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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Frank Thorp V

WASHINGTON — A last-ditch effort by a handful of Senate Republicans to reopen the government abruptly ended just 24 hours after it began in yet another sign that the government shutdown is nowhere near ending. It’s rapid demise also showed there is little goodwill remaining between Democrats, Republicans and the president.

An exasperated Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who launched the effort Wednesday morning with fellow Republicans frustrated by an ongoing impasse, told reporters, “I’m done.”

“I don’t know who to talk to, and I don’t know what else to do,” Graham added.

The end of the effort happened as fast as it began. Graham organized a group of four other Republican senators, all of whom have expressed concern about the shutdown — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — to come up with a proposal that would give President Donald Trump what he wants for border security while adding provisions that the Democrats want.

Members involved in the discussions knew that the idea was a long shot but still they tried to fill a void in negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had taken a backseat, repeatedly saying that it is up to Democrats and Trump to reach an agreement.

“We have a role here as lawmakers, and you have a group of individuals that are coming together and seeing if we can make something happen,” Murkowski told reporters Thursday morning.

The group pitched their ideas to McConnell in the morning. They proposed re-opening the government for a short period of time to give time for broader discussions, according to one senator involved in the negotiations. The boarder discussion could encompass relief for Dreamers eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or assistance for 400,000 immigrants who from Haiti and Central American who are set to lose their Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, this year, senators said.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence was on Capitol Hill, meeting with individual members, including Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who also wants an immediate end to the shutdown. Gardner said he spoke to Pence about “ways to bring (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi back to the table.”

Pelosi didn’t outright dismiss the idea of adding DACA to the negotiations. She said Democrats are “absolutely” ready to discuss Dreamers, but memories of the last round of talks on border funding and a DACA deal have resurfaced.

“You saw what happened last time. Trump backed out,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

And Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who was part of the bipartisan group negotiating the 2018 immigration deal, said the White House is a difficult negotiating partner.

“I spent six weeks doing that last winter. We got to a good result and the White House torpedoed it,” King said. “So the real question is ‘What’s the point?’”

Even Sen. Tillis noted that the president is the unknown factor in negotiations.

“We gotta know what the president wants,” he said.

Republicans were cautiously optimistic that the White House would be open to the idea. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner attended the gathering in Graham’s office on Wednesday and one Republican senator told NBC that he was optimistic about a broader compromise after speaking with the president and his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney this week.

“They supported it then, which I think is a decent indication.” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said, referring to the president’s support of a $25 billion wall in exchange for legal status for DACA recipients.

But then the White House gave signals that it would not entertain the idea.

“If the Supreme Court rules against the President Obama decision, which he knew would not hold up, we will have a deal with the dreamers,” Trump said while visiting the southern border in Texas on Thursday.

The negotiations ended Thursday afternoon, one day after they began.

“It’s very difficult when we’re dealing with people who do not want to budge at all in their positions, and that’s the president and Speaker Pelosi,” Collins said. “They are each very dug in on their positions and that’s made this very difficult to resolve.”

And now Graham, who was opposed to Trump declaring a national emergency, released a statement saying that Trump should declare a national emergency.

“It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier,” Graham wrote in a statement.

Garrett Haake contributed.

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Sturgeon told quit the ‘grandstanding!’ Hunt slaps down whingeing SNP chief over Indyref2



JEREMY HUNT has told Nicola Sturgeon to quit the “grandstanding” over calls for a second Scottish independence referendum as a war of words between the Foreign Secretary and Scotland’s First Minister erupts.

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DNC names 20 candidates who will appear on stage for first Democratic debate



The Democratic National Committee on Thursday named the 20 presidential candidates who qualified to appear on stage later this month in the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign.

They are:

  1. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
  2. Former Vice President Joe Biden*
  3. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey*
  4. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg*
  5. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro*
  6. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
  7. Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
  8. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii*
  9. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York*
  10. Sen. Kamala Harris of California*
  11. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
  12. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington*
  13. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota*
  14. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas*
  15. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
  16. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont*
  17. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
  18. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts*
  19. Author Marianne Williamson*
  20. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang*

The DNC, which is sanctioning the debate, set two ways for candidates to qualify — fundraising and polling. To make the stage, candidates needed to have either at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least 65,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

The candidates marked with an asterisk qualified through both polling and grassroots fundraising thresholds, the DNC said. The others qualified through polling only.

Those who did not meet the threshold for the first debate include: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

Bullock told NBC News’ Chuck Todd Thursday in an interview on “Meet the Press Daily” that he was “disappointed” with the DNC’s decision but declined to say if he would challenge it.

“I certainly knew getting in at the time I did would give me fewer opportunities to be on shows with youand others, but I had a job to do,” said Bullock, who announced his bid in mid-May. “And if it ultimately ever came down to choosing between getting Medicaid reauthorized, getting 100,000 Montanans health care versus getting in earlier just to try to bump up on yet another poll, I would make that same choice time and time again.”

He added that he is an “important voice” in the field, since Montana voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016, and noted that there will be more opportunities to introduce himself to voters before the first primary next year, including future debates.

“I am the only one in the field that won in a Trump state and we need to win back some of the places we’ve lost,” he said.

The two-night debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. The event will air live across all three networks from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights.

Ten candidates at a time will appear on stage, but the lineup for each night has not been determined, nor has where the candidates will stand. Both nights will have the same format, NBC News previously announced. It is the first of 12 primary debates the DNC has planned.

Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate, NBC announced Tuesday.

The debate will also stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including,, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms.

Dartunorro Clark contributed.

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Tom Watson: Could Tom Watson challenge Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership?



TOM WATSON is the deputy Labour leader and is calling for a fresh referendum, but could he challenge Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership?

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