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5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Senate to vote on opposing bills that would end shutdown

  • Report: Mueller wants to know more about Trump campaign's ties to NRA

  • IRS employee 'hardship' absences may push back tax refunds

  • Supreme Court allows restrictions on transgender military members

  • Los Angeles teachers approve contract, end 6-day strike

Senate leaders on Tuesday announced that lawmakers will vote Thursday on two bills that could end the partial government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that one bill would extend 2018 funding levels through Feb. 8, while the other is what President Trump outlined over the weekend: a plan that includes $5.7 billion for a border wall, a three-year extension of DACA, and measures to fund the parts of the government, plus $12.7 billion in assorted disaster and agricultural relief. The Senate will vote for both bills, while House Democrats are expected to pass another bill to reopen the government with $1 billion for border security but no wall.

Source: The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A former Trump campaign aide told CNN on Tuesday that when he was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, investigators asked him about how the National Rifle Association forged a relationship with the campaign. Sam Nunberg said he was also questioned about President Trump's speech at the NRA's annual meeting in 2015, and how that opportunity came up. Nunberg was interviewed in February 2018, but CNN reports that as recently as a month ago, investigators were asking about ties between the NRA and the campaign. The NRA spent $30 million to support Trump's candidacy, more than the organization spent on presidential, House, and Senate races combined in 2008 and 2012. People familiar with the matter told CNN that Mueller did not ask Trump about the NRA in the written questions he sent him.

Source: CNN

Last week, the White House budget office classified Internal Revenue Service employees who process tax refunds as "essential" and ordered at least 30,000 of them to return to work without pay. But hundreds of those un-furloughed workers are staying home, requesting and receiving "hardship" exemptions that, under their union contract, allow them to skip work during a shutdown if they can't afford to work for free, The Washington Post reports. If the number of IRS workers staying home rises, as union officials expect, refunds will likely be delayed. The IRS won't say how many workers are out on hardship leave. "We are continuing our recall operations, and we continue to assess the situation at this time," said IRS spokesman Matt Leas.

Source: The Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled to allow the Trump administration to enforce restrictions on transgender personnel in the military. President Trump's ban was blocked by several courts last year, but the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to lift the injunctions that had rejected the restrictions. The controversial policy first banned transgender people from serving in the U.S. military "in any capacity," then was later amended to ban transgender people who "may require substantial medical treatment." The ruling means that the restrictions can be enforced while a case proceeds to determine the policy's long-term fate.

Source: BuzzFeed News, Reuters

Late Tuesday, Los Angeles teachers approved a contract deal and agreed to return to the classrooms on Wednesday after a six-day strike in the nation's second-largest school district. The votes of the 30,000 teachers union members were still being counted Tuesday night, but "a vast supermajority are voting yes for the agreement that we made," said union president Alex Caputo-Pearl. "Those are preliminary results but they're so overwhelming that we know what the results are going to be." The deal, finalized early Tuesday, gives teachers a 6 percent raise, reduces class sizes incrementally over the next few years, and increases the number of support staff, including teachers and librarians.

Source: Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press
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