I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, February 12, 2019. 3 days until government funding expires. 356 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 630 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawmakers reach "agreement in principle" to avert shutdown
With just days to go until government funding expires, House and Senate negotiators emerged from a series of meetings Monday night to say that they had reached an "agreement in principle" on border security that would avoid another government shutdown taking place this weekend.
The details of the agreement have yet to be finalized, but according to reports, the deal will appropriate $1.375 billion to construct 55 miles of new physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, significantly less than the $5.7 billion for 215 miles that President Donald Trump had requested.
In exchange, Democrats dropped their demands to cap the number of people Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can detain at 16,5000; the agreement will continue to fund 40,520 detention beds for ICE, the current amount that it is authorized, although the agency has about 9,000 additional immigrants in detention. The White House had requested an increase in ICE capacity to 52,000.
To avert a government shutdown, the legislation (which is yet to be introduced) must pass both chambers of Congress and receive the president's signature by midnight Friday. The negotiators confirmed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had approved the framework, although President Trump has yet to signal if he will accept the amount of funding for border fences included in the deal.
Trump's allies in the House Freedom Caucus — whose opposition to a similar agreement in December led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history — have already begun machinating against the deal. "This conference agreement is hardly a serious attempt to secure our border or stop the flow of illegal immigration," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the Freedom Caucus' leader, said in a tweet on Monday night.
Asked Monday whether Trump would back the proposal, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), one of the top GOP negotiators, responded: "We think so, we hope so."
Rep. Omar apologizes after Democratic leadership condemns tweet as anti-Semitic
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) apologized on Monday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other top Democratic in Congress said a tweet of hers used "anti-Semitic tropes."
Omar tweeted on Sunday night that lawmakers' support for Israel was "all about the Benjamins baby," referring to $100 bills. The House Democratic leadership team, including Pelosi, quickly released a statement condemning the remarks and calling on Omar to apologize for her "use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel's supporters," which they called "hurtful" and "deeply offensive."
“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception," the Democratic leaders said. A number of other congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and outside advocacy groups similarly spoke against Omar's comment.
Later on Monday, Omar issued an "unequivocal" apology on Twitter, adding: "Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes."
The flap was the second time in recent weeks Omar has had to apologize for use of an "anti-Semitic trope," after previously expressing regret for a 2012 tweet in which she said, "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." Both Reps. Omar and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the only Muslim women in Congress, have come under fire for comments critical of Israel since being sworn in last month; Republicans have called for them to be rebuked in a resolution on the House floor. House Republican leaders have also called for Omar to be removed from the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee.
In urging Democrats to take additional actions against Omar, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pointed to his own response to comments by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) defending white nationalism last month. King was stripped of his committee assignments and rebuked on the House floor.
"When a member on our side of the aisle said something, they were very clear about what they thought should happen," McCarthy said. "We took action on our own side. When they stay silent, they are just as guilty."
--- "As he weighs whether to jump into the race, [former Vice President Joe] Biden has been conspicuously absent from early voting states, making him an outlier among Democrats eyeing the White House... In a wide-open race, Biden’s take-it-slow approach has given other candidates a head-start in fundraising, scooping up top-tier staff and perfecting their pitch to voters. It’s also given them a chance to chip away at what would be a central argument of a Biden campaign: that he is the only candidate who can defeat President Donald Trump in 2020." (Associated Press)
--- "New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is making moves toward a possible run for president, soliciting City Hall staffers with national political experience and preparing to travel to the early primary state of New Hampshire this week." (Politico)
--- "'Progressive Prosecutor': Can Kamala Harris Square the Circle?" (New York Times)
--- Happening today: CNN hosts a live town hall at 10 p.m. in Houston with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is mulling an Independent presidential bid.
White House schedule
POTUS: At 11:30 a.m., President Trump hosts a Cabinet meeting. At 2:15 p.m., he meets with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), who told reporters Monday that he plans to discuss removing the cap on state and local tax deductions that was imposed by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Senate: The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. today and resumes consideration of S.47, the Natural Resources Management Act, a bipartisan federal lands package. The chamber will then recess from 12 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for weekly caucus meetings.
At 4:30 p.m., the Senate will vote on passage of S.47 and hold a procedural vote advancing the nomination of Attorney General nominee William Barr, who is expected to be confirmed this week.
House: The House meets at 9 a.m. today for a pro forma session. No business will be conducted in order to accommodate the services for the late Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, who passed away last week at the age of 92.
A service will be held for Dingell today at 11 a.m. in Dearborn, Michigan; speakers are set to include former Vice President Joe Biden and Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Fred Upton (R-MI). Later today, a motorcade carrying Dingell's casket will be driven past the U.S. Capitol for a public viewing. Another service will be held in Washington, D.C. on Monday, with speakers including former President Bill Clinton, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
Supreme Court schedule
The Supreme Court is currently between sittings.
*All times Eastern