Morning Update: New Congress, Same Ol' Dysfunction

Democrats take over the House, Theresa May is running out of options, your weekend longreads. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Jan. 4.

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The shutdown isn’t ending anytime soon, even if the House passed a plan to reopen the government

Yesterday, the Democrats took over the House of Representatives. Then the House passed legislation that would fully fund the government. However, that legislation is heading nowhere — the shutdown isn’t over.

The House bills would fund the suspended agencies through the end of September, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which would receive short-term funding.

But it’s all for nothing: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already said he will not bring the bills forward for a vote in the Senate.

President Trump said he will refuse to sign the bill since it does not include border wall funding. That is a nonstarter for Democrats, and no resolution seems imminent.

Members of Congress now openly speculate about the shutdown lasting months. An estimated 800,000 federal workers are affected.

You should also know:

👉 Nancy Pelosi is officially speaker of the House again. No one was more excited about this than her granddaughter.

👉 Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to the House, was sworn in using Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the Qur’an.

Theresa May’s team thinks she will lose the looming Brexit vote and is sketching out what to do next

After a brief pause for the holidays, the British Parliament is ready to resume its drama. In 11 days, Prime Minister Theresa May will endure a “meaningful vote” on her deal to withdraw from the European Union.

By all indications, her deal doesn’t have any more of a chance of passing than it did before the break. May’s close allies privately concede they are on course to lose the vote set for Jan. 15.

Read Alex Wickham’s analysis of the limited options May and her team are working with.


National Geographic has paused Neil deGrasse Tyson’s show after sexual misconduct allegations. After four women accused the star scientist of sexual misconduct, including rape, a spokesperson for the network told us that it “chose to hold new episodes of StarTalk until the investigation is completed.”

A couple obsessed with mass shootings were charged with plotting a massacre at a bar. Elizabeth Lecron and Vincent Armstrong were indicted in federal court for conspiring to use explosives and firearms to launch the attack. The Ohio couple visited Columbine High School and exchanged letters with the Charleston church mass shooter.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z helped boost the Louvre to a record number of visitors. Around 10.2 million people went there in 2018 — the most visitors ever to a museum in a year. The Louvre’s staff credited the boost to a recovery in Paris tourism and to Beyoncé and Jay, who shot their “Apeshit” music video there.

This teen is fighting cheating accusations after her SAT score improved by 300 points. Kamilah Campbell first scored 900 out of 1600. She says she worked diligently on improving. When she retook the test, her new score — 1230 — was flagged for too much improvement and deemed “invalid.”

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch star Will Poulter said he’s stepping back from social media after online criticism. The show was well received by many fans, but some viewers used Twitter to mock Poulter's appearance and performance. Poulter said he was taking a break from Twitter to protect his mental health.

A sanctuary city movement is beginning in Europe

Italy’s far-right interior minister recently introduced a law that strips legal status from tens of thousands of immigrants already in the country.

But in an unprecedented move, mayors of some of Italy’s largest cities have vowed to defy the new law. Leoluca Orlando, the mayor of the southern port city of Palermo, is spearheading the movement, joined by mayors from cities including Florence, Naples, and Parma.

The mayors are ordering registrars to ignore the new law and to keep immigrants on their books. The movement has some similarities with the sanctuary cities movement in the United States.

Lester Feder and Francesco Bellina talked to the mayor leading this revolt, and their report is well worth your time.

Some great essays to keep you company this weekend

How Zine Libraries Are Highlighting Marginalized Voices. Zines have a long history of being a way for marginalized communities to record their stories and organize. As Rosie Knight notes in a great essay, “Over the past two decades, historians and librarians have been archiving zines...These collections enable these stories to be shared and protected, where they would likely otherwise be ignored and erased.”

How A YouTube Yoga Channel Helped Me Get Over My Fear Of Working Out. What do you do when your body is angry with you, when you don’t feel in tune with it? Delia Cai wrote a thoughtful reflection on a YouTube yoga channel that helped mend that relationship: “...doing these YouTube yoga videos over the years has disarmed some deeply held anxieties I’d always attached to working out — and to reckoning with my body in general.”

A Netflix Movie Doesn’t Need To Be Good — It Just Needs To Be There. Have you seen Bird Box? The movie set off a giant conversation while Netflix barely had to lift a finger to market it. It made me think of this smart piece from Alison Willmore: “in the frictionless world of streaming, the fact that you would have felt cheated if you'd paid money to see it no longer applies. You've already paid for it...You might as well watch.”

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