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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Buckle up: President Trump's prime-time Oval Office speech tonight comes on Day 18 of a shutdown he caused on the issue he wants to define his presidency — immigration.

Following Trump's speech at 9 pm ET, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will appear on air from the House Speaker's Balcony Hallway.

  • Unlike last year, when Democrats could only express their concern about Trump, Pelosi now speaks as a figure Trump needs to deal with on equal terms.
  • Trump isn’t expected to declare a national emergency, WSJ reports.

Between the lines: Trump appears to be playing defense.

  • It's unclear why incoming Democrats would be swayed by this issue so shortly after the president made it a central election topic and his party lost the House.
  • House Democrats also plan to start introducing bills to re-open parts of the government, hoping the threat of defecting Republicans persuades leadership to break with Trump.
  • Senate Democrats are working to grind legislation to a standstill to pressure Mitch McConnell, the NY Times reports.
  • Trump will attend a Senate Republican lunch meeting on Wednesday, according to multiple people familiar with the decision.

Go deeper: Reality check — The truth about Trump's border crisis

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.