What to Know
- Trump is taking the shutdown battle to the border, seeking to bolster his case for the border wall after negotiations with Democrats blew up
- The ongoing federal government shutdown has stopped most food safety inspections, but the FDA is planning to resume at least some of them
- After a public plea seeking potential victims of famed rapper R. Kelly to come forward, officials are following up on calls they've received
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Trump's Border Visit Comes as Shutdown Talks Fall Apart
President Trump is taking the shutdown battle to the U.S.-Mexico border, seeking to bolster his case for the border wall after negotiations with Democrats blew up over his funding demands. Trump stalked out of his meeting with congressional leaders — "I said bye-bye," he tweeted soon after — as efforts to end the partial government shutdown fell into deeper disarray. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers now face lost paychecks. During his stop in McAllen, Texas, Trump will visit a border patrol station for a roundtable on immigration and border security, and will get a security briefing on the border. But Trump has expressed his own doubts that his appearance and remarks will change any minds, as he seeks $5.7 billion for the wall that has been his signature promise since his presidential campaign. McAllen is located in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest part of the border for illegal border crossings.
Government Shutdown Stops FDA Food Safety Inspections
The ongoing federal government shutdown has stopped most food safety inspections, but the Food and Drug Administration is planning to resume at least some of them. To do it, the agency will have to force furloughed workers to come back without pay. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he is trying to pinpoint the most essential inspections, while making sure that employees do not suffer too much. “There’s no question of whether it’s business as usual at FDA,” Gottlieb told NBC News. “It’s not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances. There are important things we are not doing.” This means FDA inspectors are not looking for salmonella in breakfast cereal, E. coli in romaine lettuce, or listeria in ice cream. Companies can still make their own checks, of course, and the FDA is still announcing those recalls.
Food Stamps Will Be Funded Through February, USDA Says
The Trump administration says benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, will be funded through February should the government shutdown continue. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is asking states to issue the February benefits on or before Jan. 20 so that they can be paid to the nearly 40 million Americans in the program. SNAP is already fully funded for January. The USDA said it can fund SNAP through February thanks to the short-term funding bill that ran out on Dec. 22. That bill included a provision giving federal agencies the authority to make obligated payments to support certain programs for 30 days after its expiration date. Brandon Lipps, an acting deputy undersecretary, said other USDA programs will also be funded through February, including school lunches, food distribution programs on Indian reservations and child nutrition programs.
Chicago SA Reviewing Calls After Plea to Potential R. Kelly Vics
After Kim Foxx's public plea seeking potential victims of famed rapper R. Kelly to come forward, the Cook County State's Attorney's office said it is following up on calls it has since received. "We can confirm that the office has received calls related to this matter," a spokesperson for the office said in a statement Wednesday. "We are in the process of reviewing and following up on these calls and have no additional information to provide at this time." Police confirmed they conducted a "business check" at Kelly's recording studio on the city's West Side. "We have no criminal complaints from anyone about the location but we strongly urge anyone that may have information on potential criminal activity to please contact police," CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. Steven Greenburg, Kelly's attorney, said in a phone interview there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Judge Tosses Ashley Judd's Sex Harassment Claim Against Weinstein
A federal judge again threw out part of the actor Ashley Judd's sexual harassment and defamation lawsuit against the film producer Harvey Weinstein. U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez first threw out the sexual harassment part of Judd's claim in September, finding that Weinstein and Judd didn't have a specific kind of professional relationship that allowed such claims under California law. Gutierrez ruled at the time and again Wednesday that Judd could proceed with her defamation claim against Weinstein, NBC News reported.