In it, but not of it. TPM DC

As Donald Trump blanketed the airwaves defending his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, he frequently stumbled when asked for concrete details of how such a ban would work.

How, for instance, would customs officials identify people as Muslim? Just ask them, Trump said.

Would the ban apply to U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. from abroad? At first his campaign said yes, it would. But Trump himself later seemed to indicate it would not.

Would there by any other exceptions? That appeared to be a work in progress, with Trump exempting certain subcategories of Muslims as interviewers pressed him.

The shoot-from-the-hip-first-and-ask-questions-later approach was typical Trump. Leaders lead. Details are for pedants. But it was particularly discordant as most of the political world recoiled over Trump's most xenophobic pander yet.

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The beauty – or horror, depending on your perspective – of a big, convoluted omnibus is that its sheer complexity allows for the inclusion of provisions that might be politically difficult or unpopular as standalone measures. The must-pass nature of an omnibus means the pressure is on lawmakers to agree to a compromise they may otherwise have rejected.

In addition to the budget agreement due this week, lawmakers are also hashing out a package of what’s known on the Hill as “tax extenders” – the annual reauthorization of various tax breaks – providing an additional opportunity for bargaining.

Behind the scenes, leadership is engaged in some high-stakes horse trading to settle on final deals to wrap up this year's legislative business.

What are the trade-offs to look for? Here’s a rundown:

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Almost everyone in the voting rights community agrees that the unexpected case challenging long-held assumptions about the concept of “one person, one vote” -- which is being heard by the Supreme Court next week -- could have devastating consequences. But a point of contention among experts is what threat a more incremental decision poses to the already crippled Voting Rights Act.

The case is called Evenwel v. Abbott. It is coming out of Texas, where the challengers are contesting the state legislature’s senate redistricting plan. At issue is whether the use of total population to draw districts -- as Texas and other states have near universally done -- is unconstitutional.

The challengers suggest that some other metric -- perhaps one that counts districts by citizens or by eligible voters -- is preferable. They say their votes have been diluted because they live in a district that has a higher percentage of eligible voters compared to district that is roughly the same size in total population, but has a lower rate of voter eligibility -- in part because of the presence of Latino noncitizens.

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Republicans have included a rider in a must-pass spending bill that enhances screening for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Democratic leaders rejected it, raising the stakes for a game of chicken over government funding.

Congressional leaders have already set spending caps, but are up against a Dec. 11 deadline to determine how that money should be spent. Controversial riders like the one on refugees endanger the process of meeting the deadline and expand the possibility that lawmakers may need to pass a short-term spending bill to extend the deadline to Dec. 18.

While Republicans and Democrats alike dismiss that there is any real threat of a shutdown, the issue of refugees specifically has the potential to trip up the ongoing negotiations over the omnibus spending bill.

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Alabama now faces a federal lawsuit over its voter ID law after closing 30 or so driver's licenses offices, many of them in areas with high African-American populations.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is bringing the suit on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP. It was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama.

"The Photo ID Law was conceived and operates as a purposeful device to further racial discrimination, and results in Alabama’s African-American and Latino (or Hispanic) voters having less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate effectively in the political process and to elect candidates of their choice," the complaint says, alleging the law violates the Voting Rights Act as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters Tuesday that Republicans and Democrats had a lot of work to do before the holiday break. Not on the list? Making it harder for Syrian refugees to come to America.

“We have a lot to do and a lot of things to worry about, but refugees is not one," Reid said in response to a question about whether or not inserting language to slow the flow of Syrian refugees could be a poison pill for the omnibus bill.

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