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House approves short-term spending bill to avert government shutdown

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a two-week stopgap spending bill that would avert a government shutdown, sending it to the Senate.

Without action by Congress, funding for several federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, State Department and Department of Homeland Security, would expire. The stopgap bill extends funding through Dec. 21.

Before the stopgap bill expires, the Republican-led Congress is expected to consider a $450 billion bill to fund the departments through the fiscal year that ends next Sept. 30.

President Donald Trump has demanded $5 billion this year as part of his plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico that Democrats argue would be ineffective at keeping out illegal immigrants and illicit drugs.

Instead, Democrats want to continue improving less costly fencing and employing high-tech instruments to detect illegal border crossings.

Reporting by Amanda Becker; additional reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Trump’s hamfisted attempt to wag the dog with Iran unraveled fast

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

We can’t say with any certainty that Iran wasn’t behind the attacks on two ships in the Gulf of Oman this week, but it is clear that the Trump regime’s account of what happened unraveled very quickly. Shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a video of a small vessel removing something Pompeo said was a mine from the damaged port side of one of the ships, the vessel's owner said that it had actually been struck on its starboard side, above the waterline, by a flying object. If this were in fact an effort to pull a Gulf of Tonkin, then the fact that this was the best dog-wagging they could conjure up would be downright pathetic.    

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Dem lawmaker serves notice to Hope Hicks that Trump won’t be able to save her when he grills her during Wednesday’s hearing

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On Saturday, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) gave MSNBC's Alex Witt a brief rundown of what he wants to learn from former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks at her closed-door testimony next week — and warned that if Hicks tries to use executive privilege as a shield, Democrats will not stand for it.

"Let's talk about Hope Hicks," said Witt. "What do you expect to hear from her that she has not already offered in testimony?"

"Here's what's important about Hope Hicks," said Deutch. "She was a key part of the Trump campaign, which is a large part of the report is focused on. She was a key part of the Trump Administration in the early days, and that's the reason that she's a prominent figure in the Mueller report."

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Here is how ABC gave a helping hand to Donald Trump in his bid to be re-elected

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On Friday morning, some affiliates in ABC News’ digital division posted an article promoting an online “birthday card” for President Donald Trump — who turned 73. The “card” turned out to be linked to a petition website created by Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC). And those ABC affiliates, according to the Daily Beast, helped Trump and the RNC add to their e-mail lists.

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President!,” the content read. “To help him celebrate, the GOP has made him a digital birthday card.”

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