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News Brief: Week of Dec. 30-Jan. 5


Government shutdown

The shutdown of all nonessential government services entered its third week Sunday, putting the livelihoods of around 800,000 government workers and their families in jeopardy.

President Donald Trump said the partial shutdown could continue “for months or years” unless he receives $5.9 billion from Congress to begin construction on a southern border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Approximately 380,000 government employeesincluding 52,000 IRS workers and 96 percent of NASA employeeshave been furloughed without pay since Dec. 22, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Hundreds of thousands of essential government workers, including TSA agents and air traffic controllers, are forced to work without knowing when their next paycheck will arrive. Since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, an increasing number of TSA agents have called in sick to work, causing the security wait time to nearly double at some major airports.

Trump and other White House staff met with senior congressional aides on Saturday to try to negotiate an end to the shutdown, but “there was not much headway made,” according to Trump.

Nancy Pelosi elected Speaker of the House

After assuming majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to be the Speaker of the House on Thursday. Pelosi served as speaker in the Bush and Obama administrations from January 2007 to January 2011.

In her address to Congress, Pelosi asked for Republican help in ending the weeks-long government shutdown and implored House members to pass legislation lowering health care costs and giving additional rights to people in the LGBTQ community.

Just 15 of 220 House Democrats declined to vote for Pelosi.

Stock market rebounding

After weeks of losses, a strong jobs report and news of impending trade talks between China and the U.S. contributed to a surging stock market on Friday.

The S&P 500 rose 2.6 percent, while the NASDAQ jumped 3.3 percent, largely making up for the losses investors saw in the weeks prior.

According to the Department of Labor, the U.S. economy added 312,000 jobs in December, more than doubling the 155,000 jobs created in November.

U.S. trade representatives will meet with Chinese officials in Beijing on Monday, according to China’s Commerce Ministry. A trade war between the two nations began last June when President Donald Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods and the nation retaliated with $34 billion in tariffs on American products.


Horn sworn into Congress

In spite of a weeks-long government shutdown, Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Oklahoma, was sworn into Congress on Thursday afternoon.

By a narrow margin, Horn defeated Republican incumbent Steve Russell in November to become the first Democratic representative of Oklahoma’s 5th District since 1973. District 5 includes most of Oklahoma County, as well as nearby rural Pottawatomie and Seminole counties.  

Horn’s first official voteto appoint Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to Speaker of the Housecame immediately after her swearing-in ceremony.

Winter storm hits Oklahoma

A winter storm slammed the western half of Oklahoma on Wednesday and Thursday, dropping record amounts of snow and ice and causing several vehicle accidents.  

The first round of wintry precipitation came in the form of freezing rain Wednesday afternoon, causing a dangerous afternoon rush-hour commute in the Oklahoma City metro. By early Thursday morning, the freezing rain had transitioned to snow in most areas.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers said they responded to three fatality wrecks in different areas of the state between 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday evening and 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning.

Moderate to heavy snow arrived in central Oklahoma late Thursday afternoon and continued until approximately midnight. Oklahoma City received between 4 and 6 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

The official snow measurement at Will Rogers World Airport was 4.5 inches, breaking the previous Jan. 3 record of 2.7 inches set in 1973.

No tornado deaths in 2018

For the first time since 2006, no tornado deaths were reported in Oklahoma in 2018.

Just 41 tornadoes touched down last year in Oklahoma, 15 fewer than the annual average of 56. Of those 41 tornadoes, just two were rated EF2 or higher, according to the National Weather Service.

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