Reason Roundup

With Pelosi Back in Power, Impasse Over Border Wall Drags On: Reason Roundup

Plus: Democrats divided on deficit-neutral spending and an autopsy of The Weekly Standard.


Phil McAuliffe/Polaris/Newscom

"Does anyone have any doubt that we're not doing a wall?" Votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday cleared the way for Nancy Pelosi to resume her leadership role on Capitol Hill, for headscarves to be worn on the House floor, and for the creation of a select committee on climate change.

As expected, Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) was crowned speaker in the newly Democrat-controlled House. According to the White House, she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) will meet with President Donald Trump again today to plot an end to the partial shutdown of the federal government that's been going on for the past two weeks. But how any agreement will come about is unclear.

Trump reiterated yesterday that he won't approve any funding deal that doesn't include $5 billion for his border wall.

Pelosi, meanwhile, told reporters yesterday that "we're not doing a wall. Does anyone have any doubt that we're not doing a wall?"

The House yesterday did pass a temporary funding package. It "includes a bill to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels—with $1.3 billion for border security, far less than Trump has said he wants—through Feb. 8 as bipartisan talks would continue," reports Business Insider. It was approved along with a measure to continue funding the Agriculture, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development departments through September.

But not all Democrats dug the package—Reps. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D–N.Y.), and Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) all voted against it out of opposition to "PAYGO" rules requiring spending increases to be deficit-neutral. And the White House has promised to reject the agreement, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to put it up for a vote there.

Despite this delayed dealmaking, many Democrats rejoiced yesterday as new members of the 116th Congress were sworn in. This Congress features a record number of women lawmakers (127, including 25 in the Senate and 102 in the House), as well as an array of identity-category firsts. The House will see its first Native American female members—Deb Haaland (D–N.M.) and Sharice Davids (D–Kansas)—along with a new youngest member (Ocasio-Cortez) and the first Muslim women (Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota). Tlaib was sworn in yesterday on Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Quran.

Some are saying that Tlaib is also the first Palestinian member of Congress, but Michigan Republican Justin Amash points out that this isn't so:


What killed The Weekly Standard? Following last month's shuttering of the influential neocon magazine founded by Bill Kristol, The New Yorker offers an autopsy. "In the press, the magazine's demise was a media story, confined to the inside pages and told in a tone of half-sympathetic reminiscence," notes Benjamin Wallace-Wells. "But the death of the major intellectual journal of conservatism, at a time of profound transition for the right, is about more than the strategic calculations of a media holding company in Denver." More:

The decisive turn in conservatism during the half decade when the Standard shed subscribers and, eventually, its owners' faith, was toward Trumpism, an evolution that the Standard opposed so vociferously that for a long time it has been hard to separate Bill Kristol's public persona from the anti-Trump cause. (As the 2016 Republican Convention neared, Kristol had frantically tried to recruit a challenger to Trump, a somewhat quixotic effort in which he was turned down by James Mattis, Mitt Romney, and eventually a National Review columnist named David French.) The division over the President among conservative élites has been especially sharp of late, as Mattis and Nikki Haley, favorites among Washington conservatives, left the administration, and Romney published an op-ed attacking the President two days before assuming his Senate seat. The Standard's sources, friends, and sensibility were on one side of this divide. Many of its subscribers, fatally, were on the other….

A magazine like the Standard depends upon social currency of at least two kinds. One is inside Washington, a prestige that guarantees both its influence in Republican administrations and congressional offices and its access to important sources. The Standard never really lost this currency, despite its rift with the President. The final issue's cover story was a friendly interview with Haley, who seems as likely as anyone to lead the Republican Party after Trump. But, for the magazine to thrive, it required a broader brand, too. For years, to name-check the Standard was to project a certain image: that you were conservative without being brutish or anti-modern, that you had some ecumenicism and intellectual style. That kind of currency filtered back to Colorado, where some of Anschutz's executives at Clarity Media moved in Republican donor circles. "Whenever Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan or Cory Gardner would go through Colorado and have an event, they would say, 'Oh, you guys own the Standard! It's great,' and they liked being part of that," the senior Standard editor told me. The aura it cast was not unlike the one supplied by The Economist—name-drop it in a mundane setting and it suggested that you had access to a broader and more imaginative world.


• A preview of state abortion battles in 2019.

• Defeated drug warriors are getting desperate.

• What the new movie Vice gets wrong about Dick Cheney.

• If you legalize it, will they come? New York faces challenges prying weed sales out of the black market.

• New on Netflix and celebrated at the Golden Globes, Girl "sounds like a film that transgender moviegoers might rally around." And yet

• Ohio is raising its marriage age age for girls to the same age it is for boys.

Yikes: "The cost of living has risen faster in Seattle than in any other American city."

• What's in a white-sounding name?

• Power versus power: