Dec 21, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon. The Christmas holiday is upon us, but PM will be running as usual next week. See you Monday.

Situational awareness: The Dow had its worst week in 10 years. The stock market overall had its worst week since 2011. Go deeper.

1 big thing: The wall between them

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're hours from a partial shutdown over President Trump's demand for border wall funding, and Republicans have just a week to figure this out before Nancy Pelosi reclaims the speaker gavel.

Driving the news: Someone will have to cave, but Trump said today he is "totally prepared for a very long shutdown."

  • In the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing forward on a vote with border funding, but he doesn't seem to have the votes.
  • The House passed a bill with border cash last night. If the stalemate goes until January, Democrats are in the driver seat.
  • Trump sent VP Mike Pence, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and son-in-law Jared Kushner to meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The big picture: "The shutdown, scheduled for midnight, would disrupt government operations and leave hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed or forced to work without pay just days before Christmas," the AP reports.

Between the lines: Trump has resumed his longtime campaign to get McConnell to abandon the filibuster. Don't expect this to happen, Axios' Caitlin Owens emails.

  • Senate institutionalists believe that the filibuster makes the Senate work the way it’s supposed to — in a slow, bipartisan manner.
  • Republicans will be wary of blowing the filibuster now when Democrats are about to take the House and won’t pass any Republican priorities. It also could backfire if and when Democrats eventually retake the Senate.

What's next: The Senate vote is going at a crawl because members have to fly back from their home states. (Hawaii's Brian Schatz flew 11 hours to Hawaii, then back, to vote no.)

  • We'll have details as they develop in the Axios stream.
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Conservators move a marble bust through the U.S. Capitol.

2. What you missed
  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had cancerous growths removed from her lung today at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Go deeper.
  2. Trump has signed the First Step Act into law, bringing reform to federal prisons and sentencing laws influenced by the war on drugs. The key changes.
  3. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was supposed to arrive in Israel next week for talks on Syria and Iran but cancelled his trip following his resignation yesterday and Trump's decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria.
  4. Prosecutors won't file charges against Richard Liu, the billionaire CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant, who was accused of raping a University of Minnesota student in September. Details.
  5. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's liberals in upholding a block against Trump's asylum ban. Go deeper.
  6. Snap Inc.'s stock hit an all time low of $4.85 today. Go deeper.
3. 1 biblical thing

Legendary biblical translator Robert Alter has written a rival to the King James bible, the N.Y. Times reports. Among the changes rendered:

  • "Alter told me about his decision to reject one of the oldest traditions in English translation and remove the word 'soul' from the text. That word, which translates the Hebrew word nefesh, has been a favorite in English-language Bibles since the 1611 King James Version.
  • "But consider the Book of Jonah 2:6 in which Jonah, caught in the depths of a giant fish’s gut, sings about the terror of near-death by water. According to the King James Version, Jonah says that the Mediterranean waters “compassed me about, even to the soul” — or nefesh."
  • "The problem with this 'soul,' for Alter, is its Christian connotations of an incorporeal and immortal being, the dualism of the soul apart from the body. Nefesh, to the contrary, suggests the material, mortal parts, the things that make us alive on this earth. The body."

Relax on the couch and enjoy.

Mike Allen