Nancy Pelosi, Wilbur Ross, Venezuela: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning,

The government shutdown continues. We’re also watching the leadership crisis in Venezuela, and it’s Friday, so there’s a new news quiz.

About 800,000 federal workers will miss a second consecutive paycheck today, after two measures aimed at ending the partial government shutdown failed as expected in the Senate.

In back-to-back votes, lawmakers first blocked President Trump’s proposal to add $5.7 billion for his border wall to legislation to resume government funding, then defeated a Democratic measure that omitted the barrier. Here’s how every senator voted.

What’s next: House Democrats are preparing to outline more than $5 billion in border security measures, a far larger sum than they initially supported. Mr. Trump mentioned “other alternatives” to break the impasse, presumably an emergency declaration that could allow him to shift funds from the military or the Army Corps of Engineers.

News analysis: The president prides himself on being a master negotiator, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi “is a different kind of opponent, and one who so far has flummoxed him,” one of our congressional correspondents writes.

As the shutdown continues, scientists, engineers and other highly skilled employees are starting to question the appeal of government work.

“We didn’t get Ph.D.s just to sit around,” said a chemist at NASA, which has rarely struggled to attract top talent. Most of the space agency’s employees have been furloughed during the nearly six-week shutdown.

Yesterday: Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, expressed confusion about why furloughed workers were visiting food banks and said they should take out loans. He’s one of several administration officials who have been criticized as sounding out-of-touch about the shutdown’s toll.

For you: Aviation unions have raised concerns about the shutdown’s effect on air safety, but the president of the air traffic controllers’ union said, “The flying public is safe.” Here’s what else to know about air travel.

President Trump has been determined not to disappoint supporters by giving ground on his campaign promise of a border wall.

But the Southwest’s growing diversity and the president’s demeaning rhetoric about migrants are pulling parts of the region from the once-firm grip of Republicans. From California to Texas, all nine House members whose districts touch the border say a wall is the wrong solution for border security.

Closer look: Two Times journalists are traveling the length of the 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico. Read their latest dispatch.

Yesterday: The Trump administration said it would start preventing some asylum seekers from entering the U.S. from Mexico. The policy was first announced last month.

The government of President Nicolás Maduro struck back on Thursday, winning the support of the country’s military as well as that of Russia, which warned the U.S. not to intervene. The opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, had declared himself the country’s legitimate president a day earlier.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on all of the region’s governments to “align themselves with democracy” and recognize Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela’s president, setting up a test of wills with Moscow.

News analysis: President Trump, who has aligned himself with autocratic leaders around the world, has drawn a red line with Mr. Maduro. Mr. Trump’s stance represents a departure from his “America First” policy of staying out of other nations’ internal affairs, our correspondents write.

Snapshot: Above, Marzieh Hashemi, an American journalist for Iran’s Press TV, was interviewed on Thursday after a 10-day detention by U.S. law enforcement officials. She had been ordered to appear before a grand jury in Washington as a material witness but was not charged with a crime.

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic beat Lucas Pouille in straight sets to advance to Sunday’s final against Rafael Nadal.

News quiz: Did you follow the headlines this week? Test yourself.

Late-night comedy: Jimmy Fallon learned that a legal marijuana vendor was offering free medical cannabis to government workers during the shutdown: “Guess what travelers: That T.S.A. line can get slower.”

What we’re reading: This National Geographic interview. “How long ago did Native Americans arrive here? (Longer ago than we thought.) How did they get here? (Complicated.) What was the nature of the fantastical world they found? Craig Childs, a writer, adventurer and author of ‘Atlas of a Lost World’ has a lot of answers,” writes Michael Powell, a sports columnist.

Cook: Molasses gives ginger cookies a decidedly adult, almost caramel flavor.

Read: These nine new books are recommended by our editors, including an account of a tribe of hunter-gatherers living on a remote Indonesian island.

Watch: M. Night Shyamalan’s box office hit “Glass,” and then join our discussion about everything in the film that didn’t make sense.

Go: The Metropolitan Opera’s revival of “Pelléas” shows its new music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is fully in charge. It’s a Critic’s Pick.

Smarter Living: Reduce your energy use by making sure your home is properly insulated. Experts recommend hiring an energy auditor, who can tell you whether your walls need blown-in insulation, which can save money in the long term. Check with your utility company: Some will send energy auditors for free or offer rebates.

We’ve also got a guide to tidying up your tech and digital worlds, Marie Kondo-style.

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, was born on this day in 1759. He wrote hundreds of poems and songs, including the New Year’s Eve favorite “Auld Lang Syne,” before his life was cut short by illness.

His use of vernacular is a barrier for many English speakers, but it is difficult to overstate the esteem he commands in Scotland and in the hearts of expatriates like this writer, who grew up in Burns’s home of Ayrshire.

His verses gave dignity and voice to the disenfranchised, and he is beloved for his romanticism and sense of humor. Scots around the world celebrate his birth with “Burns suppers.”

The most elaborate celebrations feature pipers marching in with a haggis (a traditional concoction of minced offal, oatmeal and spices) to a standing ovation, and a recitation by the host of Burns’s praise-filled “Address to a Haggis.”

So tonight, whatever is on your plate, join me in a toast to one of Scotland’s best-loved sons.

That’s it for this briefing. Have a good weekend.

— Chris

Thank you
To Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for their cultural and Smarter Living tips. Jeanie Kay, a designer on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the crisis in Venezuela.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Novelist Austen (4 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Last year, The Times published articles in 10 languages in addition to English: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.

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