Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

This story was updated at 3:30 p.m.

Progressives and immigrant advocates are furious at Senate Democrats for agreeing to end a short-lived shutdown without any guarantee that they’ll win protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as youngsters, seeing it as a full-scale capitulation by the party.

The majority of Senate Democrats voted Monday for a bill to fund the government through Feb. 8, less than three days after standing together to force a short-lived government shutdown. In doing so, they managed only to secure a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that he’d allow them to bring the DREAM Act to the floor for a vote if no deal is reached before then.

The deal infuriated the left-wing groups and immigration advocates who had cheered their Friday stand — with many warning of recriminations, the first major schism on the left since President Trump’s election.

“It’s morally reprehensible and political malpractice. It’s [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer’s job to keep his caucus together and stand up for progressive values and he failed on both fronts,” Ezra Levin, a leader of the Indivisible Project, told TPM shortly after the vote. “We’re going to be holding the Democrats accountable who caved.”

Levin’s group was among those on a conference call late Monday morning encouraging Democrats to stand strong on the vote. When TPM informed them during the call that Senate leaders had decided against doing so, the news was met with a stunned silence. After a few seconds Frank Sharry, the head of the pro-immigrant America’s Voice, weighed to say he had “a lot of concern” about its details.

“They grew a pair on Friday night and they couldn’t find them today,” Sharry told TPM in a follow-up conversation after the vote. “Friday night, Democrats stood together and said ‘we’re going to take on this racist bully.’ … By Monday morning they were climbing down for very little in return. Come on, Democrats.”

Sharry said he and other advocates wanted Democrats to stare down President Trump and the GOP for the next few days to let the pressure build and try to force them to the negotiating table once again. Instead, Trump refused to negotiate — and Democrats were the ones to crumble.

“What were Democrats thinking?” he said. “We’re pissed.”

He’s not the only one.

“Enough is enough. We cannot rely on empty promises from those who have already proven to play politics with the lives of Dreamers. Today, Republicans — and too many Democrats — in Congress betrayed our American values and allowed bigotry and fear to prevail,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lorella Praeli said in a statement. “We will be watching, and will make sure voters this November know if their representatives stood for Dreamers or for their deportation.”

“The Democrats need to stand strong,” said Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden.

Outside groups weren’t the only ones who were furious. A number of Senate Democratic offices felt that their leadership had led them into a situation where they had no good options, hurting moderates by forcing a shutdown and then hurting the entire party with its base by capitulating so fast.

More than a dozen Senate Democrats broke with party leaders to vote against the bill, including a number of potential presidential candidates, a sign they know exactly where the base is. While most of them declined to take shots at their leaders, they clearly weren’t happy with the sudden about-face, warning not to trust McConnell’s promises.

“I don’t believe he made any commitment whatsoever and I believe it would be foolhardy to believe he made a commitment,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told reporters after the vote.

Red-state Democrats facing tough reelections this fall didn’t want the shutdown square-off over immigration in the first place. On the other side, liberal Democrats who gladly stood with party leaders on Friday weren’t happy they decided to cave on Monday, even as many went along on the vote.

“I’m so goddamn mad,” one senior aide to a Democratic senator who voted to reopen the government on Monday after voting against it on Friday. “We went to the mat to prove to DREAMers we would, without any clear plan for moving forward. And we ended up in a position where moderates realized that — too late — and forced us into giving up and reopening [the government].”

Other Democrats said said it was a losing fight from the start — one where they only could have won with a broad argument about GOP dysfunction hurting voters, not a specific one on immigration.

“Shutting down the government over any issue never works, and we put so much pressure on DACA being the reason that it lost the message narrative. This was our best way out,” another senior Senate Democratic aide told TPM. “The outside groups have to own this. Dreamer groups saw our messaging and then boxed us into a corner, we couldn’t say ‘these are all the things we’re fighting for.’ … We failed fast, that’s okay. Now we need to turn and pivot and do a better job of unifying around a message on their dysfunction.”

Democrats say the decision to bow out now lets them fight another day and hopefully get things right this time. But they admit they’re not out of the woods yet, warning that the original shutdown may hurt Democrats’ electoral prospects in 2018 both by temporarily sticking the red-state members with the shutdown and hurting base enthusiasm by quickly caving in.

Unless Democrats managed to secure the DREAM Act in the next few weeks — a long shot as the White House ruled out a compromise piece of bipartisan legislation immediately after the vote — they warned things might just get worse for the party.

“I have no idea what the end game is here,” said the first aide.

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This post was last updated at 1:15 p.m. EST. Alice Ollstein and Tierney Sneed contributed.

The Senate voted to end a government shutdown on Monday afternoon after Democrats agreed to support a short-term deal in exchange for a promised vote on a bill to protect undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

The lopsided 81-18 vote is a major step towards ending a shutdown that had begun as the clock hit midnight on Friday night. And while many immigration advocates are irate about a deal they see as a capitulation, it’s far from the end of the fight over immigration and government funding.

“The Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement. We will vote today to reopen the government,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor early Monday afternoon. “The Republican majority now has 17 days to prevent the DREAMers from being deported.”

The deal will keep the government open until Feb. 8, prolonging the showdown over whether to return legal status to undocumented immigrants brought here as children as well as the fight over military spending levels and other major issues.  The bill also funds the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is running out of funds, for the next six years. And it brings a temporary reprieve for federal government workers as well as the red-state Democrats who were increasingly panicking the deal could imperil their reelection chances.

“If we’ve learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand and would not have understood in the future,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said shortly before the vote.

McConnell committed to bring a version of the DREAM Act to the floor and let it be debated through an open amendment process if lawmakers can’t agree to a deal before then.

“The outcome is not preordained. There may be a new version that can attract even more support.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate working towards a bipartisan deal, told reporters shortly after the vote.

Senate Democratic leaders’ decision to take the deal was immediately lambasted as a cave-in from immigrant advocates and many on the left, and could hurt the party with its base, though Senate Democrats from states Trump won are glad the fight is over for now.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the leading advocate fighting for legal status for undocumented immigrants in the Senate, backed up Schumer’s move before bucking up immigration advocates who are furious about a move many see as a cave.

“To all the DREAMers who are watching today: Don’t give up,” Durbin said. “Three weeks from now, I hope to be joining you and celebrating.”

But while Durbin and most Democrats came along, many of the party’s other fiercest immigration advocates — and nearly all of its potential 2020 presidential candidates — voted against it.

Among the no votes: Potential presidential candidates Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“I don’t believe he made any commitment whatsoever and I believe it would be foolhardy to believe he made a commitment,” Harris said about McConnell’s promise for a DACA vote.

Notably, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) also voted against the move — significant both because he’s the only red-state Democrat facing a tough 2018 reelection to do so, and because of how far he’s come on immigration since voting against the DREAM Act in 2010.

Tester said DACA wasn’t the reason he voted against the deal, however, lambasting the inability for Congress to offer the military long-term stability and a boost in spending.

“There is nothing about our military having the predictability it needs. It’s another CR with another CR that’s going to happen after that CR,” he told reporters as he exited the vote. “There’s just no commitments except for DACA and that’s not why I voted no on Friday. It was because this whole place is screwed up.”

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This story was updated at 3:10 p.m.

Cranky lawmakers returned to Congress on Saturday no closer to an agreement on ending the government shutdown than they were when the government ran out of funds at midnight the night before. The only thing they could agree on was that it was the other guy’s fault.

Democrats continued to demand that President Trump and GOP leaders include a fix to reinstate legal status for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in any agreement, lambasting Trump for constantly changing his mind on what it would take to reach a deal, while Republicans accused their colleagues across the aisle of throwing a tantrum over immigrants.

Both sides seemed gearing up for a long-term shutdown, confident they’ll win argument with voters and seeming poised to wait until they see how the public reacts to it over the coming days and see if the other side blinks. And while lawmakers voiced hopes that they might be able to reach a short-term agreement before the end of the weekend, few sounded particularly optimistic — with some worried that the longer the shutdown dragged out, the harder it would be to reach a solution.

“I’d like to say it’s going to end pretty fast and I think it probably will end pretty fast because it’s stupid to be doing what we’re doing — but as of right now I don’t know if it’s going to be Friday or Sunday or Monday or Tuesday,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) told TPM early Saturday afternoon. “If it goes past Monday it’s a problem because it becomes easier to stay out and then an issue gets blurred and then personalities get involved and then nobody remembers why they’re fighting but they’re fighting and that’s when you really have trouble.”

That trouble already seemed well in place, with senior lawmakers and the White House going after one another in unusually personal terms as they sought to blame the other side for the ongoing shutdown.

“Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with jello. It’s next to impossible,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters, slamming Trump for tentatively agreeing to a series of possible DACA deals before reneging on those pledges. “As soon as you take one step forward the hard right forces the president three steps back… It’s next to impossible to strike a deal with the president because he can’t stick to the terms.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) went hard after Schumer.

“He thinks the entire government should be shut down until he gets his way on illegal immigration,” he said in a floor speech to open the Senate on Saturday. “The solution is to end the foolishness that’s hurting millions Americans who have done absolutely nothing to deserve this.”

Things only got worse from there, as Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney accused Schumer of lying about the amount he offered Trump to fund the wall.

“Mr. Schumer is going to have to up his game a little bit and be more honest with the president of the United States,” he said in a White House briefing.

Schumer’s spokesman shot back:

Some lawmakers were more optimistic that they might be able to reach a deal to reopen the government for less than a month, with Feb. 8 being a date some in both parties bandied about.

“I think that there is a deal to be had, it’s just a matter of the will to get it done, and that’s the frustrating part. But I’m guardedly optimistic we’ll get something done by Monday,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), one of a handful of red-state Democrats who voted with the GOP to keep the government open on Friday night, told TPM.

But many said it was up to the president to show leadership, and nearly all Democrats remained firm in their demand for DACA to be a part of any deal.

“Only the internal workings of the cerebral mechanism of President Trump would answer that question. It is impossible for me to understand,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) told TPM when asked if he thought Congress might find a compromise before the end of the weekend.

And as they left an afternoon meeting, Democrats didn’t seem any closer to having landed on a way forward.

The White House made it clear that immigration was a nonstarter.

“We are committed to making sure the American people, especially our great military and the most vulnerable children are taken care of. The President will not negotiate on immigration reform until Democrats stop playing games and reopen the government,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

As both sides dug in, the vulnerable red-state Democrats who face tough reelections this fall voiced growing frustration.

“Forget about elections, forget about all that. This is not what we’re sent here to do. This is not our job. Our job is to keep the place open and running in more of a normal fashion. That’s not happening,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), another Democrat who broke with his party, told reporters as he entered a Democratic meeting Saturday afternoon. “I am pissed off.”

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The Trump administration is looking to soften the blow of the impending government shutdown, a sign it’s worried its impact could hurt them politically.

“We’re going to manage a shutdown differently, we’re not going to weaponize it,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters late Friday morning, less than 13 hours before the government is set to shut down.

“The military will still go to work. They will not be paid. … folks will still be fighting the fire out west. They will not get paid,” he continued. “Parks will be open this time and they weren’t before. … The post office will be open, the TSA will be open.”

Those moves come as a clear sign that the Trump administration is trying to limit the shutdown’s impact on voters (and not screw up their vacation plans) so as to minimize the political fallout of a government shutdown in a city where the GOP has unified control of the government.

While it remains unclear who will take the brunt of the blame for a shutdown, early polls indicate the public will place the blame mostly on Trump and Republicans. A Quinnipiac survey released Thursday found that just 34 percent of Americans would blame Democrats for a shutdown, 32 would blame congressional Republicans and 21 percent would blame Trump.

Senate Democrats have dug in their heels in demanding support for a bipartisan compromise for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and it’s not even clear Senate Republicans have 50 votes to back the plan to keep the government open for another month that the House passed Thursday night, much less the 60 votes they need.

Mulvaney also accused Democrats of “hypocrisy” for demanding DACA as part of a funding deal after opposing the 2013 shutdown — though he himself was instrumental in pushing for that shutdown in an effort to gut Obamacare as a member of the House Freedom Caucus at the time.

“This is exactly what they accused the Republicans of doing in 2013,” he said.

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This story was updated at 1:25 p.m. EST.

President Trump and congressional Republicans are poised to mark the one-year anniversary of the GOP seizing unified control of Washington by shutting down the government.

Funds for the federal government run out at midnight, and without a last-minute breakthrough in negotiations it appears that the GOP doesn’t have the votes to keep the lights on as dawn breaks on the first anniversary of Trump’s Jan. 20th inauguration.

Senate Democrats have dug in their heels in opposing the GOP’s plan for a bill to fund the government for one more month after Trump rejected a bipartisan deal to protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that he ended late last year.

With Republicans holding a narrow Senate majority – and a handful of GOP senators voicing opposition to the plan as well – it appears the party is far short of the 60 votes it needs to avoid a shutdown.

“There’s near zero chance of this thing passing,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) told TPM as he left for the night Thursday.

There’s no clear plan B, either. Some senators in both parties have suggested a bill to fund the government for a few days to leave room for more negotiations. But House members are already heading home — increasing the likelihood of at least a short-term shutdown.

Trump organized a last-minute meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Friday afternoon to try to avert a shutdown. But it’s unclear whether there has been any change in the leaders’ positions, or whether congressional Republicans will go along if they do strike a new deal.

Trump dodged any talk of a shutdown during a Rose Garden rally with anti-abortion leaders on Friday afternoon, though he highlighted his looming anniversary.

“Tomorrow will mark exactly one year since I took the oath of office, and I must say the country is doing really well,” he said.

While it remains unclear who will take the brunt of the blame for a shutdown, early polls indicate the public will place the blame mostly on Trump and Republicans. An ABC News poll released Friday found 48 percent of Americans would blame Trump and Republicans for a shutdown, and just 28 percent would blame Democrats. A Quinnipiac survey released Thursday found that 34 percent of Americans would blame Democrats for a shutdown, 32 would blame congressional Republicans and 21 percent would blame Trump.

Trump had planned to leave D.C. for his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida on Friday afternoon, and has a major campaign fundraiser scheduled for Saturday. The White House confirmed that he’d canceled his Friday departure ahead of the possible shutdown.

White House officials are bracing for a shutdown — while looking to lessen its impacts by keeping things like national parks and the post office open, a sign they’re wary of how the politics will play for the GOP.

“I’m handicapping [a shutdown] now at some place between 50 and 60 percent,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Friday morning at the White House.

“I think it’s ratcheted up. We were operating under a sort of 30 percent shutdown up until yesterday, I think it’s ratcheted up now,” he said a bit earlier. “We’re working to make sure there is no shutdown but if the Senate or the House can’t get together to finalize a deal we’ll be ready.”

The Senate returns at 11 a.m., with no clear path forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated he plans to hold a vote on the House-passed plan for a one-month extension of funding and a six-year extension of funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan at some point on Friday, but it’s not even clear if he has 50 votes for the plan, much less the 60 needed for passage.

One year ago Saturday, Trump declared a sea change in how government would work, promising an improvement for the people.

“What truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again,” he said during his inaugural address.

But Democrats say his decision to scuttle a DACA deal has led to the current situation — and many congressional Republicans privately agree. The pending shutdown raises questions about what changes Trump has wrought.

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This story was updated at 4:15 p.m to include new developments in the House. Alice Ollstein contributed.

The threat of a government shutdown seems to be growing by the minute — and Republicans are bracing to get blamed if it happens.

A raft of Senate Democrats announced Thursday they won’t back a one-month extension of government spending. Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan’s promise that he can pass the plan in his chamber looks increasingly uncertain.

The GOP plan to push through a one-month continuing resolution for government funding paired with a six-year extension of funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program was met with hostility from a number of Senate Democrats who’d voted for the last continuing resolution. As Thursday wore on, the math in the Senate looked increasingly tough for those aiming to keep the government running.

“It’s one more instance in which the American people look at Congress and say ‘Why can’t these people get something done?” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) told TPM. “With Republicans in the majority, that’s a knock on us. … The reality is the Republicans have the majority in the House and Senate, and the White House.”

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), a member of GOP leadership, admitted the numbers don’t look good.

“I’m concerned that we, yeah, we may not have 60 votes in the Senate,” he told Politico. “And I think that’s obviously problematic.”

Because of GOP defections and health-related absences, at least 14 Democrats will likely need to back the plan for it to pass. But of the 18 Democrats who backed the last continuing resolution in December, a growing number said they almost certainly would not vote for the new bill unless President Trump supported a bipartisan plan to provide protections from deportation for undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Trump last year ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last year, calling the status of those undocumented immigrants into doubt.

That group included Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

“Republican leadership – led by President Trump – has brought us to the brink of a government shutdown.  The House bill does not have my support.  It leaves too much undone, and it is woefully inadequate,” Leahy said in a statement.

“They want to give us another punt for a month? It makes no sense,” Kaine told TPM.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Jon Tester (D-MT) also voiced serious concerns with the plan while leaving the door open a crack to change their minds.

“I’d be leaning no on that baby,” Carper told TPM with a laugh after sarcastically describing himself as a “cosponsor” of the bill.

Tester said the short-term bill is “not what we’re looking for.”

Republicans need 60 votes to pass the plan in the Senate, and with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) out due to cancer treatments they have only 50 viable votes (Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) has been in and out with health problems too, and it’s not clear if he’s around as a needed vote either).

Several Republicans are defecting. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in promising to vote against the latest plan on Thursday, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) voted against the last continuing resolution, a sign he’d do so again.

Other Democrats facing potentially tough reelections weren’t as eager to discuss the bill. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told TPM he wouldn’t take a position unless the House passes it, and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) said “call my office” when asked what his position was. But Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the only Democrat TPM talked to who said he’d definitely support it, and it doesn’t appear there are enough Democrats that might waver to get the bill through the Senate.

House leaders projected more confidence. Ryan said late Thursday morning that he’d be able to get the votes.

I feel we’re making really good progress with our members,” he said. “Our members are understanding the gravitas for the situation.”

But almost no House Democrats seem ready to help Ryan out — including the 14 who voted for the last continuing resolution, many of whom told TPM they would not back the bill. And members of the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus indicated Thursday afternoon that they weren’t ready to get onboard, while saying the GOP is still short on votes.

“It’s still our belief that there’s not the votes to pass it with Republicans only,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I promise you, he doesn’t have the votes.”

That raises the chances it might fail on the House floor ahead of a scheduled Thursday night vote.

The government will shut down at midnight Friday night if Congress can’t pass a bill, less than 36 hours from the time this story was published.


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Hours after President Trump seemed to slam congressional Republicans’ plan to pass a short-term extension for government funding, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he’d talked to Trump and the president “fully supports” his bill.

“I am sure where he stands. He fully supports passing this legislation. I just talked to him an hour and a half ago,” Ryan told reporters during a press conference late Thursday morning.

Ryan claimed he hadn’t seen Trump’s tweet indicating exactly the opposite, however.

Soon after Ryan’s press conference the White House issued a statement indicating the President did in fact support the House GOP plan for a short term spending bill.

Just hours earlier, Trump had strongly signaled he wasn’t happy with Republicans’ plan to include a six-year funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program as part of a bill to keep the government funded for another month. That’s crucial, as CHIP funding is Republicans’ best hope to leverage some Democratic votes, which they may need to pass the bill through the House and definitely will need on the Senate side.

That dealt a blow to Ryan’s attempts to paint Democrats as obstructionists for demanding a renewal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. as children. Trump earlier lambasted a bipartisan compromise to give those immigrants permanent legal status in exchange for some border security funding and minor changes to other immigration programs.

Ryan insisted he would have the votes to pass his plan, though that’s far from clear — and the Senate looks like an even tougher lift.

I have confidence we’ll pass this because members will understand why on earth would we have a government shutdown, hurt the military… It’s unconscionable that Democrats would walk away from CHIP, from funding our military,” he said, later claiming the hardline House GOP members who aren’t happy with a continuing resolution and could torpedo the deal “are understanding the gravitas for the situation.”

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President Trump torched Republican leaders’ plans to avoid a government shutdown on Thursday morning with a new demand that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program not be included in any government funding bill, increasing the chances of a government shutdown in less than 48 hours.

GOP leaders had planned to include a six-year extension of funding for the CHIP program as a way to pressure moderate Democrats to vote for a one-month extension of government funding as they scramble for enough votes to avoid a shutdown.

But Trump took to Twitter to question that plan.

The comments left top GOP negotiators scratching their heads — and boosting the risk of a government shutdown after Friday.

“I’m not sure what the President means,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said on Fox News Thursday morning when asked about the President’s new stance — before making the case that CHIP funds should remain in the bill in spite of Trump’s new position.

“What this would do though is it would reauthorize the CHIP program for, I believe, five years. So it’s not just a 30-day extension. But Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy have to figure a way to cobble together the 218 votes. Apparently, they feel like adding this will help them get to that 218 votes,” he said.

Trump’s latest move left other Republicans seething.

House leaders had planned on a vote on that bill as early as Thursday afternoon to try to ram one month of government funding through. They were banking that they could get enough hardline Republican Freedom Caucus members onboard, while pressuring enough Democrats with the CHIP funds to ram the bill through the House and force the Senate to back the plan as the only option in town.

This is far from Trump’s only major shift during these negotiations — he’d reportedly privately given positive signals a bipartisan group of senators on their plan to give more permanent legal status to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for some border security funding and immigration law changes, before sandbagging those efforts in a hostile meeting where he allegedly made his now-infamous “shithole” comments.

And he issued a new demand for funding for “the wall” in his Thursday morning tweetstorm as well:

But even without Trump’s latest goalpost-moving, the GOP leaders’ plan didn’t look foolproof.

Senators in both parties have increasingly warned they might vote against another short-term extension, with Democrats furious that GOP leaders won’t include the bipartisan DACA compromise and some Republicans warning that they wouldn’t back a short-term plan because it puts the squeeze on military funding.

Shortly before Trump’s latest shift, a pair of key moderates — Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with Democrats, and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) — announced they would vote against the short-term continuing resolution.

“I’m opposing the CR in its current form as well. And it’s not because immigration isn’t included,” Rounds said on CNN Thursday morning. “For me, it’s a matter of defense.”

Congress has until midnight Friday to figure out a way to avoid a government shutdown — a possibility that’s looking more likely by the hour as of Thursday morning. And Trump’s continued shifts aren’t making it any easier for GOP leaders as they try to avoid the first shutdown when one party has unified control of government in recent memory.

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After a shocking win in a rural Wisconsin senate race Tuesday, Democrats are feeling increasingly bullish they can win another target deep in Trump territory, flip their first House seat since Trump’s 2016 victory and strike fear into the hearts of Republicans across the country.

Their target: a blue-collar southwestern Pennsylvania House seat recently vacated by disgraced former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) in territory national Democrats haven’t seriously contested this decade.

Strategists in both parties see a surprisingly close race developing in the district ahead of the March 13 special election. After some major investments, Republicans are pulling out the big guns on Thursday: A visit from President Trump himself, who will hold an official event on the district’s edges where he’s expected to boost the Republican candidate.

“Clearly there’s a lot of intensity and energy on the Democratic side and they’ve outperformed their recent numbers in other special elections. We’ve got to take this very, very seriously,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) told TPM. “I do think we are taking this seriously and I think we’re going to win, but we’re not going to be asleep at the switch.”

Republicans know a loss in this deep-red, blue-collar district after blowing an Alabama Senate race, getting crushed in Virginia’s gubernatorial race and losing more than 30 statehouse seats in the past year would further alarm their party — and be a sign that the 2018 Democratic wave might be large enough to drown some members who never thought they’d even need to swim.

“If we lost that race, it’d be quite an earthquake. I don’t know if I’d say on the scale of Alabama, but it’d be close,” one Pennsylvania Republican congressman told TPM.

Republicans have reason for concern.

Democrats have landed a top-notch recruit in Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former Marine and federal prosecutor whose family is a Democratic powerhouse in the Pittsburgh area. Republicans have by their own account nominated a somewhat lackluster candidate, dubbed “not Jack Kennedy” by one national Republican. State Rep. Rick Saccone (R) is a conservative firebrand who’s known as a weak fundraiser.

That matchup, paired with white-hot opposition to the president from the left, has created a single-digit race, according to private polling from both sides. And while Democrats admit it’s an uphill battle in the GOP-friendly district, they’re feeling bullish that they can pull off an upset that would prove they can win in rural, populist terrain.

“I think he’s going to win,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) told TPM Monday night, calling it “a very strong indicator of a good year” for Democrats that the race is competitive.

The district stretches from suburban Pittsburgh deep into rural territory along the West Virginia border — Coal Country meets the Rust Belt, what one GOP congressman described to TPM as “The Deer Hunter district” (the film was based on the region).

Trump won it by a lopsided 20-point margin, improving on Mitt Romney’s 17-point victory there. And while it contains some of Pittsburgh’s tonier southern suburbs, much of the district is blue-collar populist — the type of ancestrally Democratic area that’s been moving gradually towards the GOP for decades where Trump’s right-wing populist nationalism sold particularly well.

Saccone is bear-hugging Trump in his campaign — the president remains relatively popular there, though his numbers have slipped — and is touting the GOP’s recent tax cuts and his own military experience on the trail (he’s an Air Force vet).

“Rick will work tirelessly to continue advancing President Trump’s bold agenda in Congress,” Saccone adviser Bob Branstetter said.

But Lamb isn’t looking to make the race about Trump.

“The President coming to campaign for Conor’s opponent doesn’t change what Conor or the campaign are doing,” Lamb campaign manager Abby Murphy said.

Lamb is positioning himself as an independent voice that fits the district. He’s pledged not to support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for speaker, talks up his support for gun rights and qualifies his support of legal abortion with the caveat that as a Catholic, he personally opposes it.

That makes it harder for Republicans to paint him as a Pelosi foot-soldier, though they say they’ll do so anyways. And while many Democrats want to run against Trump, he’s going harder after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who polls show is almost as unpopular as Pelosi in the district, attacking Ryan for his plans to shrink Medicare and Social Security.

“Connor’s independent, he’s made that very clear that the interest is going to be his district, whereas Rick Saccone has hitched his wagon to Paul Ryan,” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), whose district abuts the 18th, told TPM.

On the other hand, Saccone is running hard to the right — unlike his predecessor Murphy, who easily held onto the district until it was revealed late last year he’d had an affair and encouraged the woman to have an abortion. Murphy long defended labor rights and had a good working relationship with many local unions, while Saccone has sponsored right-to-work legislation, fought against public employee unions and is best known for religious conservative pushes in the statehouse.

If Democrats can win in this district, they think they can win almost anywhere — and the building 2018 wave might be big enough to help them win the more rural areas they need for House control and defend tough populist states like nearby West Virginia as well as Indiana and Missouri.

“It will show if rural voters are still convinced Donald Trump is still going to make their lives better, and I’m wondering if some are realizing that may not be the case,” a national GOP strategist told TPM, warning a Saccone loss would be “a five-alarm fire” for the party.

Republicans still think they have the edge, a view most Democrats agree with. But Trump’s visit is the latest in a flurry of GOP activity as they look to stave off what would be a crushing loss in a district they shouldn’t need to spend to keep. The main House GOP super-PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has 50 field staff working the ground with an aim for 250,000 voter contacts. Ending Spending, a right-wing super-PAC funded by the Ricketts family, is already on the air with $1 million in positive spots touting Saccone’s record, as is another Ricketts group that backs Trump.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH) held a D.C. fundraiser for Saccone on Wednesday. Trump’s political operation is gearing up for more involvement, including likely campaign stops from Vice President Mike Pence and help from Trump-aligned outside groups.

Neither candidate has reported fundraising yet, but Doyle said Lamb had brought in more than a half-million dollars by the end of the year — an impressive figure — while a source close to Saccone’s campaign would only say that he’d raised at least $100,000 by the end of 2017. Lamb’s first campaign ad debuts Thursday.

“This is a Republican district, but when you have you have an A candidate on the D side and certainly not an A candidate on the Republican side, Jack Kennedy reincarnated on the Democratic side and not Jack Kennedy on ours, that is a concern,” said one national Republican involved in the race.

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Democrats pulled off a shocking upset to win a rural Wisconsin state Senate seat Tuesday night, triggering alarm bells for Republicans across the state and nation.

Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated a well-known local Republican in a district that President Trump had carried by a whopping 55 percent to 38 percent just over a year ago.

Wisconsin Republicans sounded the alarm about what the results could mean, including that Gov. Scott Walker (R), who faces reelection next fall, suddenly looks considerably more vulnerable than he did one day ago.

This special election is the latest sign that Democrats are poised to have a huge 2018 midterm election — and one of the first concrete examples that they’re well-positioned not just in suburban territory but in rural areas as well. That’s crucial, as many of the U.S. senators they’re defending this year represent heavily blue collar, populist states like Missouri, West Virginia (and Wisconsin), and if they’re going to win back the House they need to pick up at least some GOP-leaning seats in more rural areas.

The district where Democrats triumphed last night covers the western sliver of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, encompassing some Minneapolis exurbs as well as a good swath of rural territory. Trump won it big after Romney carried it by a six-point margin in 2012, and it’s long been one of Republicans’ best-performing parts of the state. No Democrat has held this state senate seat in nearly two decades.

But Schachtner won by a nine-point margin despite the district’s strong GOP lean and her allies being outspent by GOP outside groups by a comfortable margin.

It’s not the first Democratic pickup in rural territory in the last 12 months, and they’ve shown big gains in other more rural, populist areas. But this result is scaring Republicans — and it should.

“The greater takeaway from the Wisconsin SD-10 special election is an alarm klaxon for Republicans at every level of the ballot, even those running in gerrymandered districts and drastically outspending their Democratic challengers,” Daily Kos Political Editor Carolyn Fiddler, an expert in state legislative elections, said in a statement. “The reckoning has arrived, and no one is safe.”

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