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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump significantly raised his rhetoric on the government shutdown today, vowing to keep it closed for "years" if needed and even invoking the idea of declaring a national emergency to build the wall.

Background: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday: "How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall."

The big picture: We're 14 days into a political fight, over roughly .1% of the federal budget, that has left hundreds of thousands without paychecks and some government functions largely paralyzed.

  • That includes tens of thousands of law enforcement officials, working without pay with no end in sight.

Between the lines: You've likely seen the viral horror stories of D.C. couples that can't get marriage licenses due to the shutdown and the broad human mess created by visitors to unmanaged national parks.

But as this shutdown goes longer, it will get worse. Among the affected:

  • Federal immigration courts, which will have to pick and choose which cases to handle, pushing some years down the road. [NYT]
  • The Interior Department, which can't pay out treaty rights obligations to Native American tribes.
  • The IRS, which won't pay out refunds or answer questions on taxes, even as tax season begins. [CNN]
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is shut down while unicorn startups like Uber and Lyft prepare IPOs. [WashPost]
  • Housing and Urban Development: "Public housing officials say they don’t know how long rental assistance payments will keep coming ... a suspension could put millions of tenants at risk if the shutdown drags on into February." [NBC]

Go deeper: Hundreds of TSA agents reportedly call in sick after 14 days without pay

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Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
49 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.