1-15-19 The Left Newsletter Attorney general nominee William Barr’s confirmation hearing begins today.

Trump rules out declaring a national emergency -- for now.

When asked about the shutdown yesterday, he told reporters, “I’m not looking to call a national emergency. This is so simple we shouldn’t have to.” That last part is actually spot on, but for different reasons than he has in mind.

What do you mean?

To end the shutdown, all Trump would have to do is say ‘okay’ to temporarily funding the government while he continues to fight with Congress over money for a border wall. But he’s refusing to do it, and sources are telling CNN “he’s not going to budge even 1 inch.”


Yeah, it’s not great. Also not great: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett saying unpaid federal workers are “better off” because they haven’t had to use any vacation days. Want to tell that to the thousands of federal employees filing for unemployment because they didn’t receive a paycheck on Friday? Didn’t think so.



Attorney general nominee William Barr’s confirmation hearing begins today.

Maybe the biggest concern is how Barr would handle Robert Mueller’s investigation. His prepared testimony was released yesterday, and he apparently plans to state, “On my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work.” Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and they just need 51 votes to get Barr confirmed.

Who is this guy again?

Barr, who served as AG during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, is Trump’s pick to replace former AG Jeff Sessions. Since he was nominated, Barr has come under fire for past comments calling part of the Mueller probe “fatally misconceived.”



Tens of thousands of teachers are striking in Los Angeles.

Picket lines formed outside 900 public schools yesterday, and more than 20,000 teachers and supporters marched in downtown Los Angeles.


The teachers are demanding smaller class sizes, higher wages, and more support staff. They had been in talks with the school district for 21 months leading up to the walkouts, but negotiations fell through over the weekend.



Texas removes a Confederate plaque from its capitol building.

A group of Republicans has been resisting the move for years, but the plaque, which rejected slavery as the cause of the Civil War, has finally been taken down.



Celebrity chef José Andrés opens a kitchen in D.C. to feed federal workers.

The pop-up kitchen is providing free sandwiches, soups, and salads to anyone with a government work ID.



Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

Sound familiar? Sanders introduced a similar bill back in 2017. The bill will more than likely die in Congress, but it would give him something to talk about on the presidential campaign trail (*wink wink*).



California bans gender discrimination in setting car insurance rates.

The state already prohibited rate changes based on educational status, employment status, or credit score. Now, they’re joining a handful of other states by taking gender out of the equation.



The wife of a furloughed worker wins $100,000 in the Virginia lottery.

This is a great story, but a 1 in 550,000 drawing really shouldn’t be one of the only options for federal workers right now.



Wait, calling my member of Congress is really that easy?

Calling your elected officials is a quick and easy way to make your voice hears. But if you’ve never done it before, it can seem a little daunting. If you’re in that boat, click here for a super helpful how-to guide, courtesy of Refinery29’s Andrea González-Ramírez.



This woman was about to move into her own place after fleeing abuse. Then, the shutdown happened.

An anonymous 49-year-old woman — we’ll call her Sarah — told HuffPost how she ended up at a domestic violence shelter in West Virginia. She had been in an abusive relationship with a boyfriend in another state, and the shelter gave her a way out. Sarah fled, moved into the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center, and began saving up money.

By December, Sarah had saved up $600 — just enough cash to cover one month’s rent on a mobile home. She didn’t quite have enough money to pay for the security deposit, but the shelter offered to help out. They had an emergency fund ready to go for situations like this, in which a client needed some financial help getting back on their feet.

Sarah filled out a rental application, paid the fee, and was approved to move into the mobile home. But right before she was set to move in, the government shut down. The shelter lost funding, and they told Sarah they would no longer be able to cover her security deposit. Just like that, Sarah’s new start was ripped out of her hands.

“I feel hurt, hurt, hurt. I’m already starting out with absolutely nothing. I don’t know what is going to happen now.”

Many domestic violence shelters, including the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center, rely on federal funding.

There’s a federal law — the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) — set up to guarantee funding to help women who have experienced sexual assault or escaped domestic violence. But VAWA was not reauthorized by Congress before the government shut down. Without access to that money, many shelters can no longer afford to provide services their clients desperately need. At some shelters, employees are even covering costs out of their own pockets.

You can help.

Shelters around the country are in need of financial donations. Or, follow this link and enter your location to see specific items shelters near you are in need of.




Trump denies working for Russia (on his second try). Sort of feels like the ‘I am not a crook’ moment of the Russia investigation.

A gun made it through airport security in Atlanta. The passenger flew with the firearm in their carry-on all the way to Tokyo.

France pledges over $1 billion to help rebuild Iraq. The total cost of reconstruction is estimated to be around $88 billion.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is writing a book on her journey from refugee to member of Congress. It will be titled “This is What America Looks Like.”

Rand Paul is headed to Canada for hernia surgery. Yes, the same Rand Paul who once compared socialized medicine to “slavery.”

The Killers have released a new single slamming Trump’s border wall. The song, titled “Land of the Free,” also addresses systemic racism and gun violence.

Stormy Daniels is suing Ohio police for arresting her during a performance at a strip club last summer. She is accusing them of conspiring against her to protect President Trump.

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