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Vox Sentences: Rand Paul’s pointless government shutdown

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Sen. Rand Paul mounts the “stupidest” shutdown ever; it’s Winter Olympics time!

This has been another edition of “colossal waste of time” with your host, Rand Paul

Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • The government technically — albeit briefly — shut down last night, between the hours of midnight and 5:30 am, when lawmakers finally voted to fund the government for one more month. [Vox / Dylan Scott, Ella Nilsen, and Tara Golshan]
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) technically shut down the government singlehandedly, after filibustering a short-term spending and budget bill. His filibuster, which began at roughly 6 pm, forced the Senate to miss the midnight spending deadline, leaving the government to run out of money for several hours. [Associated Press / Alan Fram]
  • Paul was angry that the spending deal — which extended government funding through March 23, in addition to establishing a massive boost to investments in domestic programs and the military by roughly $300 billion over the next two years and increasing the debt ceiling for one year — would break the government budget caps that were set in 2013. [NYT / Thomas Kaplan]
  • Eventually the agreement passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and the only thing Paul really achieved was annoying all his Senate colleagues, Democrat and Republican, who called his performance a “colossal waste of time.”
  • [Politico / Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade]
  • But the filibuster wasn’t the only source of government shutdown drama. In the House, conservatives also mounted a mini revolt when they, like Paul, said they wouldn’t vote for the agreement because of its massive increases to domestic spending. This forced Republican leadership to seek Democratic support in the lower chamber. [USA Today / Eliza Collins]
  • Meanwhile, House Democrats were frustrated that the budget agreement set aside the question of immigration and what to do about the sunsetting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was at the heart of the standoff in January that ended in a three-day shutdown. [Roll Call/ Lindsey McPherson]
  • In the end, enough House Democrats ended up voting for the budget and spending agreement that the government was funding by roughly 5:30 am Friday, and President Trump signed the bill, preventing government employees from being furloughed. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • This result, however, poses major questions for how the immigration debate will go forward. It’s been stalled for weeks, and the political headwinds around DACA are strong in the House. [Washington Post / Paul Waldman]

The Winter Olympics bring a diplomatic thaw

  • The Winter Olympics have officially kicked off in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The opening ceremonies technically already happened because South Korea is 14 hours ahead of the US, but they’ll be broadcast tonight. [Vox / Alex Abad-Santos]
  • Given that North Korea will participate in this year’s Olympic Games, there’s been plenty of diplomatic awkwardness to go around. Vice President Mike Pence was seated just a few feet away from Kim Yo Jong, the sister and trusted adviser of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • The two Koreas marched under one unified flag during the opening ceremonies, and have also formed a joint women’s hockey team to compete. This is the culmination of a larger, and quiet, effort at diplomacy between the two Koreas, and it comes at a crucial time of heightened nuclear tensions. [NYT / Jane Perlez, Choe Sang-Hun, and Rebecca Ruiz]
  • The Olympics are also causing headaches among locals. Pyeongchang is in South Korea’s relatively quiet, rural region. But because it’s the prime location for the Winter Games, some locals have literally had to permanently move to make room for the influx of activity. [Washington Post / Chico Harlan]


  • President Trump’s enemy No. 1 is reading, according to a new report that finds he’s been getting oral briefings rather than reading them himself. [Washington Post / Carol D. Leonnig, Shane Harris, and Greg Jaffe]
  • Parents of budding Olympic figure skaters can expect to shell out somewhere between $35,000 and $50,000 per year to go for the gold. All that training, costumes, and travel costs money ... and there’s not a lot of profit in return. [Money Magazine / Kaitlin Mulhere]
  • Black Panther opens next week, and the superhero film will do something rare: showcase natural black hair in multiple forms on the big screen. [The Cut / Ashley Weatherford]
  • The Catholic Church is trying to carve out new followers among China’s fast-growing Christian population, but they’re having trouble competing with the Protestants. [Atlantic / Caroline Kitchener]


“Consider the poodle: the fluffy stalwart of the Upper East Side, the pooch par excellence of fancy white-glove co-ops. Lately, it’s been roughing it downtown.” [NYT / Stefanos Chen]

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