Senate Democrats considering blocking all legislation that doesn’t reopen the government

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Senate Democrats will try to block action on a Syria sanctions bill when it comes up for a vote Tuesday, an effort to keep the focus on the government shutdown.

Democrats also will discuss at their weekly policy lunch Wednesday whether to broaden that blocking tactic to all legislation, according to a senior Democratic aide.

A separate senior Democratic aide said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “has notified the (Democratic) caucus that he will vote against proceeding to S.1 because Senate Republicans should instead bring to the floor the House-passed bills to reopen the government.”

Over the weekend, the two Democratic senators from Maryland — Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen — who represent thousands of furloughed federal government workers, first publicly raised the idea of blocking bills on the floor to raise the political stakes on President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is refusing to put any government funding bills on the floor unless Trump supports them.

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McConnell has said he won’t make his members vote on a bill to reopen the government without assurances that Trump would sign it, though at least two Republican senators have pushed to reopen the government while wall negotiations continue.

The measure in question Tuesday, combines four Middle East-related bills, including new sanctions on the Syrian regime, and is viewed by critics of Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops there as a vehicle to speak out against that move.

The government partially shut down late last year following a lapse in funding for 25% of the federal government largely over Trump’s demand for $5 billion for his signature campaign promise of a border wall. Democrats have refused to budge on Trump’s demand, despite talks throughout the weekend aimed at reopening the government.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn expressed his annoyance at Democrats having blocked so many of the Cabinet nominees in the last Congress and noted that the ones not confirmed last cycle have to be re-appointed.

More U.S. regions see job openings outnumbering jobless

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WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO – Job openings are outnumbering unemployed workers across increasingly wide swaths of the United States, forcing businesses to rethink how they find workers, which could keep pressure on the Federal

Reserve to raise interest rates despite a global economic slowdown.

The volume of openings first topped the number of jobless people in Midwestern states in early 2017. But in recent months that phenomenon has spread to other regions, particularly the South.

The Labor Department on Tuesday is to release the latest data on job openings, from November. The report follows data released last week showing a surge in job growth in December and could help central bankers assess sometimes conflicting anecdotal reports about how hard firms must work to fill jobs.

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Economists say the most convincing signs of labor shortages would be a surge in wage growth. While average hourly earnings rose 3.2 percent in December, that is tepid by historical standards.

It is possible that the imbalance between job openings and unemployed workers owes partly to the ease with which online job advertisements can be posted. Additionally, it may overstate labor market tightness because people not actively looking for work are not counted in the ranks of the unemployed.

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But the combination of increasing job openings and falling unemployment around the country is making a more convincing case of a tighter U.S. labor market.

“If this goes on for another couple of years, then yes of course we’ll be running into labor shortages,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist who tracks regional economies at Moody’s Analytics.
Shaw Industries, headquartered in Dalton, Georgia, is growing so quickly that finding good talent “can be challenging,” says Brian Cooksey, director of workforce development.

The flooring company, a unit of billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc conglomerate, is funding programs in local high schools and even middle schools to get students interested early in the high-tech manufacturing in which Shaw specializes.

In other places, it is a different story. Last year auto parts supplier Lear Corp held a job fair in Flint, Michigan, to recruit 400 workers for a new factory set to open in April. Some 3,000 people showed up.

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