A pro-democracy protester sticks a poster featuring President Trump on a pillar in the Hong Kong financial district today. Photo: Kin Cheung/AP

President Trump thrilled China hardliners in the U.S. yesterday by signing two bills backing human rights in Hong Kong, provoking a threat of "firm counter measures" from Beijing.

Why it matters: Trump signed the bills knowing they would complicate trade negotiations. That suggests that he thinks he has a winning hand, based partly on weak economic data from China and stronger signs in the U.S.

  • The bills had been approved nearly unanimously in the House and Senate, but it was unclear if Trump would sign them.
  • The expected signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) helps provide political cover.

Between the lines: Trump chose not to take the easy way and let the legislation go into law by default on Tuesday.

  • China had threatened retaliation for weeks, so this was seen as thumbing his nose at Xi.

The latest: China reacted furiously, summoning the U.S. ambassador to protest, and warning the move would undermine cooperation with Washington. (AP)

  • Protesters in Hong Kong staged a "Thanksgiving" rally, "with thousands of people, some draped in U.S. flags, gathering in the heart of the city." (Reuters)

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Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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McConnell: Senate has "more than sufficient time" to process Supreme Court nomination

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech Monday that the chamber has "more than sufficient time" to confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, and accused Democrats of preparing "an even more appalling sequel" to the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said "nothing is off the table next year" if Republicans push ahead with the confirmation vote before November, vowing alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to use "every procedural tool available to us to ensure that we buy ourselves the time necessary."

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Why it matters: This is Congress' chief legislative focus before the election. They must pass a continuing resolution (CR) before midnight on Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown — something both Hill leaders and the White House have claimed is off the table.