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US House to vote on government funding as immigration battle simmers

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The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives was set to vote on Tuesday on a short-term budget measure that would avert a rerun of last month’s three-day partial government shutdown, as lawmakers continued to grapple with divisive immigration measures.

The stop-gap measure drafted by House Republicans would extend funding through March 23, as well as provide for a year of funding for defense and two years of funding for community health centers, lawmakers said after they met on Monday night.

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But Senate Democrats are likely to balk at the House spending bill, likely requiring a last-minute retooling before existing money for government agencies runs out on Thursday. Republicans also control the Senate, but with a slim 51-49 majority they need some Democratic support to pass spending bills.

To avert another shutdown, both the House and the Senate must pass at least a short-term spending bill, the latest in a series of such temporary measures that have become entwined with a months-long debate over protections for young “Dreamer” immigrants.

A vote on the House measure was expected after 11:30 a.m. (1630 GMT).

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested on Monday increasing defense appropriations through Sept. 30 while continuing negotiations on spending for non-defense programs.

But Democrats have rejected that idea. If the House passes a short-term funding measure with long-term defense funding it would fail in the Senate, Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer has said.

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Lawmakers have also been struggling to reach a deal on an immigration bill, despite broad public support for helping Dreamers – immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Democratic former President Barack Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program to provide temporary protections for Dreamers, allowing them to study and work without fear of deportation.

Those protections were thrown into doubt last year when President Donald Trump ordered DACA halted on March 5, saying Congress should come up with a legislative solution. A federal court blocked the Trump administration last month from ending the program, and the administration’s appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.

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Democrats and Republicans in Congress are struggling to agree on bipartisan legislation that would protect Dreamers and boost border security. Trump has said any deal must also include funding for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrats strongly oppose.

(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker; Writing by Eric Walsh and Susan Heavey; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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‘A slam-dunk-case’: MSNBC analysts predict GOP will defend Trump — and ‘the guy is going to get off’

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More evidence was outed Sunday as the Wall Street Journal revealed emails from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who promised to keep the White House abreast of President Donald Trump's demand for an investigation by Ukraine. The news prompted an MSNBC panelists to explain that it wouldn't matter how much evidence was presented, Republicans will never vote to remove Trump.

Host Geoff Bennett asked about the witness testimony and preponderance of evidence that "all points in one direction at this point, that President Trump orchestrated this entire" Ukraine investigations.

"It's a slam dunk case, and yet we know the guy is going to get off," said Los Angels Times White House reporter Eli Stokols. "That's effectively what you're saying. Because all the testimony has lined up so closely, the fact that [EU Ambassador Gordon] Sondland has come to come in, and because testimony from [Ambassador Bill] Taylor and others, has had to change testimony, Republicans have no choice -- the president has no choice but to try to dismiss the entire thing as partisan."

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President helped ‘increase anti-Trump turnout’ in red-state governor’s races — which could spell disaster for the GOP

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President Donald Trump was once the Republican Party's greatest asset in an election, mobilizing thousands of supporters to rush to the polls. Recently, however, it seems he's now driving anti-Trump votes up so much that it may no longer be worth the Trump trouble.

“So you’ve got to give me a big win, please,” Trump told a Louisiana crowd this week before the GOP candidate lost the governor's race in a red state.

“What Trump did in Louisiana was increase voter participation. While he increased the pro-Trump turnout, he also increased the anti-Trump turnout. That’s kind of the lesson here,” polling analyst Ron Faucheux told The Washington Post in an interview.

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Fire holds off Hong Kong police at campus as democracy protests escalate

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A large fire held off an apparent police advance on the Hong Kong campus where hundreds of pro-democracy protesters were holed up early Monday, hours after officers warned they may use "live rounds" if confronted by deadly weapons in a dangerous escalation of the near six-month crisis engulfing the city.

Protests have rocked the global financial hub since June, with many in the city of 7.5 million people venting fury at eroding freedoms under Chinese rule.

China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent, and there have been concerns that Beijing could send in troops to put an end to the spiralling unrest.

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