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President Trump congratulates Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after Congress passed tax cuts in December. (Associated Press)
President Trump congratulates Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after Congress passed tax cuts in December. (Associated Press)

White House officials head to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for budget talks with congressional leaders ahead of a mid-January deadline to avert a federal shutdown that could imperil President Trump’s agenda.

But Democrats want to talk about more than funding levels, insisting on a legislative solution to protect immigrant “Dreamers” from deportation and other issues in exchange for helping the Republican majority pass the spending bill.

The afternoon meeting, expected to convene at House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s office, resumes high-stakes negotiations that fizzled last year as both sides seek to use the Jan. 19 deadline for leverage.

A $1.3-trillion spending bill was approved by the House and sent to the Senate on Thursday after a flurry of unsuccessful Democratic efforts to stall it and force legislators to take up a measure to protect young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

The vote came as legislators faced a deadline of Friday for a government shutdown. It also came just hours after the release of the 2,232-page bill, meaning that few voting on the bill had a clear idea of what it included, which several members openly admitted.


The morning after Democrat Conor Lamb's electoral upset in a Pennsylvania House district that backed Donald Trump by 20 points, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi shrugged off questions about whether she was worried that the candidate had campaigned on a pledge to replace her.

"We won," said the ever-confident Pelosi. "I just wanted him to win."

House and Senate negotiators reached tentative agreement Wednesday on a $1.3-trillion bill that would boost both defense and domestic spending, but at the same time put off solutions to other contentious issues, such as the fate of young immigrants in the country illegally.

The announcement of the deal late Wednesday came two days before the federal government would have been forced to shut down. The House and Senate now face a narrow opening to approve the 2,232-page measure by Friday.

Former Vice President Joe Biden on stage with The Times' Patt Morrison at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles in January.
Former Vice President Joe Biden on stage with The Times' Patt Morrison at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles in January. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Joe Biden started it. President Trump counter-punched. Even pro wrestling has more realistic plot lines than this.

Biden, the 75-year-old former vice president, retold a fantasy he’s had about exchanging fisticuffs with Trump over comments that the president made about women that emerged during the 2016 election campaign on the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” video.

"They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said ‘no,’” Biden said Wednesday during a sexual assault prevention event at the University of Miami. “I said, 'If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'"

Iran nuclear deal delegations Friday in Vienna
Iran nuclear deal delegations Friday in Vienna (AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. official working to save the Iran nuclear deal said Wednesday that he held “very constructive” talks with key European allies, but could not say whether it would satisfy President Trump, the chief critic of the disarmament accord.

Brian Hook, the State Department director for policy planning, said a round of talks in Vienna last week with diplomats from Germany, France, Britain and other signatories to the 2015 accord were aimed at fixing what Trump sees as major flaws.

The talks left several issues unresolved, Hook told reporters on a conference call.

The president and the porn star sounds like a twisted variant on a fairy tale, or one of those Hollywood rom-coms, or maybe something from the oeuvre of Stephanie Clifford.

Clifford, better known by her stage name, Stormy Daniels, is associated with such works as "Sex Door Neighbors," "Lust on the Prairie," "Calipornia" and "Operation: Desert Stormy."


Federal Reserve officials see a stronger U.S. economy and signaled Wednesday that would mean a slightly faster pace of interest rate hikes in coming years.

For the moment, they're sticking with plans for three small hikes in their benchmark interest rate this year while adding one more hike in 2019 than they had indicated in December.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions (Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump faulted the Justice Department on Wednesday for its handling of a case involving the young immigrants known as “Dreamers,” citing the punditry of Fox Business Network analyst Lou Dobbs.

“Department of Justice should have urged the Supreme Court to at least hear the Drivers License case on illegal immigrants in Arizona,” Trump tweeted. “I agree with @LouDobbs. Should have sought review.”

Dobbs, long an anti-immigration hardliner, is not a lawyer.

President Trump faced new legal and political jeopardy Tuesday as a former Playboy Playmate and alleged paramour sued to break a confidentiality agreement and a judge rejected his move to quash a lawsuit stemming from a charge of sexual assault.

The developments, coming on opposite coasts, promised many more months — if not years — of legal skirmishing, keeping Trump's personal conduct at the fore of this election season and complicating GOP efforts to protect their congressional majorities in November.