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Trump Signals Defeat on Wall Demand as Christmas Crisis Deadline Nears
Democrats ‘fight to the death’ to block barrier project, president gripes

President Donald Trump argues about border security with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer , right, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence listens in the Oval Office last week. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump signaled defeat Wednesday on his threat to shut down nearly half the federal government over his border wall funding demand, possibly pulling the country back from the brink of a Christmas crisis.

His morning tweet and spokeswoman’s comments Tuesday marked another abrupt reversal for the 45th president, who last week roared at the top two congressional Democrats that he would “take the mantle” and shut down parts of the government unless they gave him $5 billion for his border barrier.

Here Are the House Members Who Have Skipped Votes This Lame-Duck Session
Most of the absentees are members who lost re-election, ran for another office or are retiring

The lame-duck session of Congress has seen its fair share of absenteeism in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

More than 40 percent of House members have missed at least one vote this lame-duck session, leading to attendance problems that have prohibited the outgoing Republican majority from advancing legislation that Democrats don’t want to help them pass — and a smaller subset have missed at least half of all lame-duck votes.

There have been only 20 House roll call votes since the lame-duck session started on Nov. 13, but 17 members have missed at least half of them. Of those 17 repeat offenders, 11 are Republicans and six are Democrats.

It’s the President’s Latest TV Drama. Call It ‘Trump Show: Shutdown’
POTUS cast himself as maestro, but Republicans lack Christmas crisis-averting plan

Can President Donald Trump extract himself and Congress from the the shutdown-related dramatics he has fanned? (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Republicans — despite controlling the House, Senate and White House — have no firm plan to avert a partial government shutdown scheduled to start on Friday night. But for President Donald Trump, that’s just when he feels most in control.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said Tuesday afternoon during an unrelated event. “It’s too early to say.” (Translation: Stay tuned to “The Trump Show.”)

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Pillow talk, Senator Hatch’s Office has spoken, and staffer shuffle

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see too.

White House: Trump Willing to Use Other Funds for Wall to Get Deal
White House would go along with deal as long as it can use funding from other sources to get closer to $5 billion

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House might go along with the Senate plan “as long as we can couple that with other funding resources that would help us get to the $5 billion.” (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to endorse a potential spending deal that would include all of the remaining appropriations, including a Senate Homeland Homeland Security bill with $1.6 billion in wall-related funding.

But as usual, there was a catch — President Donald Trump might insist on flexibility to use other funds already identified to get closer to his desired $5 billion.

Illness Will Make Rep. Walter Jones Miss the Rest of This Session
Jones to return in January to serve out his final term in office

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones has been granted a leave of absence for the duration of the congressional term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones’ unspecified illness will cause him to miss votes for the remainder of the 115th Congress.

Jones’ House colleagues granted the leave of absence on Dec. 11 by unanimous consent, according to the Congressional Record.

House GOP Makes Another Push for Year-End Tax Cuts
Price tag, end-of-year shutdown maneuvers might complicate movement

House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wants to give it another try on a year-end tax cut package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans will try again this week to pass a year-end package of tax cuts after revamping the measure a second time to win broader political support.

The latest version of the bill restores an extension of two expired tax breaks: one for a biodiesel tax credit and another for a railroad track maintenance credit. The biodiesel credit, which would be extended and then phased out by 2024, was a particular priority for Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the likely chairman next year of the Senate Finance Committee.

An Office Swap Lands Ayanna Pressley in Shirley Chisholm’s Former Spot
Thanks to fellow Rep.-elect Katie Hill, Democrat will get her dream office

Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley swapped offices to get a space once occupied by Shirley Chisholm. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ayanna Pressley had her heart set on a Capitol Hill office previously occupied by her “shero,” Shirley Chisholm. A fellow incoming freshman Democrat helped her dream come true.

At the high-stakes office lottery for newly elected members of Congress last month, Pressley called on an iconic former lawmaker’s good vibes, announcing as she approached the number-filled box that if Chisholm were still alive, she would be celebrating her 94th birthday. Chisholm was the first black woman ever elected to serve in the House.

Ethics Office Report Released on Lame Duck Rod Blum
House Ethics jurisdiction will expire when Iowa Republican leaves Congress

Outgoing Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, is the subject of an ethics inquery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on allegations against Iowa Republican Rod Blum Monday, while the House Ethics Committee announced that it is continuing its own inquiry, but likely not for long.

The House Ethics panel began the inquiry into Blum in July when it received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics and extended the inquiry in early September. In February, the Associated Press reported that Blum violated House ethics rules by failing to disclose his ownership role in a new company and that his top federal staffer was featured in a false testimonial promoting the company’s services.

Rep. Steve Scalise and Roommates Pitch Cooking Show on Twitter
Louisiana Republican will lose his sous chef come January

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks during the press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A set of four Republican roommates channeled Julia Child over the weekend with a butter-slathered cooking video.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana shares a house in Washington with lawmaking colleagues Kevin Brady, Erik Paulsen and John Shimkus. Together they cooked up a cajun feast of blackened redfish, jambalaya and gumbo, with mashed sweet potato casserole on the side.