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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)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday he’s committed to allowing a vote on a bill for so-called “Dreamers” in January, but sees no rush to resolve the deportation threat posed by President Trump’s decision to end a program protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.  

“There isn’t that much of an emergency there,” he said. “There is no emergency until March. We’ll keep talking about it.”

Trump called for phasing out by March the Obama-era program that allows the young immigrants, many of them longtime residents, to get two-year deferrals of any deportation threat so they can legally attend school or work. Beneficiaries must be vetted for security purposes.

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  • White House
  • Taxes
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

President Trump on Friday morning signed a sweeping tax-cut measure — his first major legislative achievement — before heading off for a Christmas vacation at his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Fla.

The president also privately signed a short-term spending bill to fund government operations through Jan. 19. Congress approved it Thursday, after Republican leaders were unable to bridge differences in their own party as well as with Democrats to get agreement on funding for the full fiscal year. The stopgap bill punts fights on immigration and other issues to January.  

The tax bill, approved earlier this week in Congress in largely party-line votes, slashes corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% and also includes a host of other provisions for individuals, all intended to boost the economy.

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House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin greets House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin greets House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Friday urging him to ensure the House’s investigation into Russian interference with last year’s presidential campaign is not “cut short.”

“The American people deserve a comprehensive and fair investigation into Russia’s attacks,” wrote Pelosi, of San Francisco, in her letter. “Political haste must not cut short valid investigatory threads.”

The House Intelligence Committee has been probing the issue since March 1, and Democrats have repeatedly warned that Republicans are trying to wrap up its work prematurely. Pelosi said Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, should “take urgent action to ensure this investigation can continue.”

  • Congress
  • Immigration
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Congress approved a temporary spending bill to prevent a government shutdown, but failed to complete work on an $81-billion disaster aid package to help California, Gulf Coast states and Puerto Rico recover from wildfires and hurricanes, as lawmakers scrambled Thursday to wrap up business before a Christmas break.

The stopgap measure continues federal operations for a few more weeks, setting up another deadline for Jan. 19. But it left undone a long list of priorities that members of both parties had hoped to finish this year.

President Trump with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
President Trump with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Despite Trump administration efforts to discourage people from signing up, the number of people enrolling for Affordable Care Act coverage nearly hit last year’s level, the government revealed Thursday.

The 8.8 million people who enrolled in the 36 states that use the federal government’s healthcare.gov system significantly exceeded most forecasts.

The Trump administration stopped most outreach and other efforts this year aimed at getting people to sign up. The president also repeatedly said publicly that Obamacare was “dead.”

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. (Getty Images)

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted Thursday to condemn President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Trump’s threats to punish countries that voted against the U.S. position.

The resolution passed in an emergency session at U.N. headquarters in New York with 128 in favor, nine opposed and 35 abstentions.

The nonbinding resolution demands that Washington rescind its declaration, which included a plan to transfer the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in coming years. 

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) speaking during a committee hearing earlier this year.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) speaking during a committee hearing earlier this year. (Molly Riley / Associated Press)

House Democrats said they will fight Republican attempts to “discredit and undermine” the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating whether President Trump’s associates helped Russian meddling in last year’s election. 

“There is an organized effort by Republicans, in concert with Fox News, to spin a false narrative and conjure up outrageous scenarios to accuse special counsel Mueller of being biased,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said.  

Trump has said he has no plan to fire Mueller, but Democrats are alarmed by escalating criticism of the special counsel’s work. 

The Trump administration on Thursday blacklisted a Myanmar army general who it said oversaw human rights abuses committed by security forces against Rohingya Muslims.

Imposing economic sanctions against the general, Maung Maung Soe, was the toughest action the United States has taken in response to a brutal army offensive that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has described as ethnic cleansing.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said it had examined “credible evidence of Maung Maung Soe’s activities, including allegations against Burmese security forces of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and arbitrary arrest as well as the widespread burning of villages.”

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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.

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.