News, Straight to the Point

WASHINGTON — Stalemate in the war over President Barack Obama's unilateral actions on immigration has put the Republican-led Congress on a path to partially shutting down the Department of Homeland Security on February 27.

With just five legislative days to go before the funding deadline, the House and Senate are at a standstill and there are growing signs that Congress won't act in time.

Here are five reasons why.

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Since news broke that Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) has an ornately-decorated congressional office styled after a room from Downton Abbey, there's been an increased focus on the Illinois congressman's spending. Schock, according to Politico and USA Today, charters private planes, stays in some of the most expensive hotels around the world, and uses a personal photographer. Here are a few of Schock's more lavish indulgences.

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You'd be forgiven for not understanding why measles vaccinations and the anti-vaccine movement have been dominating headlines the last two days, making it the improbable first litmus test for 2016 Republican presidential aspirants that has owned the latest news cycle.

Believe it or not, it all started at Disneyland.

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Even before it got to the Supreme Court, the latest challenge to Obamacare baffled the people who drafted the law and tracked its passage. Reporters, Hill staff, Congressional Budget Office analysts -- nobody recalled Congress intending for the law's crucial subsidies to be limited to state-run exchanges and invalid on the federal

That's what the King v. Burwell plaintiffs allege, though. In recent days, weeks and months, more and more evidence has emerged that nobody who was involved thought that the law works the way its opponents now say it does. As The New Republic's Brian Beutler put it last week, the conservative version of events "has crossed the fuzzy line dividing revisionist history from X-Files-style conspiracy theory."

Those supporting the challenge dismiss the findings as ex post facto and irrelevant to the case. But nevertheless, here are some of the latest bits of evidence to emerge.

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How quickly the mighty fall: less than a week after longtime New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) was arrested on federal corruption charges, his fellow Democrats have decided to replace him.

Although the criminal complaint from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office hit at the very top of the legislature's food chain, Silver was merely the latest in a long line of state lawmakers who have been whacked with federal corruption charges. Bharara's office has convicted at least a dozen elected officials in recent years and is in the process of prosecuting even more.

Which all begs the question: Just how did New York state get so damn corrupt?

Some people have acknowledged the state's propensity for bad behavior. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) made ethics reform a key part of his first term, creating a new body tasked with investigating corruption that was named the Moreland Commission. But Cuomo's goals were ultimately reduced to a bargaining chip in budget negotiations with, among other people, Silver.

As the New York Times reported last year, Cuomo eventually shuttered the Moreland Commission in March 2014 in exchange for the legislature agreeing to a scaled-back version of his ethics package. The irony is that Cuomo's closing of the commission is now also reportedly being investigated by Bharara.

TPM talked to some people who know New York politics to find out how the state got this way. Here are five points to know about the mess:

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Most state legislatures are opening for business this month, and that means that Medicaid expansion is once again becoming a hot issue. The last year has seen a number of Republican-led states start to bend on the program, and the new legislative sessions offer new opportunities to make headways in red America -- but could also put one pioneering state at risk.

Four or more conservative mainstays could expand Medicaid in the next year, while another state might become the first to back out of the program after first adopting it. Here's what you need to know.

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President Barack Obama faces a whole new landscape in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, buoyed by an improving economy and rising approval ratings but stymied by new Republican majorities in the House and Senate for the first time.

With five of his State of The Union addresses down and two more to go, including tonight's, here's the bare minimum you need to know about this overwrought oratorical anachronism that lives on despite itself.

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Fox News host Bob Beckel declared himself a proud "Islamophobe" Monday on "The Five" -- and it was only the latest in a long string of racist and offensive statements the network's token liberal has uttered on-air.

Beckel is the perfect liberal mouthpiece for the "fair and balanced" network. He serves as the lone counterweight to the other four hosts of "The Five," defending President Barack Obama's policies when his colleagues put him on the spot.

But in the next breath, Beckel is just as likely to slight the Muslim or Chinese communities as he is to drop a progressive talking point. He also falls back on his "old-timer" status -- he frequently uses the term "broad" -- to soften the landing of his demeaning comments about women.

Here is a sampling of the craziest, most racist things Beckel has said over the past couple years. It’s in reverse chronological order, for those of you keeping track.

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