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Earth science teacher Megan Greenwood helps Ariana Lemus, center, and Landon Willes, right, make a diagram of the earth's core Oct. 9 at Twin Falls High School in Twin Falls.

How Congress got Trump to climb down, end shutdown — for now

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was feeling the heat.

Week after week, Trump had demanded that the government stay partially shuttered until Democrats agreed to pay for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Surrounded by a shrinking cast of advisers, he watched as federal workers went unpaid and basic services were frozen. His poll numbers were slipping. His arguments were landing with a thud with the public.

A pair of Senate votes on Thursday, and a round of telephone calls from frustrated Republicans, made clear he had no way out. A president who never admits defeat then began a rapid retreat.

The story of how Trump reversed himself, ending the country’s longest shutdown with little to show for it, is largely one of acceptance. Over 35 days and a critical final 24 hours, Trump finally came to see what many allies had known for weeks about his strategy: His only option was to climb down, at least for now.

So Trump did what he does best, ending one campaign and beginning the next. As soon as this shutdown was about to close, he promised everyone a new fight would begin — and another shutdown could soon follow.

Trump’s GOP allies in the Senate had been more than eager to help him get to “yes” on ending Round One. The critical first step was showing that Democrats were not going to buckle.

The White House had maintained there were untold numbers of Democrats ready to bolt from their leaders and back his demand for $5.7 billion in wall money. Yet for weeks, few such Democrats had emerged. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who had stayed on the sidelines as Trump battled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, agreed to put the theory to a vote.

There would be votes on two plans to reopen the government. The first was backed by Trump; the second by Democrats. The Democrats’ bill won more votes than the GOP bill, even though Republicans control the Senate.

It was a harsh, indisputable reality for the president. He recognized something had to give, according to eight people familiar with his thinking who, like others interviewed for this account, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

“He knew that it was a lost cause,” Schumer said Friday.

Even before the second vote was gaveled shut, McConnell told others he was preparing to reach out to Schumer to talk about what was next. The two met in the majority leader’s stately office off the Senate floor. McConnell discussed the offer the White House had proposed: a short-term bill to reopen government that included a “down payment” Trump wanted for the wall.

Pelosi, however, had already waved off the idea, and Schumer said Democrats would not support it, according to a senior Democratic aide. Pelosi had kept her boisterous caucus of Democrats surprisingly united throughout the standoff. She persuaded many that the fight was bigger than any wall.

“That is part of the design, to undo the role of government,” she told Democrats on Wednesday, imploring them to hold tough, according to an aide in the room. “There is a plan. It is working for us.”

Schumer answered McConnell with the proposal that eventually would be accepted: a three-week measure to reopen the government and then a plan for House and Senate negotiators to discuss border security.

McConnell took the Schumer proposal to the White House. Overnight and into Friday, several Republican senators ramped up the pressure. They called Trump and urged him to end the shutdown and take up border security through the regular legislative process, according to a person familiar with the private conversations.

The White House was ready to consider proposals from Capitol Hill.

Vice President Mike Pence had endured a contentious lunch with Republican senators on Thursday, absorbing criticism for having no plan for a way forward.

Stories about federal workers in dire straits due to missed paychecks were weighing heavily, too, on Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

“There’s a parade of horribles of how people are having to cope with not getting paid and it’s not good,” Cornyn said.

White House aides acknowledged they were running out of options that might minimize the impact of the lengthy shutdown as complaints intensified from government employees and people who depend on federal aid and services. By Friday morning, with airports reporting increased shutdown-related flight delays and more workers recounting their personal financial crises, Schumer and McConnell were on the phone talking details.

At that point, it wasn’t hard to persuade Trump.

Pence, senior adviser Jared Kushner and others on his team were seen as supporting an exit strategy. But those close to the White House insisted that Trump viewed this not as a capitulation but rather as one more chance at the deal he wants. Aides said the president believes there are Democrats willing to work on border security and that the bipartisan negotiators on Capitol Hill will draw in a more diverse range of views.

“Will not be easy to make a deal, both parties very dug in,” Trump tweeted Saturday, publicly confident of an outcome that has eluded him: “We will build the Wall!

CSI Boxing Smoker creates blood, sweat and bonds

TWIN FALLS — Boxing rings don’t follow natural law.

Minutes feel like lifetimes. A 16-ounce glove has all of the weight of the world. Air disappears from lungs as quickly as it entered.

In the ring, all logic flies out the window. The only thing 17-year-old Bryson Navarro is thinking — despite all of the punches he has taken and all of the punches he has thrown — is how tired his legs are.

He was bobbing around before the Jan. 26 fight, he was moving sharply, everyone was talking about how fast he was while warming-up. But he lost that, he isn’t as sharp.

“You have this idea of what it’s going to be like in there. But it’s totally different,” Navarro said


Bryson Navarro takes a breather in between rounds in his fight against Bryce Trujillo, both of Twin Falls, on Saturday during the 42nd annual CSI Cowboy and Cowgirl Boxing Smoker at the Eldon Evans Expo Center in Twin Falls. Trujillo defeated Navarro by judges decision.

Navarro lost the match to his rival and coworker who suggested he join the Boxing Smoker, Bryce Trujillo. Next year, Navarro hopes to be able to push through the pain.

“We’ve never fought each other but we’ve talked about sparring,” Trujillo said. “When in there, you just try and keep your composure and hope for the best.”

After the fight, Trujillo walked over to him and congratulated him. They bump fists and seem closer because of the experience. A boxing ring doesn’t follow natural law. It’s the only place where you thank the person who just spent three minutes punching you in the face.

Before Navarro and the other fighters took to the ring, spectators poured into the Eldon Evans Expo Center Saturday night.


Kaity Sample knocks Micki Hill to the mat Saturday during the 42nd annual CSI Cowboy and Cowgirl Boxing Smoker at the Eldon Evans Expo Center in Twin Falls. Hill recovered from the knock-down and went on to defeat Sample by unanimous decision.

The 42nd annual Boxing Smoker is the College of Southern Idaho Rodeo Team’s largest fundraiser of the year, bringing in more than $40,000 and more than 3,000 spectators to watch club members and amateurs from the community try their hand at the grueling sport.

The rodeo club has been training since October, assistant rodeo coach Kelly Wardell said. He also served as the coach for the red ring, giving advice to anyone in his corner.

“For the most part, they aren’t boxers,” Wardell said.

Hours before the first fight, boxers were warming-up. Jumping rope, hitting the bag and shadowboxing, there was a tension in the air even for these amateurs.

Before their fights, all of the fighters were pumping each other up. Giving words of encouragement to the people who, in mere moments, will try to beat them to a pulp.

Every fighter gets their blood pressure taken and their hands wrapped. As soon as they get the go-ahead to fight they can’t stop moving because of the anticipation. Every fighter has different reasons for joining, whether they are part of the rodeo team or they have something to prove to themselves.

Kaity Sample, one of four female boxers this year, isn’t a fighter. She’s doing this in honor of her cousin Cole Hatcher, a member of the CSI Rodeo Team who passed away in 2017. She got in the ring to remember her cousin.


Kaity Sample knocks Micki Hill to the mat Saturday during the 42nd annual CSI Cowboy and Cowgirl Boxing Smoker at the Eldon Evans Expo Center in Twin Falls. Hill recovered from the knock-down and went on to defeat Sample by unanimous decision.

After her fight, she sat in a chair staring at the ground. After all of the anticipation and training, she had a moment to think about why she did this.

“It was worth it,” Sample said. “I did this for my cousin. Next time I’m going to be more confident when I fight.”

PHOTOS: Boxing Smoker

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.


Tazyn Twiss, of Minico, throws Kuna's Cedar Miller in their 170-pound championship match Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, during the Red Halverson Invitational at Minico High School in Rupert. Miller defeated Twiss 6-2.

Legislature week in review
Legislature week in review: CAFE locations announced, cellphone bans challenged, state employee pay

BOISE — The third week of the legislative session produced a flood of new bills, while some of the earliest legislation of the year began making its way through the House and Senate.

  • The University of Idaho outlined its plans for the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) initiative, which will have three facilities spread across the Magic Valley: a dairy research center in Rupert, an outreach and education center in Jerome, and a food processing facility for training and research on the College of Southern Idaho campus in Twin Falls.
  • A proposed bill to prevent cities from enacting their own bans on handheld cell phone use while driving was introduced in the House Local Government Committee, but returned to its sponsor, Rep. Chad Christensen of Ammon, to fix some of its wording. Two south-central Idaho cities, Ketchum and Hailey, currently have such bans in place.
  • Two North Idaho lawmakers, Rep. Heather Scott and Rep. John Green, released a draft copy of a bill that would allow for the prosecution of abortion as murder and give Idaho the right to nullify any federal laws or court rulings legalizing abortion.
  • The Joint Millennium Fund Committee voted to recommend that the state use $893,400 from the Millennium Fund to continue funding recovery centers across Idaho, dipping into the $10.6 million from the Fund that Gov. Brad Little recommended the state put toward Medicaid expansion.
  • The Joint Change in Employee Compensation Committee voted to recommend 2 percent merit-based raises for state employees, along with a fixed salary increase of $550 for all employees. The recommendation differed from Little’s recommended 3 percent merit raises.