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Monday, Feb 19th

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Senate fails to reach a deal, government headed to shutdown

US SenateA Senate vote to end debate that would have moved towards a vote on a short-term spending bill failed Friday night, teeing up the government for an all-but-certain shutdown at midnight.

Republican senators failed to capture the 60 votes they needed to even vote on the bill that would have funded the government for 30 days, a bill the House passed Thursday night.

Shortly before the scheduled vote, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there is "no deal" reached among Republicans to ensure passage, and the vote will be on a 30-day spending bill, rather than an even more short-term funding solution, as some in the Senate had suggested. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, announced he was a "no" on the 30-day deal, making a shutdown even more likely.

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Senate passes FISA Section 702 reauthorization

Senate passes FISA 702 reauthorizationThe Senate approved a six-year extension of the controversial Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Thursday.  The vote was 65-34. The bill now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump's signature.

Section 702 allows the US government to collect communications, such as emails and phone records, of foreigners on foreign soil without a warrant. While the law targets non-US citizens, critics warn the government may incidentally monitor US citizens who are communicating with non-US citizens outside the United States. Its proponents have argued the program helps keep Americans safe.
On Tuesday, by a vote of 60-38, the Senate defeated a filibuster of the bill.

Sen. Jeff Flake says press undergoing a "sustained attack" by Trump

Jeff Flake rebukes Trump's attack on Freedom of the Press

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, delivered a rebuke of President Trump on the Senate floor Wednesday, in a speech that drew a comparison between Mr. Trump and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and called for greater protections of the truth and members of the press around the world.

In his remarks, Flake called out Mr. Trump's repeated attacks on the news media, saying it's an "assault as unprecedented as it is unwarranted.

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Cory Booker rebukes DHS secretary over "amnesia" about Trump's "sh*thole" remarks

Corey Booker rebukes DHS head over Trump's shit hole remarkHomeland Security Secretary Kirsten Nielsen's statement to Congress that she couldn't remember whether President Trump referred to some nations as "sh*thole countries" enraged New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker.

"Your silence and your amnesia is complicity," Booker told her as she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Senators who asked Nielsen about the allegation that the president used the profane phrase in an immigration meeting last week heard her say she didn't remember or didn't hear him. "I did not hear that word used," Nielsen told senators. "The president used tough language in general, as did other congressmen in the room," she said to another senator.

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Chelsea Manning Is Running for Senate in Maryland

Chelsea Manning running for Md. Senate seat.U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has filed paperwork to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland, where she may challenge Democratic incumbent Ben Cardin in a primary.

The documents showing Manning’s campaign filing were shared on Twitter today, and confirmed by the Washington Post.

Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted in 2013 of leaking a vast trove of Army documents, videos, and other materials to WikiLeaks. They included evidence of what Manning later described as “missteps” and “misguided policies” in the prosecution of the war in Iraq. That included a video now known as Collateral Murder, which showed the killing by U.S. forces of a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters employees whose cameras were misidentified as weapons.

Manning was pardoned by President Barack Obama in 2017, days before he left office.

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Senators Reach Deal to Save Dreamers and Wall

Senate deal on Daca and the wallCongressional negotiators finalized an immigration deal on Thursday that would codify legal protections for undocumented minors while giving President Donald Trump some tangible victories of his own.

The deal, which is largely being forged in the Senate, still faces major hurdles; chief among them a healthy skepticism by conservatives—including some officials in the White House—and a difficult path to passage in the House. But one lawmaker told The Daily Beast that there was a “growing sense of optimism” that negotiators had crafted an agreement that could, at a minimum, pass the Senate and put pressure on the House to act.

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House passes NSA spying bill after Trump tweets cause confusion

NSA spying bill passed in HouseThe U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, overcoming objections from privacy advocates and confusion prompted by morning tweets from President Donald Trump that initially questioned the spying tool.

The legislation, which passed 256-164 and split party lines, is the culmination of a yearslong debate in Congress on the proper scope of U.S. intelligence collection - one fueled by the 2013 disclosures of classified surveillance secrets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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