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Amanda Bayer, left with banner, and Marisol Maqueda, right, join a rally in support of so-called Dreamers outside the White House.
Amanda Bayer, left with banner, and Marisol Maqueda, right, join a rally in support of so-called Dreamers outside the White House. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

A promised year-end deal to protect the young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation collapsed Wednesday as Republicans in Congress — fresh off passage of their tax plan — prepared to punt nearly all remaining must-do agenda items into the new year.

Congressional leaders still hope that before leaving town this week they can pass an $81-billion disaster relief package with recovery funds for California wildfires and Gulf Coast states hit during the devastating hurricane season. But passage even of that relatively popular measure remained in doubt as conservatives balked at the price tag.

Rather than finish the year wrapping up the legislative agenda, the GOP majorities in the House and Senate struggled over their next steps.

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U.S. Capitol Police arrest a man wearing a Santa Claus hat during a protest against the Republican tax bill.
U.S. Capitol Police arrest a man wearing a Santa Claus hat during a protest against the Republican tax bill. (Alex Edelman / AFP/Getty Image)

Outside the U.S. Capitol, the lights on a towering Christmas tree are flipped on each evening, giving the Engelmann spruce a festive twinkle; inside the marble halls, wreaths and garlands decorate doorways and alcoves ahead of the holidays.

But the spirit of the season has been punctuated by other sights: a Jumbotron parked across from the Capitol reflecting pool broadcasts images of young immigrants who face deportation; Little Lobbyists, children with complex medical needs, were featured in a recent news conference; protesters filed into the visitor galleries to shout against the Republican tax plan.

While it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Capitol, it’s also shaping up to be a holiday season of protest.

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(Getty Images)

The top United Nations official for human rights, who has frequently criticized the Trump administration, has reportedly decided not to seek a second term, saying his work had become untenable.

Zeid Raad Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, notified his staff in an email that was obtained by several news outlets, including Agence France-Presse.

Staying when his four-year term is up for renewal at the end of August "might involve bending a knee in supplication,” AFP quoted Hussein’s email as saying.

(Shawn Thew / European Pressphoto Agency)

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, one of the top Democrats involved in the congressional inquiries into Russian interference in last year’s election, said Wednesday that any attempt by President Trump to interfere with the separate criminal investigation would be a “gross abuse of power.”

Warner, who is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivered his warning from the Senate floor as Republicans escalate their criticism of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team of prosecutors and FBI agents.

Some Democrats believe Trump is laying the groundwork to fire Mueller even though the president has publicly denied it. Mueller was appointed in May after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey.

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  • White House
  • Taxes
President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House.
President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House. (Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

President Trump is celebrating Republicans’ passage of the tax overhaul bill as a two-fer: On Wednesday, in addition to tax cuts, he checked off his promise to repeal Obamacare, pointing to a provision in the bill to end the penalty on Americans who don’t get health insurance.

"We have essentially repealed Obamacare," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Other provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act are still in place, and Trump and congressional Republicans failed completely on the “replace” half of their vow to “repeal and replace” the program.

  • White House
  • Taxes
President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House.
President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House. (Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

President Trump is celebrating Republicans’ passage of the tax overhaul bill as a two-fer: On Wednesday, in addition to tax cuts, he checked off his promise to repeal Obamacare, pointing to a provision in the bill to end the penalty on Americans who don’t get health insurance.

"We have essentially repealed Obamacare," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Other provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act are still in place, and Trump and congressional Republicans failed completely on the “replace” half of their vow to “repeal and replace” the program.

  • White House
  • Congress
  • Taxes
Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), left, is with GOP leaders in the Capitol. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), left, is with GOP leaders in the Capitol. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Congress gave final approval to the GOP tax plan Wednesday, 224-201, after the House took an unusual do-over vote to clear up differences with the Senate-passed bill. 

The $1.5-trillion package now heads to President Trump, who plans to sign it into law.

The House had approved the tax bill on Tuesday but was forced to take another vote Wednesday because a couple of provisions in the version it approved were found to be in violation of Senate procedures. Those provisions were dropped before the Senate gave its approval early Wednesday. 

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Scott Lloyd is director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Scott Lloyd is director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

President Trump’s lawyers rushed to the Supreme Court and U.S. appeals court in Washington on Monday evening to file emergency appeals seeking to prevent an immigrant in detention, dubbed Jane Roe in court, from having an abortion. 

That set the stage for a legal showdown on whether the administration can block pregnant minors in custody from choosing to have an abortion.  

But the legal clash, which the administration has seemed eager to have, fizzled out Tuesday when the government’s lawyers admitted the “17-year-old unaccompanied minor” in their custody was actually 19. They said they had obtained her birth certificate and realized she was not a minor after all.

The Thomas fire rages near Ojai this month. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
The Thomas fire rages near Ojai this month. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Congress is set to consider an $81-billion disaster aid package that includes wildfire recovery money for California and other Western states as well as hurricane relief with a price tag reflecting a year of record-setting natural calamities.

The legislation, the text of which was released late Monday, would provide almost twice as much as the $44 billion the White House sought last month to cover relief efforts along the Gulf Coast and in the Caribbean.

Republican congressional leaders added more money after California lawmakers objected that the administration had failed to include help for areas damaged by wildfires and Democrats protested that the overall amount President Trump asked for was insufficient.