Politics Brief: Today’s Top Must-Read Stories

Here are the top most important stories in political news you don’t want to miss!

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1. Pelosi denies Trump use of House chamber for State of the Union address, President vows “alternative”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced Trump to cancel his annual State of the Union address on Wednesday by barring the president from delivering the speech in the House chamber. The Democratic representative, who controls the chamber’s proceedings, cited reasons due to the partial government shutdown for denying the president its use.

President Trump told reporters at the White House that he “will do something in the alternative,” making the suggestion that a speech will happen next week.

2. Venezuela’s current president orders American diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours after the US and other regional powers recognize Venezuela’s interim president; Russia warns the US

The major regional players, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Argentina have all recognized the head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled legislature, Juan Guaido, as the country’s interim leader, isolating President Nicholas Maduro.

However, most likely due to the US backing of his opponent, current socialist Venezuelan President Maduro announced that he is breaking diplomatic relations with the United States, and has given American diplomats seventy-two hours to leave the country.

Russia warns the US about intervention in Venezuela

Russia issued a warning to the United States against military intervention in Venezuela.

“We warn against that,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “We consider that would be a catastrophic scenario that would shake the foundations of the development model which we see in Latin America.”

“Venezuela is friendly to us and is our strategic partner,” Ryabkov added. “We have supported them and will support them.”

3. Cohen postpones testimony “indefinitely” citing threats to his family from Trump and Giuliani

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, has postponed his plans to testify before Congress in February. Cohen issued a statement through his advisor, Lanny Davis, who cited “ongoing threats” to Cohen’s family from both Trump and his current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Cohen was scheduled to make a voluntary appearance before Congress on February 7.

In response, President Trump told reporters Cohen’s only threat was “the truth.”

“He’s only been threatened by the truth, and he doesn’t want to do that probably for me or other of his clients,” Trump said.” He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”

4. Ocasio-Cortez breaks with Democrats votes against bill to reopen the government

Freshman representative and self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), broke ranks with the Democratic Party as the lone House Democrats to vote against a new bill to fund and reopen the government on Wednesday. The newly elected Congresswoman voted against the bill because it would allocate funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which she wants to abolish.

Ocasio-Cortez is not alone among several other elected Democrats who have also voiced their support for abolishing the immigration agency.

Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez was criticized by her supporters for voting in favor of a spending bill that included ICE funding.

In spite of Ocasio-Cortez’s nay vote on the current legislation to reopen the government, the bill passed with the support of over 220 Democrats and a handful of Republicans.

5. New Ohio Governor says he’ll sign “heartbeat” abortion bill that Kasich vetoed

Newly elected Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that he will “absolutely” sign a “heartbeat” abortion bill that was vetoed last month by former Governor John Kasich.

“Ultimately, this will work its way up to the United States Supreme Court,” DeWine said. “And they’ll make that decision.”

The so-called “heartbeat” bill considers the presence of “fetal heartbeat” a factor in barring the right to perform an abortion. The first detection of a heartbeat in a fetus can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It’s controversial because it can occur before most women know they are pregnant.

A similar law was struck down this week by a judge in Iowa, who declared the state’s fetal heartbeat abortion law there unconstitutional.

6. New York passes abortion law to allow termination up until the expected date of birth amid some restrictions.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), signed legislation called the “Reproductive Health Act” which will allow termination of a pregnancy up until the expected date of birth with certain limitations, as well as, expanded the right to perform the procedure to other types of healthcare professionals in addition to doctors.

Under the new law: [An] abortion may be performed by a licensed, certified, or authorized practitioner within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient’s life or health.

Calling abortion a “fundamental right,” and in acknowledgment of the legislation’s passage, Cuomo directed authorities to use pink lighting to illuminate One World Trade Center in New York City to celebrate the State’s new abortion law.