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Hey, Congress agreed on something!
- Congress had a big week. The House and Senate have agreed on a bipartisan budget to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. [Politico / Jennifer Scholtes and Caitlin Emma]
- The $1.4 trillion spending package, which passed the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday, will avert a government shutdown that otherwise would have started this weekend — assuming Trump signs the legislation. [Vox / Li Zhou]
- There’s a lot in the two bills making up the package, including a permanent repeal of the medical device tax, an end to the tax on “Cadillac” health plans, and more Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico. [AP News / Andrew Taylor]
- The legislation raises the smoking age to 21 for both regular and e-cigarettes. [BuzzFeed / Dan Vergano]
- It also includes a boost to the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, which gives funds to states to pay for child care for low-income families. [Time / Abby Vesoulis]
- And for the first time in 20 years, it allocates federal money to fund research on gun violence — a tiny amount that’s largely symbolic but could still make a big difference on public health. [FiveThirtyEight / Maggie Koerth]
- Trump will also get $1.4 billion for the border wall: far less than he asked for, but enough to anger the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which didn’t want the wall funded at all. [Dallas News / Tom Benning]
- Of course, Congress being Congress, the bill isn’t exactly on time. The fiscal year started two months ago. [Politico / Jennifer Scholtes and Caitlin Emma]
Fires, a heat wave, and a state of emergency
- The Australian state of New South Wales declared a state of emergency as record hot temperatures escalated already devastating wildfires across Australia. [CNN / Jessie Yeung and Sol Han]
- Twice this week, Australia reached temperatures as hot as 41.9 degrees Celsius (107.4 Fahrenheit), smashing previous records. [BBC]
- As a result, the nearly 100 wildfires raging around New South Wales stand to grow larger in the dry, hot conditions. [CBS News]
- Six are reported dead as a result of the blazes, with many more in danger from the flames and a layer of smoke settling on Australian cities. [NBC News / Isobel van Hagen]
- The UN is holding talks on a ship in the Red Sea to resume Yemen deal negotiations from last year. [AP News / Ahmed al-Haj]
- Baby Yoda dolls made by fans are flooding the market. Disney wants to crush them. [Wall Street Journal / R.T. Watson and Erich Schwartzel]
- Two major upcoming cases at the Supreme Court will put the “ministerial exemption” in the spotlight. [Vox / Ian Millhiser]
- A German judge ruled that an upstairs neighbor of a stinky cheese shop couldn’t post signs to express her frustration with the smell. [New York Times / Melissa Eddy]
- The Trump administration proposed allowing states to import prescription drugs from Canada to combat high drug prices. [Politico / Sarah Owermohle, Sarah Karlin-Smith, and Gary Fineout]
“If you’re applying to 10, 15, 20 schools, there’s no way that you’re going to get everything in, review every single thing, sign every single thing on time. There’s probably money being missed out on, applicants not being admitted, that kind of thing.” [Director of a Chicago organization that provides financial advice speaking about the issue of colleges primarily using email to contact prospective students]
Watch this: Impeachment is Trump’s ultimate loyalty test for Republicans
How impeachment turned into a test of loyalty to Trump for Republicans. [YouTube / Ezra Klein]
The real differences between the 2020 Democrats’ health care plans, explained
Santa isn’t the only one tracking you this holiday season. Stores are watching you, too.
What to expect at the sixth Democratic debate
The USMCA trade deal passes the House in a rare bipartisan vote
J.K. Rowling’s latest tweet seems like transphobic BS. Her fans are heartbroken.