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We’re focused today on tentative budgetary sighs of relief in Washington and a San Francisco meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China.
First up, the Senate. A House vote Tuesday to keep the government funded for a few more weeks suggests that the next big partisan budget battle over spending cuts and policy overhauls may be deferred until January.
The Senate will act before a Friday deadline after the House voted 336 to 95 Tuesday to approve a temporary approach to avert a government shutdown (The Hill).
One piece funds big chunks of the government until Jan. 19, and another extends funding for the balance of the bureaucracy, including Defense, through Feb. 2. The two-track stopgap approach, supported by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and passed with notable help from Democrats, angered many House conservatives. Averting a shutdown is this week’s overriding bipartisan aim, which diluted the leverage of firebrands who said they would not flinch if there was a lapse in funding. In the end, 209 Democrats and 127 Republicans voted aye. Ninety-three Republicans opposed the continuing resolution (CR), as did two Democrats.
The House-passed plan is expected to clear the Senate, and President Biden would sign it. After consulting with the president’s team, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed relief that deep spending cuts and Republican policy riders were not part of Johnson’s plan. He said he agreed, along with the White House, “that if this can avoid a shutdown, it will be a good thing.”
Johnson, who has been Speaker for less than a month and steered a placeholder path this week similar to that taken by his predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He is expected to avoid McCarthy’s banishment, but Johnson did not sidestep criticism from his conservative colleagues.
PULL QUOTE IN BOLD “We’re trying to give the Speaker a little grace, but today’s a mistake, right out of the gate,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a leader of the House Freedom Caucus (The New York Times).
The temporary bill would give lawmakers in both chambers more time to pass and negotiate full-year spending bills — although the House and Senate are nowhere near an agreement on those — and avoid a massive year-end spending bill called an omnibus. It could still trigger two more standoffs that lead to partial government shutdowns early next year (The Washington Post).
“We are not going to have a massive omnibus spending bill right before Christmas,” the Speaker explained, referring to GOP fears that the House, with its narrow majority, could get jammed by Senate Democrats with a mammoth budget ultimatum next month. “That is a gift to the American people. Because that is no way to legislate. It is not good stewardship.”
ON THE WEST COAST, Biden and Xi will meet today for the first time since last year — this time on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in San Francisco.
Analysts expect no major bilateral announcements after the meeting, but the administration has stressed for months that restoring communications between the two governments after a prolonged period of tension is paramount.
The Hill: High stakes Biden-Xi meeting and five things to watch.
The White House says Biden will urge Xi to resume direct military-to-military communications between the United States and China and will raise Taiwan (a priority issue for Beijing), plus Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Iran’s role in the current Middle East conflict. The administration believes Xi and China have sway in Moscow and Tehran.
3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:
▪ Biden and Xi today are expected to talk about fentanyl in a city gripped by the opioid crisis. The United States wants China’s cooperation to stop an illicit flow of “precursor” chemicals used to make the synthetic opioid.
▪ U.S. inflation news has been better than expected and there’s no sign of recession.
▪ The Senate would need 60 votes on the floor but moved a step closer Tuesday to breaking Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blockade on most military nominations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) held off on rolling the senator (for now).
LEADING THE DAY
© The Associated Press / Bryon Houlgrave | GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley wants to finish second behind frontrunner former President Trump in January’s Iowa caucuses.
Republican candidate Nikki Haley is closer to overtaking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in Iowa before January’s GOP caucuses begin. The former South Carolina governor is rolling out dozens of endorsements and, according to the latest Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa poll, is tied with DeSantis at 16 percent support. Both candidates trail former President Trump, who’s favored by 43 percent of likely Republican Iowa caucus goers (The Des Moines Register).
“Often, our best presidents have been governors,” said David Oman, a former political operative among the 72 Iowans endorsing Haley. “I like to support governors — proven winners who lead, who assemble a great team, who manage, and get things done.”
In New Hampshire, a new 7NEWS/Emerson College poll shows that while 49 of Republican voters still favor Trump, Haley has surged to second with 18 percent support. She is followed by former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie with 9 percent. DeSantis has dropped to 7 percent and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is polling at 5 percent (WHDH).
▪ Axios: Haley is benefiting from Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) exit from the GOP primary, according to a pollster for Trump.
▪ The Washington Post: Calls, texts, candidate chats: Trump’s rivals chase support after Scott exits the race. It remains unclear that any GOP alternative can consolidate support to outpace the former president for the nomination.
SOME BLACK AND HISPANIC VOTERS say they’re lukewarm about Biden and Democratic candidates following a year of higher consumer prices and soaring rents, The Hill’s Tobias Burns reports, even as the administration touts economic programs geared toward minority-owned businesses. A New York Times/Siena Poll released earlier this month found that 22 percent of Black voters in six key battleground states would choose Trump in next year’s election over Biden. While that number still favors Biden in absolute terms, it’s a huge increase for Republicans over the historical baseline.
OHIO AS A BLUEPRINT: The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports that after a successful referendum in Ohio, abortion rights activists are eyeing future ballot measures for red and purple states, including Florida, Missouri, Arizona and Nevada. The efforts have been in motion for months. Deirdre Schifeling, chief political and advocacy officer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said successful ballot measures turn up outreach and mobilization.
“If you just throw abortion on the ballot, is it going to spur turnout? Well, no,” Schifeling said. “What drives voters to the polls, and generates turnout and excitement and enthusiasm — which we have seen among young voters, among voters of color among women, the constituencies that you would expect to be energized by reproductive rights — that requires a well-resourced and well-run campaign.”
▪ The Speaker repeated Tuesday that he’s “all in” on Trump’s 2024 presidential bid. But as a state lawmaker in 2015, Johnson said Trump lacks the “character and moral center” to be president.
▪ Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom announced Tuesday she’s competing for the state’s at-large House seat, becoming the second Republican to formally enter the race to unseat Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska).
▪ Rep. Pat Fallon (R) is dropping his Texas Senate bid and will run again for Congress. Fallon, who made the decision 24 hours after filing to run for his old Texas Senate seat, did not say why he changed his mind.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 9 a.m.
The Senate convenes at 10 a.m.
The president is in San Francisco where he will hold a bilateral meeting with President Xi at 11 a.m. PT. Biden will hold a news conference at 4:15 p.m. PT. The president and first lady Jill Biden will host an evening reception at San Francisco’s Exploratorium at Pier 17 for leaders participating in APEC this week.
Vice President Harris will speak and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will participate during an evening reception in San Francisco for APEC participants.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in San Francisco where his schedule follows the president’s itinerary.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in San Francisco through Friday. She will join Biden during his meeting with Xi today.
The first lady at 10 a.m. will join a White House event by phone to focus on new steps aimed at helping patients who are navigating cancer diagnoses. She will speak at an Atherton, Calif., political event this afternoon before joining the president to host an APEC reception in San Francisco tonight.
Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. will report on the producer price index for October, a measure of inflation.
© The Associated Press / Godofredo A. Vásquez | The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is taking place in San Francisco this week.
A Michigan judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that tried to use the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist ban to remove Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot. The judge separately ruled that Michigan’s secretary of state doesn’t have the power under state law to determine Trump’s eligibility for office based on the amendment to the Constitution (CNN).
House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. They are reacting to Cohen’s admission, when he appeared as a key witness in Trump’s New York civil fraud case last month, that he made false claims under oath when he told the House Intelligence Committee that neither Trump nor Trump Organization’s Allen Weisselberg, then chief financial officer, asked him to inflate numbers on Trump’s personal financial statement.
“That Mr. Cohen was willing to openly and brazenly state at trial that he lied to Congress on this specific issue is startling,” Stefanik and Turner wrote in a letter to Garland, NBC News reports. “His willingness to make such a statement alone should necessitate an investigation.”
Videos of defendant testimony in the Georgia racketeering trial against Trump, as first reported by ABC News, place Trump at the top of a chain of command to subvert the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The new evidence makes Trump’s defense harder, further breaking down his legal team’s assertions that the former president was simply following his lawyers’ lead and believing them when they said the election was rigged, writes The Hill’s Ella Lee.
“I think the way that they’re going to attempt to package this to a jury is to show that Donald Trump was not the passive recipient of bad information,” said Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University. “He was, in fact, a bad-faith actor who was designing the entire scheme to overturn the election, and when every attempt to overturn the election failed, he would work with another person in his orbit to concoct another plan and move on to that plan.”
The Washington Post interview: Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis said Tuesday that the Georgia trial involving Trump might not conclude until early 2025.
© The Associated Press / Mark Schiefelbein | Tens of thousands of Israel supporters demonstrated Tuesday on the National Mall in Washington.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the National Mall in the nation’s capital Tuesday to express support for Israel and to condemn antisemitism that has spiked amid Israel’s war in Gaza against Hamas (The Hill).
“The calls for a cease-fire are outrageous,” Speaker Johnson told the crowd during speeches from House and Senate leaders in both parties. “Israel will cease their counteroffensive when Hamas ceases to be a threat to the Jewish state.”
During Washington’s demonstrations Tuesday, Biden was on the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussing the hostages held by Hamas.
Israeli forces, who accuse Hamas of using Gaza’s largest hospital as a militant bunker and headquarters, seized control of the crippled Al-Shifa Hospital Wednesday, conducting what Israel called “a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area” of the structure, which has been the site of a standoff with militant fighters (The Associated Press).
Israel’s reported military seizure of Gaza’s largest hospital is viewed as a significant turning point against Hamas (The New York Times). Israeli Defense Forces announced Tuesday the capture in Gaza City neighborhoods of Hamas operational sites including the group’s parliament, governance complex, military and intelligence offices and a police headquarters (The Times of Israel).
Militant fighters in Gaza have denied using hospitals and other civilian settings as shields against Israeli attacks, and Israel has felt pressured to provide evidence to back up its military targeting of hospitals, which under the rules of war have special protection. U.S. officials Tuesday corroborated some of Israel’s accounts of Hamas’s operations beneath or within hospital compounds.
Israel previously said it would allow civilians inside Al-Shifa Hospital to evacuate, but Palestinians said they’d been fired on and it was too dangerous to leave. Physicians said they could not move vulnerable patients, some of whom have been dying in the absence of fuel, electricity and supplies (The Associated Press).
To make their case, Israeli military officials this week brought several journalists into the Al-Rantisi Hospital inside Gaza, which had been hit with artillery. Israeli officials said Gaza’s sole children’s hospital had been used as a Hamas command center. Inside the hospital basement, which officials said has been evacuated, journalists were shown abandoned AK-47s, grenades and other materials. In another room of the basement was a chair where an official claimed a hostage had been kept (ABC News and The New York Times).
▪ The Hill: Israel screens Hamas attack footage to show brutality and to counter a global cease-fire push.
▪ NewsNation: “The optics are bad” because of airstrikes in Gaza, Israeli spokesman Eylon Levy said Monday during an interview. “We are not fighting for our image. We are fighting for our survival.”
▪ The New York Times: More than 500 U.S. officials sent an anonymous, unsigned letter Tuesday protesting Biden’s Israel policy and seeking a cease-fire.
■ How China uses summits to advance its real agenda, by Miles Yu, opinion contributor, The Hill.
■ Farewell to the U.S.-China golden age, by Farah Stockman, editorial board member, The New York Times.
© The Associated Press / Charlie Neibergall | Iowa horse pictured in 2008.
And finally … 🐴 Flying horses are typically the stuff of children’s books and fairy tales, but one regular horse had a bumpy ride aboard a Boeing 747 last week after it escaped its stall.
A plane was forced to return to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday after a horse broke loose and the crew couldn’t get it back in its stall. The Air Atlanta Icelandic flight 4592 took off at 2:30 p.m on its way to Liege, Belgium, and climbed to about 31,000 feet when a pilot called air traffic control to say that a horse had escaped from its stall and the aircraft needed to land.
“We are a cargo plane with a live animal, a horse, on board the airplane,” a pilot says in audio posted on YouTube by You can see ATC. “And the horse managed to escape his stall.”
Before landing back at JFK, the plane had to do a U-turn off the eastern coast of Canada and dump fuel over the Atlantic. A veterinarian met the crew on the ground to tend to the horse.
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