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Vote in Senate on ‘Dreamers’ hinges on bipartisan pact: McConnell

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said he would bring a “Dreamers” immigration bill to the Senate floor if bipartisan negotiations between senators and the Trump administration produce an agreement by the end of January.

McConnell also said in a statement that he would offer the measure as a “free-standing vote,” without specifying when it would occur.

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Many supporters of the immigration initiative have argued that it would have the best prospects for passage if it was coupled with a must-pass bill such as a spending measure early next year that potentially increases military spending.

The immigration measure would be designed to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Democrats in Congress have been pressing for passage well before early March, when an Obama-era program is due to be completely phased out by the Trump administration.

Earlier on Wednesday, Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake said in a statement that McConnell had promised to bring such a bill to the full Senate next month. Flake is one of a group of seven Democratic and Republican senators negotiating a bill.

Former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order temporarily protected around 800,000 Dreamers from deportation. President Donald Trump announced in September he was terminating the program but had asked Congress to devise a more permanent solution by March.

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A San Francisco federal judge on Wednesday wrestled with whether to order the government to keep DACA in place, while lawsuits challenging Trump’s decision unfold. At a hearing, U.S. District Judge William Alsup questioned whether he had the authority to review the decision to end DACA, but also said the administration’s justification for its move was brief and “conclusory.”

Alsup did not rule from the bench.

One of the plaintiffs, DACA recipient Dulce Garcia, attended the hearing and said she was in the sixth day of a hunger strike intended to urge lawmakers to make protection of DACA recipients a condition for passage of any more federal spending bills.

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Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement, “Bipartisan negotiations continue and we’re fighting to pass this measure soon.” He did not provide details on any progress being made in the talks.

A bipartisan group of senators led by Durbin and Republican Lindsey Graham have been holding private negotiations over how many Dreamers would be covered by legislation giving them temporary legal status and whether they would ultimately be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship.

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The negotiations have been complicated by Republican demands that increased border security be included in any legislation.

Republicans also have been clamoring for more immigration enforcement throughout the United States. Democrats have been opposed to that as part of a Dreamer measure, saying it is a way for the Trump administration to step up its deportations of undocumented relatives of Dreamers, thus breaking up families currently in the United States.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington and Daniel Levine in San Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio and Tom Brown)

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Columnist nails Republicans for only caring about Hunter Biden now that his father is running for president

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One of the critical questions that must be answered by Republicans, according to one Washington Post columnist, is why they didn't care about Hunter Biden's position at Burisma for so many years.

In a Sunday piece, James Downie asked why Republicans didn't do anything about Hunter Biden five years ago when it was first revealed that vice president's son was on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The House and the Senate were being run by Republicans until this year. They haven't had problems with other partisan investigations against high-profile leaders. There were ten investigations into the Benghazi attacks, three hearings, 29 witnesses, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours. Yet, it was only after Joe Biden announced he was running against President Donald Trump that Republicans discovered an issue.

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Republican staffer caught spying on Democrats during Judiciary Committee meetings

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A Republican staffer from the Ways and Means committee was caught spying on Democrats during their work over the weekend.

According to a Judiciary Committee source, the female staffer was ultimately discovered and ran out of the committee room once it was discovered she was there, tweeted Olivia Beavers, a writer at "The Hill."

"A Judiciary source says the committee, which has been practicing for their Monday impeachment hearing this whole weekend, came across a female GOP Ways and Means staffer in the hearing room today, but that she ran out once discovered," she tweeted.

https://twitter.com/Olivia_Beavers/status/1203784487559213056

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New York Times editorial board asks Trump if he didn’t do anything wrong — why he won’t let witnesses testify

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The New York Times editorial board issued a scathing op-ed Sunday detailing the ways in which President Donald Trump is destroying one of the key branches of the United States government.

While many presidents battle with Congress, Trump has taken his "obvious contempt" to a whole new level. But if he was truly innocent of the accusations he's facing, then why is he hiding so much.

"If Mr. Trump is so clear in his own mind that he didn’t try to pressure the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election, why won’t he send the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to testify under oath that there was no quid pro quo?" asked The Times. "Instead, he has issued a blanket refusal to allow officials of his administration to testify or submit documents demanded by Congress. His approach is pitting Republican House members’ fealty to him against their respect for their own institution. They are making a fateful choice to diminish the House."

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