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  • Congress
  • Budget

The government stumbled into a midnight shutdown early Friday as a defiant Senate Republican blocked a speedy vote on a massive, bipartisan, budget-busting spending deal, protesting the return of trillion-dollar deficits on the watch of Republicans controlling Washington.

A shutdown — technically a lapse in agency appropriations — became inevitable as GOP Sen. Rand Paul repeatedly held up votes on the budget plan, which is married to a six-week government spending measure. The Senate recessed about 11 p.m. Thursday and reconvened just after midnight.

Paul was seeking a vote on reversing spending increases and refused to speed things up when he was denied.

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A sweeping two-year budget deal announced by Senate leaders Wednesday promises to end the shutdown threats that have plagued Congress, but fails to address the unresolved issue of immigration and will add to a deficit already ballooning from the GOP tax cut plan.

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  • Congress
  • Immigration

Without making any new promises, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday he was committed to bringing an immigration bill to the floor as the “next big priority” to protect young Dreamers from deportation by a March deadline. 

Ryan is trying to strike a delicate balance by appealing to Democrats and his own centrist Republicans —  whose votes he needs to pass a sweeping budget deal —  while not specifically embracing any particular legislative proposal that could alienate conservatives or be met with disapproval by President Trump, whose support he needs for any immigration plan.

“To anyone who doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not,” Ryan said, referring to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump is ending March 5. A court case is allowing it to continue temporarily.

Television producer Mark Burnett, left, and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) with President Trump at 2017's year's National Prayer Breakfast.
Television producer Mark Burnett, left, and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) with President Trump at 2017's year's National Prayer Breakfast. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

A year after telling guests at the National Prayer Breakfast to “pray for Arnold” Schwarzenegger’s television ratings as host of the “Celebrity Apprentice,” President Trump gave a more traditional address at Thursday’s event.

Trump’s only reference to the show this year came when he introduced Mark Burnett, who produced the show and introduced Trump at last year’s breakfast.

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President George W. Bush speaks at a forum on Oct. 19, 2017.
President George W. Bush speaks at a forum on Oct. 19, 2017. (Seth Wenig)

President George W. Bush said Thursday that "there's pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled" in the 2016 American presidential election, forcefully rebutting fellow Republican President Trump's denials of Moscow trying to affect the vote.

While never mentioning President Trump by name, Bush appeared to be pushing back on Trump's attempts to have warmer relations with Russia, as well as his comments on immigration.

The White House did not immediately comment on Bush's remarks.

Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic U.S. senator representing Illinois, has emerged as one of President Trump’s most pointed critics, repeatedly pushing back at his attempts to portray her party as unpatriotic.

President Trump’s White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday following abuse allegations from two ex-wives, but he won’t be leaving the West Wing until a later date.

President Trump’s White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday following abuse allegations from two ex-wives, but he won’t be leaving the West Wing until a later date.

Porter’s departure will leave a hole among the tight circle of staff members who see President Trump on a near-daily basis.

Porter is close to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, often traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One and was responsible for handling key documents and briefings that made it into Trump’s hands.

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In a Jan. 18 meeting with top military officials, Trump’s desire was heard as a presidential directive, the Washington Post reported.

President Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the U.S. armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate military strength, officials said Tuesday.

The Washington Post, which was first to report the plan, said Trump wants an elaborate parade with soldiers marching and tanks rolling, but no date has been selected.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the request Tuesday evening. She said Trump wants the Pentagon to "explore a celebration" that will allow Americans to show appreciation for the military.

Congress is risking another federal government shutdown as House Republicans on Tuesday approved a temporary bill loaded with extra military spending that will almost certainly face a filibuster from Democrats — and some Republicans — in the Senate.