Jan 9, 2018

Congress is still barrelling toward an immigration showdown

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A wild afternoon of immigration news left Congress virtually in the same place as it was before a bipartisan group of lawmakers met with President Trump: headed for a government shutdown next week unless someone caves.

Between the lines: Republicans and Democrats are still miles apart on a deal to protect immigrants brought to the US as children. They're also still negotiating a spending caps deal. Without either of these questions resolved, there's a real possibility members of each party vote against a short-term spending bill next week, shutting down the government.

The problem: Congress is really trying to sort out three different things right now: An immigration deal addressing those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a deal to raise spending caps and a deal to keep the lights on past next Friday.

  • Democrats want a deal to protect the "Dreamers" by then. Today narrowed the scope of the conversation down to four issues — border security, chain migration, the visa lottery and Dreamers — but it's hard to overstate how far apart the two parties still are on these.
  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated on Tuesday that the spending bill and a DACA bill will be considered separately, which Democrats had not agreed to.
  • Republicans, especially defense hawks, want a caps deal that raises defense spending. Democrats say they'll agree to this only if the domestic spending cap is raised too.
  • It's unclear whether Democrats will vote for a short-term spending bill next week without a DACA deal, or whether defense hawks will vote for it without a caps deal. Losing these votes could result in a shutdown.

The bottom line: Both parties are under a lot of pressure from their base not to cave ahead of the Jan. 19 spending bill deadline. But something's gotta give, or next week will end with a shutdown — with the GOP controlling all three branches of government.

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Driving the news: While speaking at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last Wednesday, Mark Menezes told members of the panel that the Trump administration is still interested in storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and that “what we're trying to do is to put together a process that will give us a path to permanent storage at Yucca."

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Driving the news: In his first public statement on the new designation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells Axios that the five outlets are "clearly controlled by the [Chinese Communist Party], and we are simply recognizing that fact by taking this action.”

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The big picture: The president's clemency spree largely benefitted white-collar criminals convicted of crimes like corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering, undercutting his message of "draining the swamp."

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