In our news wrap Monday, Congress must approve a budget for the Department of Homeland Security by Friday. If lawmakers can’t break the impasse over the president’s immigration actions, about 30,000 workers could be furloughed. Also, winter’s latest icy blast moved south, causing the cancellation of more than 1,900 flights and hundreds of road accidents.
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Winter's latest icy blast took aim at the South today, disrupting travel again. By this afternoon, more than 1,900 flights had been canceled. The ice storm hit Texas and neighboring states in force, causing hundreds of accidents and leaving cars abandoned on highways in Dallas and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, a new arctic chill spread from the Midwest to New England, with windchills diving to minus-40 around parts of the Great Lakes.
Congress opened a crucial week today, facing a Friday deadline to approve a budget for the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans say they will only agree to pass a funding bill if President Obama's immigration plan is rolled back. Senate Democrats have resisted, insisting that domestic security concerns come first.
Secretary Jeh Johnson appealed today for an end to the stalemate. JEH JOHNSON, Secretary of Homeland Security: A shutdown of Homeland Security would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland. I am urging in the four or so working days they have this week to figure out a way to break the impasse, so that we get a fully funded budget for Homeland Security.
Late this afternoon, Republicans tried and failed again to bring up their bill in the Senate. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso charged Democrats must bear the blame if the impasse continues.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, (R) Wyoming: Why are Democrats being obstructive in the way that they are? Why are the Democrats so eager to cut off funding for the Department of Homeland Security? Well, the answer is, this is a disagreement not about funding Homeland Security. It's about our nation's immigration policy and the president's executive amnesty, an action which I believe is illegal.
A short-term funding extension may yet be possible. But if the department does run out of money, about 30,000 workers would be furloughed. Another 200,000 are considered essential, and would keep working, but without pay.
A federal jury in New York today found the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization liable in a series of terror attacks in Israel. The jury awarded $218 million in damages to relatives of 10 Americans killed or wounded in the attacks. They took place between 2002 and 2004. Palestinian officials said they will appeal.
The Center for Responsive Politics reports that last year's elections were the most expensive midterms ever. Altogether, Republicans and Democrats and their allied groups spent almost $3.8 billion. But that record-setting sum came from a smaller pool of donors. That had not happened since 1990.
President Obama called today for tougher rules on financial brokers who manage retirement accounts. The proposal would make advisers disclose all fees received for recommending investments. The president told an AARP gathering the goal is to make sure clients' interests come first.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
There are a lot of very fine financial advisers out there, but there are also financial advisers who receive backdoor payments or hidden fees for steering people into bad retirement investments that have high fees and low returns.
The financial services industry opposes the draft rule. It argues brokers are already well-regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sales of new homes across the country fell nearly 5 percent in January. That's the slowest pace in nine months. The National Association of Realtors said winter weather was partly to blame.
That news, plus a drop in oil prices, sent Wall Street mostly lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 23 points to close near 18100. The Nasdaq rose five points. And the S&P 500 lost less than a point.
And Hollywood handed out new hardware last night, but the Oscars show fell flat with viewers. The audience was down 16 percent from a year ago. The dark comedy "Birdman" won four awards, including best picture and best director. Britain's Eddie Redmayne won best actor as afflicted scientist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything." And Julianne Moore won best actress as a woman with Alzheimer's in "Still Alice."