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The DC: Prisoners released under the First Step Act, and... 💬 Should Trump be allowed to give a State of the Union address? (Plus...a sneak peek of our podcast!)

by Countable | 1.17.19

Welcome to Thursday, captains of this ship of state...

Some of the first eligible federal prisoners have been released under the First Step Act ― a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2018.


The bill offers low- and minimum-risk federal inmates who participate in recidivism reduction programs the opportunity to earn time credits toward prerelease custody or supervised release at the end of their sentences.

Some think is the first step forward…

Some think this is 2,500 steps back...

And you? How do you feel about the First Step Act?

On the Radar

  • Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, raising serious questions about who will shoulder its $30 billion of liabilities associated with the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons. PG&E’s insurance isn’t enough to cover its liabilities for wildfires for which it’s partly to blame, and regulators are currently examining how much of that cost can be passed on to ratepayers. Ratepayers in PG&E’s service territory have no choice in utility providers because of PG&E’s status as a government-sanctioned monopoly, prompting debate over whether it’s fair to hold them financially responsible for the company’s history of neglecting the risks associated with wildfires. Is it time for state governments to stop granting electric utilities effective monopoly status?

  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has asked President Trump to reschedule his State of the Union Address or deliver it in writing to Congress if the government remains shut down. "Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your [SOTU] address in writing to the Congress on January 29th," Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump. Should Trump be allowed to give a State of the Union address?

Under the Radar

  • A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that furloughed government workers who are currently not being paid because of the partial shutdown must continue to do their jobs. "At best it would create chaos and confusion. At worst it could be catastrophic...I’m not going to put people’s lives at risk,” the judge said. The National Treasury Employees Union had brought the suit in consolidation with a claim from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The workers had petitioned for a temporary restraining order that would remove the obligation to go to work if they weren’t being paid. "Calling people back to work, as the federal government is doing, without paying them is unlawful," said attorney Gregory O'Duden, who’s representing the unions. Should "essential" employees have to work without pay during a shutdown?

  • The House on Tuesday formally rejected Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) remarks questioning why “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” is controversial language. The vote was near-unanimous, and the Republican Party has also stripped the hardline politician of his committee assignments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said King should look for another job. While various politicians and papers continue to call on King to step down, Iowa voters were aware of King’s nationalist ideology, racially offensive comments, and ties to white supremacist organizations in November 2018—and re-elected him into office during the midterms. Though King’s comments may be offensive to some, they are protected free speech and not against the law. Is calling for King’s removal ignoring the voters who re-elected him?

Your Gov at a Glance 👀

The White House: President Trump in D.C.

  • At 11:00am EST, the president will participate in the Missile Defense Review announcement at the Pentagon.
  • At 1:45pm EST, the president will receive his intelligence briefing.

The House of Representatives: In

  • Voting on a bill to reopen agencies affected by the partial government shutdown through the end of February.
  • Voting on a bill to include data about federal grants in a searchable online database.

The Senate: In

  • Voting on a bill to permanently ban federal funding for abortions (with exceptions).

What You're Saying

Here's how you're answering Should Congress Approve $12 Billion in Emergency Disaster Relief & Reopen Gov't Thru February 8th?

(Follow Vanessa's comment here.)

(Follow Denise's comment here.)

But wait, there's more!

And, in the End…

Do you need a quick and lively way to keep up with your government? A way that doesn’t require hours of slogging through hype & spin?

Take a sneak peak at The Daily Dose, our new podcast. You’re among the few who have access to it, and we’d love your thoughts before we fully launch. Give it a listen!

DD10: Should the Shutdown Scuttle Trump's State of the Union?

What do you think of the new podcast?

Happy birthday to Countable's spirit animal, Benjamin Franklin,

—Josh Herman

Talk to us via email at contact [at] countable.us. And don’t forget to keep in touch @Countable.

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