The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.

The Darsch Report: June 21 to 27

Armed man barges into Bexar County Elections Office

On Friday morning, June 25, a 24-year-old man, whom authorities suspect was hallucinating from drugs, barged into the Bexar County Elections Office after he had fired shots inside a nearby hotel room

According to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, Jouwan D. Williams Thomas jumped over the counter in the office on South Frio Street around 10 a.m. and said he was being chased. The suspect went into a secured area before a SWAT unit and other law enforcement personnel quickly arrived and apprehended the suspect. No injuries were reported.

While Thomas didn’t open fire inside the elections office, he did fire several shots of a 9mm handgun that penetrated some rooms at a Quality Inn nearby, Salazar said. No injuries were reported at the hotel. Salazar said the suspect had a high-capacity magazine in the gun and a similar magazine in the hotel room.

Salazar said it was initially believed that Thomas fired shots because of a drug deal gone bad, but it now appears that he may have been suffering from a drug-induced incident. High-grade marijuana and possibly synthetic marijuana were found in the room.

State Sen. José Menéndez was in the back of the elections office for a meeting with officials when the incident happened, Salazar said.

“They were pretty scared,” Salazar said of the election staff. “They locked down, sheltered in place. Kudos to the elections staff.”

Texan Voter Fraud

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Friday, June 25, that the Election Fraud Unit arrested and booked Monica Mendez into the Victoria County Jail on June 23, 2021, after a Victoria County Grand Jury returned an indictment against her on 31 counts of election fraud.

Mendez is being charged on 7 counts of Illegal Voting (a 2nd Degree Felony), 8 counts of Unlawfully Assisting Voter Voting Ballot by Mail (a 3rd Degree Felony), 8 counts of Unlawful Possession of a Ballot (a State Jail Felony), and 8 counts of Election Fraud (a State Jail Felony).

The charges relate to eight mail-in ballots in a May 2018 water district board election in Bloomington, a town of around 2,500 residents near Victoria.

According to the press release, the Texas Secretary of State referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office after Bloomington residents raised allegations of illegal voting and other election code violations. One specific concern being that about 275 people, out of a town of 2,500, tried to register as new voters using the same mailing address, according to local government officials.

Other residents of Bloomington were supposedly threatened with rent increases if they did not vote for their landlord’s preferred candidate in the local water department elections.

Miami Condo Collapse

Rescue efforts continue in the search of all those missing after Thursday’s June 24 tragedy in which a Surfside condo collapsed.

As of Sunday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the death toll had risen to 9, and the number of people missing was reduced to 152. “We were able to recover four additional bodies in the rubble as well as additional human remains,” the mayor said.

Additionally, although the investigation has just begun, experts who have examined video footage of the disaster outside Miami are focusing on a spot in the lowest part of the condominium complex—possibly in or below the underground parking garage—where an initial failure could have set off a structural avalanche.

Called “progressive collapse,” the gradual spread of failures could have occurred for a variety of reasons, including design flaws or the less robust construction allowed under the building codes of four decades ago, when the complex was built. But that progression could not have occurred without some critical first failure. Close inspections of a grainy surveillance video that emerged in the initial hours after the disaster has given the first hints of where that might have been.

“It does appear to start either at or very near the bottom of the structure,” said Donald O. Dusenberry, a consulting engineer who has investigated many structural collapses. “It’s not like there’s a failure high, and it pancaked down.”

US Economy

Supported by positive news from the Federal Reserve and hopes that a good infrastructure deal would be announced soon, the stock market did well over the past week. The Dow Jones increased to 34,433.84 on Friday, increasing by +1,143.76 points, or +3.44 percent over its June 18 close of 33,290.08. The S&P 500 increased by +114.25 points or +2.74 percent on Friday to a record high of 4,280.70. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Friday by +2.35 percent.

China Announces Crewed Missions to Mars

Last week the People’s Republic of China announced plans to send its first crewed mission to Mars in 2033 as it continues to boost its space ambitions in a battle with the U.S.

Wang Xiaojun, head of the state-owned China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, outlined the country’s Mars plans for the first time this month at a space conference in Russia, according to the academy.

It comes just weeks after China landed a remote-controlled rover called Zhurong on Mars, making it the only country after the U.S. to do so.

Wang said the first step in China’s plans is to use robots to explore Mars to sample its surface and help select a place to build a base. The next stage would be to send astronauts up to Mars to build a base station there. Then China wants large-scale Earth-to-Mars cargo missions.

China has earmarked 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041, and 2043 for such missions and said it would explore technology to fly astronauts back to Earth.

The revelation of China’s Mars goals comes after a string of successful space missions. China has begun construction of its own space station and earlier this month sent the first astronauts up there. It was the first time China sent a crewed mission to space since 2016.

NASA says it plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

The Texan Border

Over the weekend, nearly 100 days after being appointed by President Joe Biden to address the immigration crisis at the southern border, Vice-President Kamala Harris visited an El Paso border facility.

During a press conference, Harris touted “extreme progress” made by the Biden administration in tackling the migrant surge despite inheriting a “tough situation” due to the “disastrous effects” of the Trump administration’s border policies. 

When asked why she visited El Paso instead of areas that have been more acutely hit, like the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Harris explained that El Paso was where a number of Trump policies, like the Remain-in-Mexico policy and child separation policies, were implemented. 

This comes as more than 180,000 migrants were apprehended at the southern border in May, an increase over the 178,000 encountered in April and 173,000 encountered in March—all representing the highest numbers in years. In addition, 173,000 in March was a big increase from the 100,000 migrants encountered in February.

With or without help from the Biden Administration, Governor Greg Abbott is continuing to promote the continued building of a border wall along the Texan-Mexican border. Over the span of about a week, Texas received $459,000 in private donations for the state’s planned wall at the southern border, the governor’s office said Wednesday.

This comes after the governor promised a $250 million “down payment” in state funds for the project.

County Commissioner Candidate Falsifies Campaign Contribution Reports

Christine Hortick, a candidate for County Commissioner in Bexar County, has raised over $7,000 in political contributions to her campaign. According to members of her opponent Trish DeBerry’s Finance Committee, at least 17% of that money comes from falsified donation claims. 

The DeBerry Campaign first noticed the discrepancies in Hortick’s campaign contribution reports when Daniel Ortiz, a member of DeBerry’s Finance Committee, was notified that he had erroneously been listed on the report. “This is extremely upsetting,” said Ortiz. “I am shocked to find my name on Ms. Hortick’s campaign report. I have thrown my full support behind Trish [DeBerry] and, until this morning, had very little information about her opponent. I should be removed.” In addition to Ortiz, Brad Carson and Debra Guerrero were also listed as financial supporters of Hortick’s campaign, despite both stating that they have never supported, nor even met Hortick. Hortick claims to have received $1,250 in total from these three individuals. It begs the question: how many other campaign contributions have been falsified on Hortick’s report?

It is a felony to falsify governmental records. Hortick, or at least members of her campaign, allegedly committed a felony in falsifying this information to further her campaign’s success. When asked about Hortick’s campaign contribution reports, DeBerry said: “a complaint should be filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.” DeBerry also said that a complaint should be leveled against Hortick with the Bar Association because, as a practicing attorney with her own private practice, she should be held accountable for such a discrepancy happening under her nose. 

“The fact that it was riddled with errors makes me wonder if she even reviewed the report. It’s sloppy and unprofessional”

-Trish DeBerry

The campaign contribution and expense reports made 30 days before the election are some of the most important documents to a candidate’s campaign. “The fact that it was riddled with errors makes me wonder if she even reviewed the report. It’s sloppy and unprofessional,” DeBerry said. “This tells voters that my opponent is not to be trusted. If she can’t manage $7,000 in campaign contributions, how is she going to handle a $2B Bexar County budget?”

The Darsch Report: Oct. 21- 27

40 Arrested in Bexar County as Part of Nationwide Roundup

As part of a nationwide roundup, forty fugitives wanted on misdemeanor or felony family violence warrants were arrested on Wednesday. The roundup was part of the 17th Annual National Family Violence Apprehension warrant roundup in which the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office participated.

“This is the first time that the BCSO (participated) in this national warrant roundup, and (we) are proud of the success it brought in apprehending these individuals who were wanted on family violence charges,” the department stated in a news release.

During the operation, the sheriff’s office visited over 100 locations throughout the process of searching for the fugitives. Everyone was taken into custody without incident and of the forty arrested, 3 were documented gang members.

You can find a list of the fugitives arrested along with their charges here.

Father Given Say in 7-year-old Son’s Gender Transition

In Texas, father Jeff Younger has been in a desperate battle to keep the boy, 7, from undergoing a gender transition championed by the biological male’s mother. On Thursday, Oct 24th, Judge Kim Cooks ruled that both parents would have joint decision-making over all medical, dental and psychiatric care for their kids.

A ruling in favor of the mother could have allowed her to move forward with plans to potentially give the boy puberty blockers after she received a letter of recommendation from Dallas Rainbow Therapy, urging that he “receive a full psychological assessment for gender dysphoria and potentially take hormone blockers,” The Washington Examiner reported.

This comes after much controversy following the Monday ruling in which the jury ruled in favor of the mother. The ruling would have forced Younger to affirm the child’s identity by using the name “Luna,” something recommended by James’ therapists. Younger had petitioned the court for full custody of their children but was ultimately shot down.

According to the child’s mother, who works as a pediatrician, James is transgender, identifies as a girl, likes to wear dresses and goes by the name “Luna.” Younger says James is a happy boy, and he contends that a “social transition” or “medical transition” would not be in his best interest.

Republicans Storm Impeachment Hearing

On Wednesday, Oct 23rd, dozens of House Republicans stormed a closed-door meeting of the impeachment inquiry, breaking up the deposition of a top Defense Department official who was testifying about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The meeting was taking place in the Capitol basement where Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, was set to provide private testimony. The deposition got underway after a five-hour delay. Several lawmakers said that, in response to the Republican protest on Wednesday morning, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) left the room with Cooper and postponed her interview.

“The fact that Adam Schiff won’t even let the press in — you can’t even go in and see what’s going on in that room,” Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told reporters outside the hearing room. “Voting members of Congress are being denied access from being able to see what’s happening behind these closed doors, where they’re trying to impeach the president of the United States with a one-sided set of rules, they call the witnesses.”

Many members of the House Freedom Caucus joined the protest including GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Bradley Byrne (Ala.), and Chip Roy (Tex.). 

Congressmen Roy expressed frustration during the meeting, telling House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (MD-7) “that we ought to be able to see the transcripts.”

“I ended up ultimately relenting after a while and making noise to try to make the point,” he said. “Again, not trying to be disrespectful. They’re in the majority. They can set the process, but this ought to be more transparent.”

ISIS Leader Now Dead

On Sunday, Oct 27th, President Donald Trump announced to the nation that the Caliph of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died in a U.S.-led raid in northwestern Syria.

President Trump said that al-Baghdadi, who was 48 years old, killed himself and his three children, detonating a suicide vest in a tunnel while pursued by U.S. troops. Commenting on live footage of the raid, Trump remarked that the leader of ISIS “died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is a much safer place.”

Considered Islamic State’s inspirational leader, al-Baghdadi was responsible for its reign of terror as it amassed territory across Iraq and Syria in recent years. The group has displaced tens of thousands of people and perpetrated widespread barbarism, including rapes and video-recorded beheadings.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Baghdadi’s death created an opportunity to refocus U.S. strategy in Syria around reducing the U.S.’s presence, putting Kurds in control of oil resources and “building up the lives of people in the region.”

“This is a game changer in the war on terror,” Graham said. “The war is by no means over, but the caliphate is dead and the leader of the caliphate is dead, and that’s a big deal.”

However, not everyone is as happy as Trump of the death of al-Baghdadi. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California or other Democratic leaders in Congress are upset that Trump didn’t notify them of the raid but instead chose to tell key House Republicans as well as Russia.

“The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance, and on the Administration’s overall strategy in the region,” she stated.

Trump stated that he did not notify Democrats in Congress of the operation because of concerns of possible leaks.

California Residents Suffer Blackouts, Fires

In California, rolling blackouts have become the new norm for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of residents for the past week.

The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Corp., or PG&E, began shutting off electricity to nearly a half-million people Wednesday afternoon, the second massive blackout in two weeks. It said hot, dry winds and low humidity were creating a high risk of sparks and “rapid wildfire spread” from its long-neglected power lines.

Now with the Kincade fire that started Wednesday night, continuing to burn in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, millions of Californians are without power and 180,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from its path.

“We are deploying every resource available and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires,” Governor Gavin Newsom said, noting that more than 3,000 firefighters were battling the Kincade fire alone.

On Friday, the governor also lashed out at the utility company over what he called years of greed and mismanagement that brought about the crisis.

“That greed has precipitated in a lack of intentionality and focus on hardening their grid, undergrounding their transmission lines,” Newsom said at a news conference. “They simply did not do their job.”

Texas House Speaker Won’t Seek Reelection

On Tuesday, Oct 22nd, first-term Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced that he will not be seeking reelection to the lower chamber in 2020.

“After much prayer, consultation, and thoughtful consideration with my family, it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election as State Representative of District 25, and subsequently, as Speaker of the House,” Bonnen said in a statement. His statement included a list of 43 House Republicans, a majority of the House GOP Caucus, who the speaker said “have made clear that it is in the best interest of both myself and the House to move on.”

Bonnen’s political future was first called into question last month when activist Michael Quinn Sullivan, head of the conservative publication Empower Texans, alleged that Bonnen suggested that Empower Texans go after a list of 10 House Republicans and told Sullivan his group could have media access to the lower chamber in 2021. Bonnen also disparaged multiple Democrats, calling one “vile” and another “a piece of shit,” and said his goal for the next legislative session is to make it the worst “in the history of the legislature for cities and counties.”

To wash away any uncertainly over the meeting, Sullivan released his secret recording of that June 12 meeting last week, largely confirming his descriptions. Since then a growing number of House Republicans had either called for the speaker’s resignation or pulled support for the speaker.

After the speaker’s announcement Tuesday, Sullivan tweeted that Bonnen “could have behaved ethically” — but “instead chose lies, deceit, dishonor, and ruin.”

“He has gone from 3rd constitutional officer in Texas to a cautionary tale,” Sullivan wrote.

The Darsch Report: Feb. 4 – 10

Bexar County Child Sex Crime

On Thursday, Feb. 7, a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office records employee was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a child.

Jose Angel Laines, 44, is currently assigned to the Sheriff’s Office records section and has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since 2004.

“The disturbing allegations against this 14-year employee go back to at least a decade. We are glad our warrants team was able to get him into custody. We have already initiated termination proceedings and we stand ready to assist SAPD with whatever they may need,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said.

The press release said the Bexar County Sheriff’s Public Integrity Unit has begun an administrative investigation into the incident and is working in conjunction with the San Antonio Police Department pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Laines has been placed on unpaid administrative leave. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by contact and has a $75,000 bond for each charge.

Both the San Antonio Police Department and Bexar County Sheriff’s Public Integrity Unit have started their own investigations into the matter so hopefully, this case will be finished quickly so that the child and their family can begin to move past this horrific encounter.

Migrant Caravan on Texan Border

Since Feb. 4 roughly 1,800 Central American migrants intent on seeking asylum in the US have been playing a frustrating waiting game on the Mexican side of the Texas-Mexico border.

The migrants, who are mostly Honduran, are being housed in a former warehouse in Piedras Negras — and being guarded by Mexican law enforcement — while they wait to be let into the US.

Due to the very slow process of going through these migrants, US Customs and Border Protection officers are only able to process about 16 to 20 of the migrants a day according to CNN. This has lead to high tensions between law enforcement and the migrants with many being told by Mexican officials to return to Honduras.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has joined the US Border Patrol in stationing agents in Eagle Pass, Texas — on the banks of the north side of the Rio Grande. They’re meant to deter any migrants who might choose to cross the river instead of waiting their turn in Mexico

“As part of our border security plan we keep DPS on the border with boats & planes. They work with local & federal authorities to enforce the law,” Gov. Abbott tweeted alongside a picture of the law enforcement build up.

US and Mexican law enforcement need to possibly work together and process every single migrant to make sure that they are legitimate asylum seekers and not someone who would pose a threat to the US, Mexico or their citizens.

Green New Flop

Early on Feb. 7, NPR received the Frequently Asked Questions page of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY.) Green New Deal. It was immediately criticized by opponents and supporters alike until it was eventually taken down from down NPR’s and Cortez’s website later that day.

The FAQ was specifically ripped apart not for wanting to lower US carbon emissions, but how it plans to do that and the economic policies it proposes. It should also be noted that the Green New Deal is considered a “Non-Binding Agreement”, meaning that even if it passes, Congress is just saying that it will work towards lowering carbon emissions and the other goals laid out in the deal.

The FAQ states that “[i]t guarantees to everyone:

  • A job with family-sustaining wages, family and medical leave, vacations, and retirement security
  • High-quality education, including higher education and trade schools
  • High-quality health care
  • Clean air and water
  • Healthy food
  • Safe, affordable, adequate housing
  • An economic environment free of monopolies
  • Economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work…

and a transition away from nuclear to renewable power sources only”

The bill does not state how it plans on providing everyone in the US with these things or how it plans to pay for them. The phrase “economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work” is especially troubling as it will create an incentive for people to not work as they will be provided with everything that they need anyway “a job… healthcare… food…[and] housing.”

Though many in the US support the idea of a Green New Deal this bill is more of a government take over of the largest industries in America than an investment in renewable energy. Even going as far as to want to phase out nuclear, one of the most efficient and reliable energy sources that have little to no greenhouse gas emissions.

US Economy

It was a decent week for US stocks, with a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 25,106.33 on Friday, increasing by +42.44 points, or +0.17% percent over its Feb. 3 close of 25,063.89. The S&P 500 increased by +1.35 points or +0.05% percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -0.47 percent.

This comes on news that the US and China are still negotiating an end to the trade war with a deadline for reaching a deal by March 1. The economy did not do that well this week but it is still remaining positive. The US has a very volatile stock market at the moment but this volatility should go away by the end of 2019.

Possible Border Deal

On Saturday, Feb. 9, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said that both Republican and Democratic legislators were optimistic about coming to a bipartisan deal on border security that would avoid another government shutdown.

Hoyer said that he doesn’t know the specifics of the deal, including the amount for border barriers, but does “hope [that] as early as Monday we will hear what that agreement is.” Negotiators last Friday were closing in on a deal that many lawmakers are calling a rebuff to Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion dollars for a wall along parts of the US-Mexico border. Instead, lawmakers are focusing on a compromise that would give no more than $2 billion for border barriers.

Hoyer said that both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will bring the agreement to vote in their respective chambers but it currently appears that Trump may veto the deal with tweets he made about it on Feb. 10. Lawmakers have until Feb. 15 to come up with an agreement that can pass both chambers of Congress and be accepted by Trump otherwise we enter another partial shutdown.

Trump is not in that good of a position depending on what will be in the finalized compromise bill. He will get funding for barriers along the US southern border but many of his supporters may see it as too much of a compromise compared to his original demand of $25 billion back in 2017. Democrats may come out of this worse though as 93% of Democrats and Democratic leaners oppose expanding the wall along the southern border.