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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Jan. 14. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro claimed in an interview with the Washington Post that he is comfortably in control of his country and open to direct negotiations with the U.S. to resolve their "confrontational relationship."

Why it matters: The Trump administration's bet that Maduro would fall in 2019 in the midst of an economic collapse, a massive refugee crisis and an international push for regime change appears to have failed.

What they're saying: “If there’s respect between governments, no matter how big the United States is, and if there’s a dialogue, an exchange of truthful information, then be sure we can create a new type of relationship,” Maduro told the Post.

  • Maduro suggested that U.S. companies could reap the benefit of Venezuelan oil if President Trump reset relations, but dismissed international opposition to his regime and made clear that he intends to remain in power.
  • “Do you want me to tell you the truth? I don’t care even a little bit about what Europe does, or about what the U.S. does," he said. "No matter how many thousand sanctions, they won’t stop us, or Venezuela.”
  • He also attacked hawks in the Trump administration for implementing hardline policies like the economic sanctions that have crippled the country, a line that other foreign adversaries like the Iranians have also echoed.
“I believe Mike Pompeo has failed in Venezuela and is responsible for Donald Trump’s failure in his policy toward our country. I think Pompeo lives in a fantasy. He’s not a man with his feet on earth. I think Trump has had terrible advisers on Venezuela. John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams have caused him to have a wrong vision.”
— Maduro

Former White House national security adviser John Bolton tweeted Sunday: "Maduro tells the Washington Post he wants negotiations with the United States? The only negotiations we should have with Maduro are what he wants for lunch on the plane that will take him to permanent exile in Cuba or Russia. Viva Venezuela libre."

The big picture: The U.S. and 60 other nations recognize opposition leader and the head Venezuela’s legislature Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate president. Security forces this month attempted to block Guaidó from entering the country's National Assembly so the body could swear in a candidate loyal to Maduro as its leader.

  • Direct talks with the U.S. are unlikely. The Trump administration has repeatedly called for Maduro's exit from the presidential palace, and the talks would most likely bolster his legitimacy, strengthening his position.

Go deeper: Venezuela's Maduro survives 2019

Go deeper

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The Democrats' debt dilemma

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats find themselves in a political and potentially catastrophic economic quagmire as Republicans stand firm on denying them any help in raising the federal debt ceiling.

Why it matters: The Democrats are technically right — the debt comes, in part, from past spending by President Trump and his predecessors, not only President Biden's new big-ticket programs. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is saddling them with the public relations challenge of making that distinction during next year's crucial midterms.

Pelosi's endgame

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears at a news conference on Tuesday. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began her infrastructure endgame Tuesday, pressuring centrists to ultimately support as much social spending as possible while pleading with progressives to pass the roads-and-bridges package preceding it.

Why it matters: Neither group can achieve what it wants without the other, their ultimatums be damned. The leaders of both acknowledged the speaker's unique gift for pulling off a deal after separate conversations with Democratic leaders.