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The plan to tie the debt ceiling to Harvey funding

John Ashbery / AP

Republican leaders plan to use the emergency Hurricane Harvey aid to squeeze another must-pass item through Congress: the debt ceiling.

Sources with direct knowledge of the planning tell me the current strategy is for the House to pass a "clean" bill this week that funds the White House's request for $7.85 billion for the first phase of recovery from the hurricane.

What happens next— per multiple sources with direct knowledge — is that when the bill reaches the Senate, Republican leaders will attach a debt limit raise before sending it back to the House. (Attaching a debt ceiling raise is less controversial in the Senate than it is in the House, which has more conservative members. What I've described is Republican leadership's current thinking, as of Sunday afternoon... it could still change.)

Why this matters: Hurricane Harvey has opened a path to get one of the most controversial items off Republican leaders's backs. Conservative members won't vote to raise the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts, and Mark Meadows, chairman of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, has already said he thinks it's wrong to use hurricane funding to dodge this thorny issue.

  • By linking the debt ceiling to hurricane aid, leadership would put the Freedom Caucus in the excruciating position of having to vote against emergency aid for Texas's worst natural disaster.
  • A source with knowledge of the Freedom Caucus's plans tells me the group won't have a unified position on the Harvey/debt ceiling question until after they meet on Tuesday night.
Khorri Atkinson 2 hours ago
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China slaps reciprocal tariffs on U.S. imports

China's President Xi Jinping speaks next to President Trump. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri// AFP / Getty Images

China announced plans to impose reciprocal tariffs on $3 billion of imports from the U.S., hours after President Trump ordered levies on a range of Chinese goods.

The details: China's plan includes a 25% tariff on U.S. pork imports as well as 15% tariffs on American steel pipes, fruit and wine, according to Bloomberg.

Haley Britzky 2 hours ago
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Former Playmate alleges Trump tried to pay her after sex

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk into the Diplomat Room.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk into the Diplomat Room. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal detailed her relationship with President Trump — which he has denied — in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night, including the first time she met Melania and how he tried to pay her after the first time they had sex.

The details: The alleged affair took place while he was married to Melania and shortly after his youngest son was born. McDougal said they met while the Apprentice was filming at the Playboy mansion, and began seeing each other "quite frequently." She told Cooper that Trump told her he loved her "all the time," and that there "was a real relationship there."