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Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

Alice Ollstein contributed reporting.

During a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump backed a proposal from Democrats to tie aid for Hurricane Harvey to a three-month debt limit increase and a short-term government funding bill through December – much to the reported consternation of congressional Republicans.

“In the meeting, the President and Congressional leadership agreed to pass aid for Harvey, an extension of the debt limit, and a continuing resolution both to December 15, all together. Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), announced in a statement after meeting with Trump.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One after the meeting, Trump confirmed that he reached a deal with congressional leaders on a package to raise the debt limit and fund the government through Dec. 15, tying that to an initial aid package for Hurricane Harvey.

Republican sources told the Washington Post and Politico’s Jake Sherman that Trump backed the Democrats’ plan despite opposition from Republican leaders present in the meeting.

The White House had been pushing for Congress to tie a long-term debt limit increase to legislation providing initial disaster relief funding for Hurricane Harvey.

Though Republican leaders reportedly did not support Democrats’ pitch to link Harvey aid to a three-month debt limit increase and government funding measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Wednesday afternoon that he would support the plan. McConnell told reporters that Trump reached the deal with Schumer and Pelosi in the meeting with congressional leaders today.

Trump’s decision to side with the Democrats left conservatives fuming. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) described the deal as fiscal malpractice, and the conservative Heritage Foundation blasted the proposal as “political cowardice.”

Earlier on Tuesday, after Democrats first proposed tying Harvey aid to a three-month debt limit increase, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called their proposal “ridiculous and disgraceful” and accused Democrats of playing politics.

President Donald Trump dispatched Attorney General Jeff Sessions to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday and quickly suggested that same night that he could “revisit” the issue if Congress fails to restore DACA’s protections.

And on Wednesday, a defiant Trump said that he had “no second thoughts” about ending the program.

Trump made the comment to reporters during a meeting with congressional leaders from both parties, according to a White House pool report.

The President has waffled in his public comments on the program that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation. Early on in his presidency, when he was fresh off of a campaign spent targeting immigrants, Trump said he would treat DACA recipients with “great heart.”

Upon announcing the decision to end the program on Tuesday, the Trump administration urged Congress to pass legislation restoring DACA’s protections. But it’s not clear that Congress will be able to pass such legislation in the six-month window provided by the Trump administration.

So on Tuesday night, Trump confused matters by suggesting he could “revisit” the program if Congress failed to pass legislation protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors. It’s not clear what Trump meant by this, especially considering that the administration declared DACA to be a product of executive overreach.

During his meetings with congressional leaders, Trump also addressed the “many, many things” Congress must pass this month in a vague comment.

“Hopefully we can solve them in a rational way and maybe we won’t be able to,” he said, according to the pool report. “We’ll probably know pretty much at the end of this meeting or the meetings that we’ll be having over a short period of time. But our country has a lot of great assets and we have some liabilities that we have to work out, so we’ll see if we can do that.”

Asked if he would back a Democratic proposal to tie disaster relief aid for Hurricane Harvey to a three-month debt limit hike, Trump told reporters, “We’ll see.”

Donald Trump Jr. will meet with staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee behind closed doors on Thursday to discuss any contact with Russian officials, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday night, citing three Democratic members of the committee.

The meeting will likely center on Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting. Both have yet to speak with the committee.

Trump Jr. is set to meet with staff on the Judiciary committee Thursday, but some senators are planning to attend as well, per the Washington Post.

A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce a resolution on Wednesday condemning the white nationalists who participated in the Charlottesville rallies in August, Politico reported Wednesday morning.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will sponsor the resolution aimed at forcing President Donald Trump to either sign or reject a condemnation of “white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.” Trump does not have to address most resolutions, but the sponsors will introduce it as a joint resolution, which would require Trump’s signature.

“Let there be no mistake: what happened in Charlottesville was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by a white supremacist, one that tragically cut short the life of a young woman, Heather Heyer, who was speaking out against hatred and bigotry,” Warner said in a statement to Politico. “We will be pressing our colleagues to swiftly and unanimously approve this resolution in order to send a strong message that the United States Congress unconditionally condemns racist speech and violence.”

In the wake of the deadly attack in Charlottesville, Trump failed to fully condemn white nationalists, instead claiming that “both sides” were at fault for the violence. Trump’s comments pandering to white nationalists prompted condemnations from Republican lawmakers, departures of CEOs from White House jobs panels and an exodus of charities from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

David Clarke, the former Milwaukee County Sheriff, was kept from a position in the Trump administration in part because new chief of staff John Kelly objected to Clarke’s hiring, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday, citing unnamed White House officials.

Clarke, who has come under scrutiny for harsh treatment of inmates, claimed in May that he was under consideration for a job in the Department of Homeland Security. But that post never materialized, and Clarke abruptly resigned as sheriff in August.

On Tuesday, Clarke joined the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, taking a position backing Trump but outside of the administration.

Clarke had been considered for a job in the White House over the past couple months, but Kelly helped block the former sheriff from joining the administration, per the Daily Beast. Kelly also kept Clarke from a job in the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year, sources working in and close to the Trump administration told the Daily Beast. Kelly sought to block Clarke form joining the administration due to the controversy surrounding Clarke’s harsh jailing tactics, the Daily Beast reported.

The New York Times’ Glenn Thrush also reported that Kelly blocked Clarke from joining the Trump administration.

Just hours after the Trump administration announced it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Donald Trump said that he would “revisit” DACA if Congress failed to pass a bill with the program’s policies.

It’s not clear how Trump would “revisit” DACA without the help of Congress after he claimed on Tuesday that he ended the program in an attempt to limit the executive branch’s power.

By nixing DACA, Trump fulfilled a major campaign promise after he ran on a platform attacking immigrants. However, once in office, Trump wavered on the issue and said that he would treat DACA recipients with “great heart.” He echoed this sentiment Tuesday afternoon, saying he has “great love” for DACA recipients and urging Congress to act on the matter.

In response to the Trump administration’s Tuesday announcement that it is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a very brief statement that left unclear whether he would push for legislation restoring its protections.

“President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law. Today’s action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake,” McConnell said in a statement on Trump’s decision. “This Congress will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday morning that the administration would roll back DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation. Beginning on Wednesday, the federal government will not accept new applications for the program, and only will renew protections for current DACA recipients whose benefits expire before early March 2018.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and several other Republicans in Congress have expressed support for legislation that would restore the protections DACA offers. However, it will be an uphill climb in both chambers: Democrats will likely be wary of any legislation that ties DACA to other immigration measures, like limits on legal immigration or funding for the border wall, while Conservative Republicans will likely reject a bill that restores DACA without implementing other policies to secure the border or limit immigration.

McConnell may not be inclined to do Trump any favors when it comes to DACA, given that the two have been feuding. The tense relationship between the two leaders spilled into the open last month when McConnell said that Trump had “excessive expectations” about the pace at which Congress can pass major legislation. Trump hit back with several tweets bashing McConnell over his failure to repeal Obamacare.

The Environmental Protection Agency denied a report that the agency halted grant approvals for the state of Alaska for two weeks after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) helped tank the Senate’s last attempt to repeal Obamacare.

“A state was never was singled out in the grant review process; grants were never withheld,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement.

The Washington Post reported Sunday night that EPA employees were told to stop approving grants for the regional office that covers Alaska on the same day that Murkowski voted against an Obamacare repeal bill. The order was later narrowed to apply to Alaska only, and a two-week hold delayed $10 million in federal funds for the state, according to the report.

Aides to Murkowski and to Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) told the newspaper that they were unaware the EPA had delayed funds to the state.

President Donald Trump himself went after Murkowski, one of three Republican senators to vote down the Senate Obamacare repeal bill in late July, for her decision. He criticized her opposition to a procedural vote on the bill on Twitter.

And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly had threatened to retaliate against Murkowski if she opposed the Senate’s repeal effort. The two later made public amends with a tweet about a beer summit.

The Post also reported that the EPA has demanded that all awards approvals go through a political appointee in the agency’s public affairs department, John Konkus. Konkus, a former Trump campaign staffer, has told EPA staffers that he is looking out for “the double C-word,” an apparent reference to climate change, in grant applications, according to the report.

Asked about Konkus’ role in the grant process, Bowman said, “decisions about grants are to ensure funding is in line with the Agency’s mission and policy priorities.”

The departure of Keith Schiller, a longtime aide and confidante of President Donald Trump’s, has left the President’s allies worried how Trump will act without Schiller at his side, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday morning.

Schiller, who led the Trump Organization’s security operations before working in the White House as director of Oval Office operations, has decided to leave the White House, CNN and CBS News reported over the weekend. Schiller had never planned to stay long at the White House, and he will soon return to a job in private security, according to Bloomberg News.

His decision to leave the White House was accelerated by the new regime implemented by chief of staff John Kelly, who revoked Oval Office walk-in privileges from Schiller and several others, according to CBS and Bloomberg News.

As a longtime employee of Trump’s, Schiller was one of Trump’s most loyal and trusted aides. The President dispatched Schiller to fire FBI Director James Comey and former White House aide George Gigicos.

Trump was “crushed” by Schiller’s decision to leave the White House, per Bloomberg News. Several allies told Bloomberg news that Trump was losing an “emotional anchor” with Schiller’s departure, and that the loss could lead Trump to butt heads with Kelly.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) relationship with President Donald Trump grew tense while the Senate struggled to pass a bill to repeal Obamacare, a frustrated McConnell would meet Trump’s mindless chatter on the phone with silence in an attempt to keep the President on topic, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday night, citing unnamed people familiar with the discussions.

McConnell would prepare for the calls with notes on health care, while Trump would try to begin conversations with unrelated banter, and McConnell simply stopped responding, per the Wall Street Journal:

As it became clear Mr. McConnell couldn’t summon enough Republican votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Senate majority leader stopped responding to the president’s chitchat, the people familiar said.

“Mitch?” the president said when Mr. McConnell fell silent in one call. “Are you there?”

Mr. McConnell waited a beat, then responded. “Yes, Mr. President. Back to the bill,” according to those familiar with the talks.

Trump’s relationship with McConnell deteriorated in July and August as the Senate failed several times to repeal Obamacare. The feud spilled into the open at the end of August, with Trump publishing several tweets bashing McConnell. The poor rapport between the two leaders could make it difficult for Trump and Congress to work together in September on several must-pass bills.

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