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Congress passed a stopgap measure Thursday to avoid a government shutdown, which would have taken effect early Saturday morning. The bill extends government funding until Jan. 19, and it also includes a short-term funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the funding for which lapsed in September. Congressional leaders will have to face unresolved issues involving protections for “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children; a more permanent solution for CHIP; funding for the military; and a controversial surveillance program in the new year.


In other news, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) will resign on Jan. 2, and Senator-elect Tina Smith (D-MN) will be sworn in as his replacement the next day. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) appointed Smith to the post earlier this month, but she must run in the special election in 2018 to keep it for the remaining two years of Franken’s term. Smith has said that she will run for the seat but already faces a challenge: Minnesota state senator Karin Housley (R) has already announced her candidacy, and some have speculated that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) could also enter the race. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also faces reelection in 2018, but her seat is widely considered safe.

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