocking them, some for two years-historic record. Passed committees, but Schumer putting them on hold. Bad!”