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Disaster aid bill could grow, block diversion of funds to wall
Measure unlikely to go far in Senate

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., (left), is pushing for a disaster aid package. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., opposes an amendment Democrats are preparing that he describes as an “exercise in futility. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is scheduled to take up a $12.1 billion disaster aid package Wednesday that would reopen the nine closed Cabinet agencies for three weeks and, if approved during floor debate, prevent President Donald Trump from tapping the bill’s emergency funds for building a border wall.

The underlying bill would direct aid to victims of recent calamities such as hurricanes that hit Florida and the Carolinas, wildfires that ravaged California and typhoons that struck island territories in the Pacific, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., told the Rules Committee on Tuesday.

Pelosi asks Trump to delay State of The Union until government reopens
The Speaker of the House asked the President to delay the address scheduled for Jan. 29 or deliver it in writing

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly on camera press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday asking he delay his Jan. 29 State of the Union address, or deliver it in writing, unless the government is reopened.

The California Democrat said a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown “since the start of modern budgeting” in fiscal 1977. Pelosi also cited security concerns because the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are not funded.

Trump to try again to court moderate House Democrats on border wall
Goal for Situation Room meeting is funds for ‘real border security and the wall’

President Donald Trump, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, speaks earlier this month in the White House’s Rose Garden. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet Wednesday with the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus in the Situation Room as the White House tries to cobble together votes for a shutdown-ending bill that includes funding for his proposed southern border wall.

The Problem Solvers group is composed of just under 50 Republican and Democratic House members. The session will mark the second time in as many days the White House has attempted to court moderate and deal-minded House Democrats.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announces 2020 presidential run
New York Democrat announced the news on ‘Late Night with Stephen Colbert’

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has promised to stay away from corporate PAC money and has said it has a "corrosive effect" in politics. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has formed an exploratory committee to begin fundraising for a 2020 campaign for president.

The New York Democrat announced the news on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday, and laid out her answer to the question every candidate is asked: Why do you want to run for president?

They raised millions and lost. Now what?
Democrats who were top fundraisers look to stay involved in politics

Kentucky’s Amy McGrath was one of the top Democratic fundraisers of the 2018 cycle in her unsuccessful challenge to GOP Rep. Andy Barr. (Jason Davis/Getty Images file photo)

Democrats who ran for the House in 2018 shattered fundraising records, some even surpassing Senate candidates. But not all of the cycle’s top fundraisers ended up winning their races. 

That’s left a number of candidates — with high profiles and massive donor lists — pondering their next moves. And some are still eyeing careers in politics. 

Democrats try to meet people where they are: mired in cynicism
Next to Trump’s unfulfilled, empty pledge to drain the swamp, HR 1 looks pretty savvy

Democrats are intent on sticking to their “For the People” message, even if they’re swimming upstream against the partial government shutdown. Above, from left, Rep. Colin Allred, Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark, and Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small hold a press conference in the Capitol on Jan. 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — It’s tempting, and deliciously smug, to dismiss House Democrats’ everything-but-the-kitchen-sink campaign finance, lobbying, ethics and voting overhaul bill as an overtly partisan political messaging stunt that’s doomed in the Senate and too unpolished for enactment.

The measure is all of those. But ignoring this effort outright means waving off voters’ very real perception that their democracy has been sold out to the highest campaign donors.

Push intensifies for cryptocurrency industry to police itself
Group is working to establish an industry-sponsored regulator

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are legally considered commodities and occupy the same category as gold or oil, which are considered “exempt.” (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

BY CHRIS MARQUETTE

Proponents who tout the revolutionary potential for digital assets may turn to a more traditional model to protect investors and pre-empt additional scrutiny: self-regulation.

STEM Group Launches ‘Draft Mark Kelly’ Effort in Arizona
314 Action is urging former astronaut to challenge appointed Sen. McSally

Mark Kelly, the husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is being encouraged to run for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

314 Action, a group that backs candidates with scientific backgrounds, is launching a new effort Wednesday to encourage former astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly to run for Senate in Arizona. 

Kelly, who is married to former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is among a handful of potential Democratic challengers to appointed Sen. Martha McSally. The race is expected to be a top party target in 2020, and 314 Action is hoping a show of support will bolster Kelly’s decision to run.

For Steve King, colleagues continue calls for censure, resignation
Pelosi to rule Wednesday on two censure proposals

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, faced two reprimands already this week, and tougher punishments may be ahead. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Steve King has already faced two reprimands this week from his colleagues for his racist comments, but there could be tougher punishment ahead. Some Democrats are calling for an official censure, and a few fellow Republicans are calling for King’s resignation.

The clock is ticking down on two measures to officially censure King, offered Monday by Democratic Reps. Bobby L. Rush of Illinois and Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Senate votes to start debating Russia sanctions measure, but may lack votes to finish it
Joint resolution seeks to block sanctions relief for three Russian companies

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has led the joint resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Eleven Senate Republicans split from the Trump administration Tuesday afternoon, backing an effort by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer to force a floor debate on sanctions on Russian firms.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had appeared at Tuesday’s Senate GOP lunch to make the case for letting sanctions relief for three sanctioned Russian companies to go forward.