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December 16, 2015

Late Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told his caucus that congressional leaders have reached agreement on a $1.15 trillion package to fund the federal government in fiscal 2016. The House is expected to vote on the legislation, and a paired tax bill, on Thursday, and the Senate could clear the combined bills on Friday, avoiding a government shutdown and allowing lawmakers to go home for Christmas break. Democrats are still looking over the deal and haven't said if they will support it, but Ryan sounded confident that the package will pass.

"We didn't win everything we wanted," Ryan said on Fox News. "Democrats got some things they wanted. So that's the nature of compromises in divided government. But all told, we'll make sure that we keep government funded and that we advance some of our priorities." Details weren't released as of midnight Wednesday, but the bills are expected to extend billions of dollars worth of tax breaks, delay some taxes designed to pay for expanded ObamaCare coverage, and, in a win for Republicans and oil companies, end a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports.

Democratic leaders said they have been told the package includes virtually no policy riders sought by Republicans, including stripping federal funding for Planned Parenthood or barring refugees from Syria and Iraq. It does reportedly include some new restrictions on visitors from 38 friendly nations whose citizens have been able to come to the U.S. without visas, blocking any who have traveled to Syria, Sudan, Iraq, or Iran in the past five years.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is said to be opposed to the package because of the corporate-tilted tax breaks and the lifting of the oil export ban, imposed after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Companies can already ship refined fuel abroad, but lifting the ban would allow oil drillers to send crude outside of the U.S. to be refined, potentially raising the price of gas inside the U.S. Democrats did win one concession, a five-year extension of tax credits for wind and solar energy. "We've made it clear that if they want this oil export ban, there must be included in this policies to reduce our carbon emissions and encourage use of renewable energy," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday morning. Peter Weber

10:39 a.m.

The number of women in Congress is about to spike — but that's no thanks to Republicans.

Next year, the GOP will have just 13 women lawmakers in Congress, down from 23 last cycle. Republican congresswomen know that's a problem, but men leading the party are doing nothing about it, they tell Politico.

Last month's midterms were brutal for the GOP-held house, likely because suburban moms largely flipped to vote for Democrats, Politico says. Many Republican congresswomen, namely Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.), think the GOP can reel those suburbanites back in and regain a congressional majority. But they need to start catering to women first, they said.

In 2012, Black realized the National Republican Congressional Committee wasn't pushing hard to elect women. So she and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) started fundraising to push Stefanik, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), and several other woman past primaries to win congressional seats. Only Stefanik won re-election this year, leaving Black feel "so disappoint[ed] I could just scream," she tells Politico.

The losses prompted Wagner to run for NRCC chair "in the hopes of leading a recovery," Politico writes. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told her not to run, putting yet another man at the helm of the GOP's campaign efforts. Rep. Tom Emmer's (R-Minn.) comment that it was "a mistake" to push for female candidates didn't help matters. It's all led Stefanik to leave the NRCC, saying last week she'll start her own operation to get women elected — just like what Black and Wagner did six years ago, but a step further. Read more at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:24 a.m.

Americans are increasingly unhappy, a new CNN poll published Tuesday finds, with how President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are handling the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Approval for both has fallen since CNN asked the same questions in October:


(CNN)

Intriguingly, while each man's ratings vary along predictably partisan lines, Trump's performance in regards to the probe is a low point even for Republicans. GOP respondents ranked Trump well — often 80 percent support or higher — for his performance on other specific issues and for his presidency in general. But on the Russia probe, a bare majority of 51 percent approve of Trump, a record low.

See the full poll results here. The margin of error is +/- 3.8 percent. Bonnie Kristian

9:48 a.m.

The most notable quote of 2018 — the statement that is most emblematic of this chaotic, endless, maddening year — is Rudy Giuliani's "Truth isn't truth."

Such is the determination of Yale Law School librarian Fred Shapiro, who each December releases a 10-quote update to The Yale Book of Quotations. Shapiro's selection criteria are not concerned with whether the quotes are wise or admirable. (As NBC's Chuck Todd told Giuliani immediately after he uttered his winning line, its proper end is "to become a bad meme.") Rather, Shapiro's aim is to capture of the zeitgeist of the year — for better or worse.

Here are 2018's top three:

1. "Truth isn't truth." — Rudy Giuliani, interview on Meet the Press, Aug. 19.

2. "I liked beer. I still like beer." — Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on his Supreme Court nomination, Sept. 27.

3. "While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication." — Sanofi drug company, in a tweet responding to Roseanne Barr's blaming of their product Ambien in explaining a tweet that led ABC to cancel her show, May 30. [The Yale Book of Quotations via The Associated Press]

Read the rest of the list of 10 via The Associated Press. President Trump makes an appearance, as one would expect from "a very stable genius." Bonnie Kristian

9:45 a.m.

Allies of President Trump are making quite a bit of money from foreign governments and individuals looking to avoid further U.S. sanctions, The New York Times reported Monday. And Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani may soon be one of the beneficiaries.

Giuliani, the Times reports, attended a private event in July with the Democratic Republic of Congo's special envoy to the U.S. The African country's government reportedly paid $8 million to a firm, Mer Security and Communication Systems, with the intention of hiring American lobbyists to help them avoid additional sanctions. And now, Giuliani is reportedly exploring a deal to work in the DRC, potentially through that firm. Giuliani said that it's possible he pursues business in the country but that it would "only be security consulting."

This firm has already paid over $3 million to individuals connected to Trump, such as a former liaison for his campaign and the wife of a former campaign adviser.

Additionally, the Times reports that Trump allied-attorney Alan Dershowitz is currently advising an Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler, who was sanctioned last year. Dershowitz has spoken with Trump at the White House about the Middle East but insists he never brought Gertler up.

Bryan Lanza, a former Trump campaign aide, also led expensive lobbying efforts for a Chinese tech company and a Russian conglomerate facing sanctions. Another Chinese tech company paid Lanza's company $70,000 a month for lobbying work. And a Trump fundraiser, Brian Ballard, was paid $125,000 a month in 2017 to lobby for a state-owned bank in Turkey looking to avoid sanctions.

The result of all of this, the Times writes, is that "sanctions targets who had not previously tried to win reprieve are sensing an opening." Read more at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

9:18 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May traveled to the Netherlands on Tuesday in a bid to salvage her deal on Britain's exit from the European Union, reports The Associated Press.

May on Monday postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal with the EU, saying it faced rejection. May is seeking concessions from European leaders, including on the question of how to keep goods flowing across the border of Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU-member Ireland. British lawmakers want flexibility on that issue, a key sticking point.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation," but there is "room enough for clarification and further interpretations. The apparent impasse left no clear path forward for May's government ahead of the U.K.'s scheduled March exit from the European trading bloc.

The prime minister met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Netherlands, traveled to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and huddled with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels. Read more at The Associated Press. The Week Staff

8:25 a.m.

Time has named a group of journalists who were targeted for their reporting as its 2018 "Person of the Year," recognizing what the magazine called "the guardians and the war on truth."

The first journalist recognized is Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist critical of Saudi Arabia murdered at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October. This is a rare instance of Time selecting a person who is no longer alive. The list also includes the journalists at The Capital Gazette in Maryland, who were the victims of a shooting in May that left five dead. Next is Maria Ressa, who has been indicted following her critical coverage of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Finally, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested while reporting on the killing of Muslims in Myanmar, are also recognized.

On Today, Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal explained that the "manipulation of the truth is really the common thread in so many of this year's stories," and the magazine wanted to highlight individuals who have "taken great risks in pursuit of greater truth."

The runner-up was President Trump, who was last named "Person of the Year" in 2016. Time typically only selects the U.S. president during years when they are running in an election; former President Barack Obama was named in 2008 and 2012, and former President George W. Bush was named in 2000 and 2004. Coming in at third place was Special Counsel Robert Mueller, with Felsenthal noting on Today that he has had a "remarkable year" and that "we're at the beginning of the crescendo of this story." Brendan Morrow

7:57 a.m.

President Trump got into a public feud with his former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and he's shaking up his White House, and Seth Meyers saw a bit of look-over-there misdirection in Trump's antics. As Tillerson explained, "Trump is fundamentally lawless — not only does he think he's above the law, he doesn't even understand the law," Meyers said on Monday's Late Night, and we just "got the clearest picture yet of his serial lawbreaking."

On Friday, federal prosecutors "made it pretty clear that the Justice Department has damning evidence on Trump's ties to Russia" and also "spelled out as clearly as possible in this document that they believe the president of the United States committed a crime by paying hush money to cover up affairs," Meyers said. Trump, who claimed total vindication, also acknowledged he hasn't read the documents. "Every day there are new revelations that seem to fade away, but this feels like a watershed," he said. "The Justice Department just called the president of the United States a criminal."

"That's right, the president has been implicated in multiple felonies — let that sink in," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "And just to be clear, this isn't even the collusion-with-Russia thing, or the obstruction-of-justice thing. We haven't even gotten to those yet. These felonies are about Trump paying hush money to his mistresses."

"It's pretty clear by now, Trump is in some deep sh-t — and he has to know it's getting serious because people on TV are saying so," Noah said. "That's right, things are so serious that people are talking about President Trump going to prison. And I know many people might want to see Trump in prison, but not me, okay? I do not want to see Trump go to prison — mostly because if you put Trump in a prison jumpsuit, it'll just look like he's naked. And why should we be punished for his crimes?" Watch below. Peter Weber

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