Friday News: The new Supermajority

JUSTICE ANITA EARLS SEATED ON NC SUPREME COURT, GIVING DEMS 5-2 EDGE: Earls has worked diligently for years to win equal opportunity for her clients. She served as deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice under former President Bill Clinton, and she later founded the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a civil rights group that successfully challenged North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law and gerrymandered voting districts. Through her work, she said Thursday, she learned bridging those divides isn't something she could accomplish alone. "It will take all of our country's public and private institutions to effect that healing, to bring us together for the common good, to lift us up instead of tearing us apart," she said. "It requires a system of justice that adheres to the rule of law ... a system in which no one is above the law and justice does not depend on gender, wealth, status, political party, race, creed or color."

NEW ELECTION IN NC09 COULD KEEP SEAT OPEN MOST OF THE YEAR: If the state board had been able to hold a hearing next week as planned, they could have ordered a new race and started the clock on the election machinery required to hold a new primary, a possible runoff and a general election for the 9th District. That would include a candidate filing period, time for voting absentee and statutory time limits specifying how many days there must be between each phase of the election. Instead, it’s now unclear when a new board might hold a hearing, though staff members have said they are continuing their investigation and all subpoenas issued remain valid. A new state elections board isn’t the only authority that could order a new election. So could the courts. So could Congress, according to state election officials. And a provision of state law even gives the governor authority to call a new congressional election in some cases.

SOME NC HOME BUYERS STYMIED BY GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: The ongoing partial government shutdown is having a far reaching impact across a number of different industries and real estate is one of them. To prevent the home buying process from becoming a nightmare, Coldwell Banker HPW realtor Jennifer Coleman said now is the time to start thinking about how the partial government shutdown might impact that decision. “Especially when it comes to USDA loans, specifically they would be the ones that would potentially not be able to be underwritten at all. Even longer term we could see some slowdown with FHA loans,” Coleman said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not issue new direct or guaranteed loans during the shutdown, and Federal Housing Administration loans could be delayed because of staff shortages. When it comes to the IRS, lenders may encounter problems verifying a borrower’s income if tax transcripts can’t be verified.

NEW DEM CONGRESS PASSES LEGISLATION TO FUND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS: House Democrats have approved a plan to re-open the government without funding President Donald Trump’s promised border wall. The largely party-line votes by the new Democratic majority came after Trump made a surprise appearance at the White House briefing room to pledge a continued fight for his signature campaign promise. The Democratic package to end the shutdown includes a bill to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Feb. 8 as bipartisan talks continue. It was approved, 239-192. Democrats also approved, 241-190, a separate measure funding the Agriculture, Interior and other departments through Sept. 30. The homeland security bill is virtually identical to a plan the Senate adopted by voice vote last month. The GOP-controlled House rejected the plan the next day, forcing a partial shutdown.

MCCONNELL FEELING PRESSURE TO END GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: By absenting himself, Mr. McConnell had hoped to push the blame for a prolonged shutdown onto Democrats while protecting Republicans running for re-election in 2020 — including himself. Much as Democrats did in 2018, Republicans will face a difficult map in 2020, with a handful of incumbent senators facing re-election in swing states or states won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. But on Thursday, as a new era of divided government opened in Washington, perhaps the most vulnerable Republican, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, broke ranks to become the first member of his party to call for an end to the shutdown — with or without Mr. Trump’s wall funding. Democrats are trying to drive a wedge between Republican leaders and their vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in 2020, especially Mr. Gardner, Ms. Collins, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant after Senator John McCain’s death.