On the roster: Pelosi, Schumer battle Trump in prime time prize fight – Steyer heading to Iowa for announcement – Candidate trips fire alarm fleeing press – Audible: It’s puff, puff, give – Shoulda swiped left
PELOSI, SCHUMER BATTLE TRUMP IN PRIME TIME PRIZE FIGHT
CNBC: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will deliver the Democrats’ response to President Donald Trump on Tuesday night following his Oval Office address to the nation about funding his proposed border wall. Pelosi and Schumer, who have led Democratic negotiations with the Trump administration amid a partial government shutdown that has now become the second-longest on record, will give their response from the speaker’s balcony in the U.S. Capitol building after Trump’s televised 9 p.m. ET address has finished. ‘If his past statements are any indication,’ then Trump’s speech ‘will be full of malice and misinformation,’ the Democratic leaders said Monday night in a joint statement calling for Democrats to be given equal airtime. As the shutdown of roughly a quarter of the government stretched into its 18th day, both sides remained staunchly opposed to each others’ proposals for a deal to fund nine federal departments.”
Braun, Manchin try to stop Congress from getting paid during shutdowns – Indianapolis Star: “In his first act as a U.S. senator, Indiana Republican Mike Braun is expected to introduce a bipartisan bill that would prevent members of Congress — including himself — from being paid during government shutdowns. Currently, lawmakers are still paid when they are unable to pass spending bills by the deadline, while most federal workers are not. The latest partial government shutdown is now in its third week, as Democrats and President Donald Trump continue to clash over border security on the country’s southern border. Trump has requested $5 billion for a border wall. Braun’s bill, co-authored by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, would also prohibit retroactive pay for lawmakers.”
Trump changes rules to let tax refunds flow during shutdown – WSJ: “The Internal Revenue Service will pay tax refunds even though the agency is subject to the federal government shutdown, after the Trump administration reversed a longstanding policy. Monday’s decision removes one of the biggest potential pains for many Americans from a prolonged shutdown. Even if the impasse over a border wall lasts into the income tax-filing season scheduled to start Jan. 28, the administration’s move will let hundreds of billions of dollars flow to households. The administration is trying to make the shutdown as ‘painless as possible consistent with the law,’ Russell Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters. ‘We’re going to continue to take steps like that to mitigate the impact,’ Vice President Mike Pence said of the tax refunds.”
Pence diminished – The Atlantic: “According to multiple current and former administration officials, however, as Trump’s friction with Congress has increased, Pence’s clout has suffered. Two sources, one close to the vice president and the other close to the president, both of whom requested anonymity in order to discuss internal conversations, affirmed … that Pence was leading the Trump administration’s negotiations on border security. Yet the fact remains that this weekend, the president gave his lead negotiator very little room to negotiate, sending Pence to a meeting that Trump himself said would yield nothing. This, coupled with the moments over the past month when Trump has publicly undermined Pence’s messaging, has helped create a portrait of a vice president with diminishing influence.”
Shutdown stories: Florida prison guards pay the price – NYT: “A federal prison here in Florida’s rural Panhandle lost much of its roof and fence during Hurricane Michael in October, forcing hundreds of inmates to relocate to a facility in Yazoo City, Miss., more than 400 miles away. Since then, corrections officers have had to commute there to work, a seven-hour drive, for two-week stints. As of this week, thanks to the partial federal government shutdown, they will be doing it without pay — no paychecks and no reimbursement for gas, meals and laundry, expenses that can run hundreds of dollars per trip. ‘You add a hurricane, and it’s just too much,’ said Mike Vinzant, a 32-year-old guard and the president of the local prison officers’ union. If nature can be blamed for creating the first financial hardship, the second is the result of the even less predictable whims in Washington…”
Williamson: You ain’t seen nothing yet – National Review: “This is what happens when a relatively small group of federal workers don’t get their paychecks. Imagine what it is going to look like when the Social Security checks stop coming. Around 2038, less than 20 years out, total spending on the major entitlements — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — plus interest on the debt will exceed all federal tax revenue. Put another way, come 2038, if we put every dollar Uncle Stupid collects in taxes toward Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt, all of that money combined will not cover those expenses. Fiscal Armageddon is coming.”
THE RULEBOOK: CRUSHING IT
“The several departments of power are distributed and blended in such a manner as at once to destroy all symmetry and beauty of form, and to expose some of the essential parts of the edifice to the danger of being crushed by the disproportionate weight of other parts.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 47
TIME OUT: CHEERS
Smithsonian: “[‘Drunk History,’ the Comedy Central show whose sixth season premieres January 15] features guests, often celebrities, telling historical tales while drinking with host Derek Waters and a cast re-enacting the stories as they’re told, lip-synching to the narration. … Waters first got the idea for ‘Drunk History’ when his friend ‘New Girl’ actor Jake Johnson drunkenly tried to tell him a story about Otis Redding’s 1967 plane crash death. When Waters told another actor friend, Michael Cera of ‘Arrested Development’ fame, about it, they decided to shoot an episode with Cera playing Alexander Hamilton in a retelling of his fatal duel with Aaron Burr (this was, it should be noted, eight years before Hamilton’s Off-Broadway debut). The clip blew up online with the help of Cera’s star power, on the rise in 2007 thanks to Superbad and Juno; it’s gotten more than 7.5 million views on YouTube to date.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 42 percent
Average disapproval: 53.4 percent
Net Score: -11.4 points
Change from one week ago: unchanged
[Average includes: Gallup: 40% approve – 55% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 42% approve – 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve – 52% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove.]
STEYER HEADING TO IOWA FOR ANNOUNCEMENT
Bloomberg: “Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic activist who has made impeaching President Donald Trump one of his signature issues, said he will announce his ‘political plans for 2019 and beyond’ Wednesday in Iowa, site of the first presidential nominating contest. The statement does not include details of what the announcement will be, including if he’ll launch a presidential campaign or exploratory committee, but adds he will take questions from the media ‘regarding his plans for the future and his vision for the country.’ The event begins 4:30pm Washington time in Des Moines.”
O’Rourke plans solo road trip before making 2020 decision – WSJ: “Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is asking aides to create an itinerary for him to take a solo road trip outside of Texas where he would ‘pop into places’ such as community college campuses, as he considers whether to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to a person familiar with the plans. Mr. O’Rourke’s trip would begin from his El Paso home and keep him away from Iowa and other early-voting states. Mr. O’Rourke doesn’t plan to be accompanied by staff or press, though he may document the trip on social media and allow people he meets to do so as well. He doesn’t plan to make a final decision on a presidential bid until at least February. … Decisions to be made in coming weeks by former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, along with Mr. O’Rourke’s move, will help shape the contours of the 2020 Democratic campaign.”
Kamala Harris readies her ‘soft launch’ for president – Politico: “The Kamala Harris soft launch is here. One week after her Senate colleague Elizabeth Warren began formally exploring a run for the White House, the California senator is stepping onto the 2020 stage herself, beginning with a book tour and a flurry of largely friendly broadcast media appearances in advance of her own expected presidential announcement. It’s a chance for Harris to roll out her personal story while previewing the fundamental themes of her prospective campaign, drawn from her time as a career prosecutor and her ideas about reforming the criminal justice system. Harris will hit the morning news show circuit Tuesday with appearances on ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘The View,’ in addition to a National Public Radio interview. She’ll promote her book Wednesday at a Washington event, then make a stop Thursday at ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.’”
Could Cory Booker be getting wifed up? – Page Six: “Cory Booker and Rosario Dawson seem to be moving fast. Just on Sunday, The Post’s Richard Johnson reported that the New Jersey senator and the movie star had been spotted together catching a movie at the Regal Union Square on Thursday. Now Page Six is told that Dawson was heard saying — or, more specifically, singing — ‘I love you’ to Booker. Spies at Saturday’s performance of Broadway hit ‘Dear Evan Hanson’ say they were left in no doubt that Booker and Dawson — who brought Dawson’s daughter and Booker’s niece to see the show — are a couple. And after meeting the cast post-show, Dawson — who was walking across the empty stage on her way to the exit — began fooling around and singing a made-up song to Booker that went, ‘I love you; te amo [as in, the Spanish for ‘I love you’].’ … While the source said that they didn’t kiss while they were there, they said it was clear that they’re an item.”
Former Rep. John Delaney hires Iowa staff – Des Moines Register: “Presidential candidate John Delaney has hired several senior Iowa staffers and will open six new field offices across the state in the coming weeks. Delaney, who just ended his third term as a U.S. representative from Maryland, was the first to announce a 2020 presidential run, launching his campaign in October 2017. ‘Our campaign spent most of last year laying the groundwork and introducing Congressman Delaney to Iowans,’ Monica Biddix said in a statement.”
CANDIDATE TRIPS FIRE ALARM FLEEING PRESS
WSOC-TV: “After Republican 9th Congressional District candidate Mark Harris finished addressing Mecklenburg County Republicans at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center Monday night, reporters, including Eyewitness News reporter Joe Bruno, tried to ask him questions. Harris and a group of three or four other people used a fire exit to leave the Government Center as reporters attempted to ask questions. After Harris opened the door on the ground level, an alarm sounded. An unidentified man tried to block reporters from using the fire escape to follow Harris. When questioned if he worked for the city, the man allowed reporters to pursue the politician. Reporters continued to volley questions at Harris after he exited through the fire escape, but he sprinted across East 3rd Street and into the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Charlotte, where he used to be a pastor. Harris then got into a car which sped off in the opposite direction of reporters. After the bizarre exit, in a tweet to Eyewitness News Reporter Joe Bruno, Harris said he had to get home to watch the college football National Championship game.”
Rashida Tlaib accused of anti-Semitic slur, days after anti-Trump tirade – Fox News
Rick Scott joins Senate in time to pick a side for or against Trump’s immigration, border wall stances – WaPo
Mick Mulvaney already has two jobs, but is in the talks for a third as a college president – NYT
DOJ delays Whitaker’s House testimony – Politico
Protesters demand Dem mega donor Ed Buck‘s arrest amid second man found dead in his apartment – Fox News
Romney gets the cold shoulder from some in Senate GOP – Politico
AUDIBLE: IT’S PUFF, PUFF, GIVE
“Maybe my technique was poor.” – Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s reasoning for why marijuana “didn’t have any particular effect” on him, as quoted by BuzzFeed.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“The first paychecks that should be stopped should be for all politicians, their staff and Cabinet members. But other than that Federal employees, particularly in DC, have lived large when the rest of the country has suffered. If Congress and their employees were cutoff first a shutdown would never occur. The fact is that most of them are not worth the money we pay them and they are protected from getting fired. Sorry but a depression in Federal employment is what we need.” – Michael Johnson, Fairfield Glade, Tenn.
[Ed. note: It certainly does seem unfair that the individuals responsible for the shutdown are not among those affected by the shutdown itself. Shutdowns were introduced to our budgeting process as a bipartisan penalty for intransigence. Nobody is supposed to want a shutdown. But as our government has lost the capacity for budgeting and other normal fiscal duties, shutdowns have become a more significant part of our experience. That’s because since the 1990s, parties have considered shutdowns as political opportunities. We score these events like games: Which team “won” and which team “lost.” The idea is that no one is supposed to win. A shutdown is an embarrassment and a reflection of governmental incompetence. What’s obvious now is that those ideas carry less sting then they did 40 years ago when they were instituted. So maybe we need to, as you suggest, increase the pain.]
“Hi Chris, Will the Democrats have a rebuttal following the president’s address to the nation, similar to the rebuttal after the state of the union?” – Katie Hacker, Evington, Va.
[Ed. note: As you saw above, it will be the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate who rebut the president – something of an interesting choice. They might have put forward someone to make the Democratic case on immigration, but the two leaders doing it themselves suggests that we are more likely to hear a recitation of their prior talking points. I suspect the two side will be, as usual, talking past each other.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
SHOULDA SWIPED LEFT
WaPo: “As a game warden for Oklahoma’s Department of Wildlife Conservation, Cannon Harrison is used to working on investigations… His latest bust, however, came easily — courtesy of the dating app Bumble. The 24-year-old received a notification in December telling him that he had matched with a woman in his area. … Harrison asked how she was doing. She had just shot a ‘bigo buck,’ she told him — a big old buck. ‘Pretty happy about it,’ she wrote. At first, Harrison figured it had to be a prank. His profile on the dating app doesn’t mention what he does for a living. But in rural McIntosh County … plenty of people recognize him as the game warden. … The next morning, game wardens showed up at her home. … But the odds that a poacher and a game warden would end up matching on a dating app, he said, were ‘probably less than winning the lottery.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“But it seemed as if the guardrails of our democracy — Congress, the courts, the states, the media, the Cabinet — were keeping things within bounds. Then came the past 10 days. The country is now caught in the internal maelstrom that is the mind of Donald Trump. We are in the realm of the id. Chaos reigns. No guardrails can hold.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on May 18, 2017.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
If you enjoyed our content, we'd really appreciate some "love" with a share or two.
And ... Don't forget to have fun!