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WASHINGTON — If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants the Senate to wrap up its consideration of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week, he probably won’t be able to wait for the FBI to do the same.

“The Senate will vote on Judge Kavanaugh here on this floor this week,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “After the FBI shares what they found, senators will have the opportunity to vote.”

Asked later in the day how long he would give senators to read and digest the FBI’s report on Kavanaugh before moving to a full Senate floor vote, McConnell downplayed the time lawmakers would need. “It shouldn’t take long,” he said.

But for the Senate to hold a final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination by the end of this week, the GOP leader would need to start a procedural process on the Senate floor within the next day or two — well before the FBI is expected to hand over the results of its supplemental background investigation.

Senate Republicans have given the FBI until this Friday to complete the new investigation launched after Sen Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said last Friday that his support for holding a final vote would be conditional on the completion of a new probe.

Flake told reporters on Friday that the agreement was that the Senate would not move forward on the nomination until the investigation was completed. Some of his Republican colleagues vocally disagreed, arguing that the FBI investigation was just a delay tactic: The Senate, they said, should vote as soon as possible.

“If you think this is about a search for the truth, you need to put down the bong,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday. “This is about winning. This is about power. This is just, win, baby, win. It doesn’t matter what the cost. That’s all this has turned into, and it’s time to vote.”

Whenever McConnell officially starts the process, it would take around five days for it to culminate in a final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

First, the majority leader would need to file a motion to end debate on the nomination. Technically, he can do this whenever he wants.

The following calendar day would be a waiting period, when there could be no votes related to the nomination.

The next day — one hour after the Senate convenes — the chamber could vote on the cloture motion to end debate. That motion used to require 60 votes. Not anymore: The number changed to a simple majority when the GOP used the nuclear option to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

That vote would signal the start of up to 30 hours of debate, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats — though there’s a possibility that Republicans could yield back some of that time, which would shorten that time period.

Then the full Senate would vote, with just a simple majority needed to confirm Kavanaugh.

For McConnell to stick to his end-of-the-week timeline, he would have to start the process on the Senate floor by Wednesday — a risky move, since it could irk Flake, along with fellow potential Kavanaugh swing voters Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

If both Collins and Murkowski — the only two Republicans who remain formally undecided on Kavanaugh — were to vote against the nomination, and no Democrats supported it, it would fail.

In other words: As of Tuesday, it was clear that McConnell could still technically stick to his ideal Kavanaugh vote schedule. Less clear was whether — with an eye on the outcome — he should.

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O’Rourke, other Dems don’t want tent city’s contract renewed

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/ Source: Associated Press

By The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Rep. Beto O’Rourke and four other Democratic members of Congress toured a remote tent city in West Texas on Saturday where they said that 2,700 immigrant teens are being held at a cost of roughly $1 million per day.

The lawmakers urged the nonprofit running the facility not to renew a federal contract that expires Dec. 31, a longshot request that could effectively shutter the camp. It was supposed to be temporary but has instead taken in more children and taken on a permanent feel with soccer fields, a dining facility and tents housing separate sleeping quarters for boys and girls.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, the 2018 Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in El Paso, Texas.Eric Gay / AP file

O’Rourke — a Texan who has been mentioned as a potential 2020 presidential candidate after nearly upsetting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in his deep-red state — was joined by U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tina Smith of Minnesota, and California Rep. Judy Chu.

O’Rourke said he and his colleagues weren’t allowed to speak to the children in any meaningful way.

“They kind of nodded their heads, but what are they going to say when everyone around them is watching?” O’Rourke said after touring the facility. “But there was something in the look on their faces that we saw, the way that they weren’t really engaged in the sports that they were playing out on those fields.”

“We need to shut it down,” Chu added. “It is inhumane. It is a child prison. It has no right to exist.”

O’Rourke made no mention about his possible White House aspirations after making his fourth visit to the camp just outside Tornillo. He noted the area was about an hour’s drive from his native El Paso, which borders Mexico at the westernmost tip of Texas.

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Where Americans stand apart (and together) on holiday gifts

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 / Updated 

By Dante Chinni and Sally Bronston

WASHINGTON — It’s the holiday season, the time of year where we put aside our differences and celebrate goodwill toward all. But in 2018 America, politics can find its way into unexpected places — even into the gifts under the tree or the boxes you’re wrapping this weekend.

Data from Simmons Consumer Research shows political partisanship even seeps into what toys and gifts we’ll be exchanging this season. The company asked people what toys they are looking to buy this season and some patterns emerged.

If your child got a toy from a Trump voter, there’s a decent chance it is something from Nerf.

If your child got a toy from a Trump voter, there’s a decent chance it is something from Nerf.

Among Trump voters, 36 percent said they expect to shop for Nerf products in the next six months. That’s eight points higher than Clinton voters, 28 percent said they would be shopping for Nerf with the holidays approaching.

Nerf is a lot more than just spongy footballs and basketballs. There are lots of good, safe, Nerf guns out there. That may be driving the partisan difference here. Trump voters, in general, tend to be more supportive of gun rights.

Looking at a gift from that uncle who is a known independent voter? The Simmons data suggests Hot Wheels may in your future.

Looking at a gift from that uncle who is a known independent voter? The Simmons data suggests Hot Wheels may in your future.

More than four in 10 independents told Simmons they were planning on buying something from the universe of miniature die-cast vehicles. The number among Democrats and Republicans is about 10 points lower.

And even in 2018, Barbie lives on as a holiday purchase among Democrats and Republicans alike.

Even in 2018, Barbie lives on as a holiday purchase among Democrats and Republicans alike.

About a quarter of people who are registered with each party said they would be purchasing the fashion/career doll that has endured for nearly 60 years. No word on whether they purchased her as a beekeeper, an astronaut, or a farmer — a few of Barbie’s many professions.

But beyond those toys, there is one children’s gift everyone seems to agree upon: Legos.

There is one children’s gift everyone seems to agree upon: Legos.

Majorities of men and women, liberals and conservative and, yes, even Clinton and Trump voters said they were planning on buying the building brick toy as the holidays approached.

For the older kids, including those above the age of 18, video games are often the gift of choice and the data suggest a couple of points on them.

First and foremost if you are buying a gift for an adult, video games are more popular among Democrats. They are more likely to say they have played games on a list of popular titles. But leaving that fact aside, there are some partisan breakdowns in the world of screens and controllers.

The most popular games for both Democrats and Republicans are Call of Duty, and Fortnite.

The most popular games for both Democrats and Republicans are “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite.” Further down the list, Democrats favor Super Mario Kart, while Republicans lean towards MLB, the popular baseball game.

And in this time of year that is always special for children, the data from Simmons reveal one final nugget that is bigger than just toys or games; it is about parenting.

Majorities of Republicans and Democrats say they want to provide their children with things they didn’t have as a child.

Majorities of Republicans and Democrats say they want to provide their children with things they didn’t have as a child. And majorities of Republicans and Democrats admit that they often indulge their children with “little extras.” Or, as Simmons Chief Scientist Steve Millman says, “When it comes to spoiling the kids, we’re all just Americans!”

That’s likely one big note of political agreement when getting together with friends and relatives this year during the holidays. And that’s a good thing to have this season because if this week’s news is any indication, discord is likely to reign in next year’s political discussions.

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Trump’s ‘temper tantrum’ over wall funding is leading to shutdown

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By Ben Kamisar

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Sunday said President Donald Trump is preventing a deal to avert a partial government shutdown because of a “temper tantrum” over his demand for more funding to build a border wall.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” just five days before funding deadline to keep several key federal agencies open, Schumer, D-N.Y., said that he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are standing firm in their offers to Trump and that it’s up to the president to come to the table.

“We Democrats, Leader Pelosi and I, offered the president two options as to how to avoid the shutdown,” he said.

“We should not let a temper tantrum, threats, push us in the direction of doing something even our Republicans colleagues know is wrong.”

Shutdown gamesmanship has defined the final weeks of the lame-duck congressional session, as both sides struggle to reach a spending agreement.

The key sticking point has been over funding for the border wall, the signature promise Trump made on the campaign trail.

The president wants at least $5 billion for construction on the wall, a steep price tag that Democrats have called a non-starter. They’ve proposed $1.6 billion for what they deem “border security,” arguing that the money won’t go toward a wall and that Republicans are responsible for finding a solution since the party has control of Congress (even though any agreement would need some bipartisan support in the Senate).

That divide brought Schumer and Pelosi to the White House last week for an unprecedented and tense exchange with Trump that played out on television.

Complicating the dynamic is Trump’s willingness to accept responsibility for the shutdown. During that Oval Office meeting with Schumer and Pelosi, Trump said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”

It’s an argument that may resonate with those in his base who see the wall as an important symbol of a tougher approach to border security, but it was also a comment Democrats think will shield them from responsibility in a shutdown.

Schumer argued that there are not enough votes for the full $5 billion authorization in either the House or Senate, a point that Republicans have contested. Accusing the president of putting government funding at risk to “throw a bone to his base,” Schumer said that it’s up to Republicans to get Trump to the table.

“They just have to have the guts to tell President Trump he’s off on the deep end here and all he is going to get with his temper tantrum is a shutdown. He will not get a wall,” Schumer said.

During his interview, Schumer also addressed another major point of disagreement in Congress — the path forward on health care.

He blasted a Friday decision in federal court that ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional as an “awful ruling” and promised that Democrats will fight “tooth and nail” to ensure that the law is protected.

Also appearing on “Meet the Press,” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of GOP leadership, criticized the Affordable Care Act as a “poorly thought-out” plan that’s had “negative” impacts on families. But cautioned that the ruling has “no immediate impact” until the case can be appealed.

And while admitting that there’s far from a consensus in Congress around a health care plan, even amongst Republicans, he said that there’s universal concern on the right about a Democratic push toward single-payer health.

“The one thing I think we would be able to unite on is Medicare-for-all would wind up meaning Medicare for none,” he said.

“There is no way that will happen and there’s no way voters will let that happen.”



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