By Robert A. Vella

After Democrats elected Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House yesterday for the new 116th Congress amid few hiccups, they immediately passed two continuing budget resolutions – with some Republican support – to end the government shutdown imposed by President Trump.  One resolution includes six separate bills to fund most government agencies through September 30th, while the second short-term resolution funds the Department of Homeland Security through February 8th without the additional border wall appropriations demanded by the president.  Although these same measures were already passed by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate last month, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not allowing a vote on the new resolutions in order to shield Trump from public embarrassment.  However, this partisan maneuver puts McConnell squarely in the national spotlight as his fellow Republican senators feel the pressure to reopen the federal government.  See:

House Democrats vote to reopen government and deny Trump wall money, defying veto threat

McConnell Faces Pressure From Republicans to Stop Avoiding Shutdown Fight

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury has announced that the national debt has risen to a new high caused by the regressive tax cuts passed by the GOP in late 2017, and the government shutdown is further harming American farmers already hit by Trump’s ill-advised trade wars.  Also, stock markets are rebounding today partially in reaction to a strong jobs report after a very rocky December.  See:

US national debt reaches a new high under Trump

As loans and aid dry up, U.S. farmers face fresh challenge from shutdown

Stock market on the verge of panic-like buying as Dow surges nearly 700 points

In other news, Trump’s latest bizarre revisionist history commentary about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 has triggered backlash from Afghan officials and head-shaking from foreign policy analysts.  It’s also consistent with his obvious pro-Russian bias which has led the world to suspect that the American president is beholden to Vladimir Putin.  Since before winning the White House, Trump has sided with Russia in disputes with U.S. allies and with the U.S. intelligence community.  His long list of such support includes vehement opposition to official investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the now-infamous Helsinki summit, his echoing of Russian propaganda about a nonexistent Polish military threat to Belarus, and his animosity towards the government of the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro which survived a Russian-backed coup attempt in October 2016 intended to prevent it from joining NATO.  Trump’s hostility was exposed when he rudely pushed Montenegro’s Prime Minister Duško Marković out of the way at a meeting in May 2017.  See:

‘We gave more than enough sacrifices’: Afghans blast Trump’s praise of the Soviet invasion

Senate Democrats threaten to block Trump administration invite to sanctioned Russian official

Finally, there is no further news on the secret Mueller investigation case recently taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding an anonymous foreign corporation’s attempt to not comply with a grand jury subpoena.  Since this is Friday, when controversial news receives the least attention, it’s possible something might happen later today.

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