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Feb 2, 2019

On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

5-6 minutes



Politics|On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week
The United States began trade talks with China on Wednesday that could prove critical to the trajectory of the world economy, but self-inflicted economic wounds from Mr. Trump’s trade policies could mean lost leverage.
The Trump administration said on Friday that it was suspending one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia, after five years of heated talks that failed to resolve American accusations that Moscow is violating the agreement.
Additional Reading
U.S. Appears to Soften Timing for List of North Korea’s Nuclear Assets
On Venezuela, Rubio Assumes U.S. Role of Ouster in Chief
Huawei and Top Executive Face Criminal Charges in the U.S.
Another Democrat joined what is looking like one of the most diverse and crowded primary fields in history. Senator Cory Booker, the former Newark mayor who has projected an upbeat message at a polarized time, entered the 2020 race on Friday, embarking on a campaign to become the country’s second black president.
Other potential candidates haven’t announced but certainly seem interested. Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, has begun the groundwork needed to get on the ballot in all 50 states as an independent. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been aiming policy announcements well beyond New York, but no one seems to be listening. And Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a plan that would subject more wealthy Americans to the estate tax, joining a wave of left-wing politicians calling for new ways to tax the rich.
In a changing Democratic Party, a number of moderates, notably Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Michael Bloomberg, are thinking of challenging Mr. Trump. But if too many centrists run, they could box each other out.
Additional Reading
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Decides Against Presidential Bid
Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 Strategy: Stand Out by ‘Nerding Out’
Can Kamala Harris Repeat Obama’s Success With Black Voters? It’s Complicated
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees returned to work this week, with no guarantee they won’t be idled again in mid-February. The task of avoiding another shutdown is now in the hands of a bipartisan panel that includes some of Congress’s most senior lawmakers — and, perhaps more tellingly, lacks the most vocal immigration hard-liners on Capitol Hill.
As the panel met on Wednesday for the first time, Democratic members laid out their opening offer for improving border security: more customs officers and new technology, but nothing for the wall that Mr. Trump is still demanding.
The five-week government shutdown cost the economy $11 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said. While most of the lost growth is expected to be recovered, nearly $2.7 billion is gone for good.
The State of the Union has a new date. After much back-and-forth, Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited the president to deliver the address on Feb. 5. Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the governor’s race in Georgia last year, will deliver the Democrats’ official response.
Additional Reading
U.S. Job Gains Show Employers Shrugged Off Government Shutdown
After a Shutdown Test of Wills Comes a Test of Governance
Government Shutdown Is Over, So Where Is the Economic Data?
Congress hit the reset button this week, showcasing a Democratic agenda in the House that had been overshadowed by the struggle to reopen the government. In both chambers, lawmakers have teed up a high-impact lineup of hearings.
The Senate voted Monday to advance legislation affirming local and state governments’ right to break ties with companies that boycott or divest from Israel. The measure to combat the so-called B.D.S. movement is as much about highlighting Democratic divisions on Israel as it is about defending the Jewish state.
As the new House Judiciary Committee convened on Tuesday, Democrats took sustained fire over their ambitious proposal to counter gerrymandering and ease access to the polls. The hearing on the legislation, known as the For the People Act, quickly turned into a partisan brawl.
In a significant rule change announced on Wednesday, veterans who can prove they have to drive for at least 30 minutes to a Veterans Affairs health care facility will be allowed to choose private providers for some services. Critics fear public hospitals will lose more funds.
The Senate, in a bipartisan rebuke to Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, advanced legislation on Thursday to express strong opposition to his decision to pull troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Additional Reading
From Celebrated to Vilified, House’s Muslim Women Absorb Blows Over Israel
On Both Ends of Capitol, Both Parties Warn Big Pharma on Drug Prices
President Signs Order to Help U.S. Manufacturers and ‘Trump People’
In a lengthy Oval Office interview, Mr. Trump told The New York Times that negotiating with Congress over a border wall was a “waste of time” and that he would probably take action on it himself. He also spoke about the Russia investigation and the 2020 election. Here are five takeaways from the interview.

Source: NYT

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