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Washington edges closer to a government shutdown

by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann /  / Updated 
Image: Capital Hill
The Capital is mirrored in the Capital Reflecting Pool on Capitol Hill on Oct. 1, 2013 in Washington.J. David Ake / AP file

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WASHINGTON — We’ve been here before — Congress and the Trump White House facing a potential government shutdown — and each time the major players have backed away from the brink. But this time feels different, with the government's funding expiring on Saturday. Consider:

  • Democrats, as well as former Homeland Security secretaries, believe that Congress must pass a deal on DACA by this month in order to begin processing applications before the Trump administration’s self-imposed March 5 end date for the program. So they want a resolution now, not in March.
  • The aftermath of President Trump’s “shithole” remark — or was it “shithouse”? — has derailed hopes of striking a DACA deal. “Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military,” Trump tweeted yesterday.
  • There’s new reporting from the Washington Post suggesting there are forces inside the Trump White House that don’t want a bipartisan DACA deal. “[S]ome White House officials, including conservative adviser Stephen Miller, feared that Graham and Durbin would try to trick Trump into signing a bill that was damaging to him and would hurt him with his political base,” the paper writes. “As word trickled out Thursday morning on Capitol Hill that Durbin and Graham were heading over to the White House, legislative affairs director Marc Short began to make calls to lawmakers and shared many of Miller’s concerns.”
  • And there’s uncertainty if House Republicans can find the 218 votes needed to pass any stopgap funding measure simply to extend government spending beyond Saturday, NBC’s Kasie Hunt notes. Ditto if Senate Republicans can find 60 votes. Bottom line: Republicans will need Democratic votes.

As NBC’s Frank Thorp puts it, a government shutdown definitely feels more possible than it felt back in December.

And maybe the biggest casualty here is the breakdown in trust — between Trump and Durbin over the immigration profanity heard ‘round the world; between Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue (who denied Trump said the profanity) and everyone else who was in the room; and between Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly and Stephen Miller, who believed Trump could be tricked on DACA.

Without trust, you’re not going to get a deal.

A timeline of how we got here

Here’s a timeline of the standoff over DACA:

Sept. 5: Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds DACA

"I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama Administration is being rescinded... The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens."

Sept. 5: Trump: Congress can still save DACA before it expires on March 5

"Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!" Trump tweets.

Sept. 7-8: Congress passes stopgap funding measure to keep the government open through December

Sept. 13: Pelosi and Schumer say they reached a DACA deal with Trump

“Democratic leaders on Wednesday night declared that they had a deal with President Trump to quickly extend protections for young undocumented immigrants and to finalize a border security package that does not include the president’s proposed wall,” the New York Times wrote.

Sept. 14: Trump says there’s no deal — he needs 'massive border security' to agree to DACA

"No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote… The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built," Trump tweets.

Sept. 14: Trump: 'Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people?'

"Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!" Trump tweets.

Fall of 2017: Many Democrats, especially those from blue states, say they want to use the government funding deal to resolve DACA

Dec. 21: Congress passes stopgap bill, funding the federal government through Jan. 19

“Congress passed a stopgap spending bill Thursday, averting a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday but pushing into January showdowns on spending, immigration, health care and national security,” per the Washington Post.

Dec. 29: There's no DACA without wall funding and an end to chained migration, Trump says

"The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!" Trump tweets.

Dec. 29: Trump tweets: 'Democrats are doing nothing for DACA'

"Democrats are doing nothing for DACA - just interested in politics. DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start "falling in love" with Republicans and their President! We are about RESULTS"

Jan. 9: Trump holds a bipartisan meeting at the White House, leaving the details of any DACA deal up to Congress

“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump says. “I am very much reliant on the people in this room. I know most of the people on both sides. I have a lot of respect for the people on both sides. And my — what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with.”

Jan. 11: Bipartisan group of senators announces they reached a deal on DACA

The deal, per NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell, allows DREAMers to become U.S. citizens; prevents "chained migration" by denying citizenship for their parents; eliminates the diversity lottery; and allocates $1.6 billion for additional border security including fencing.

Jan. 11: Trump makes his 'shithole' remark

“Trump told the group he wasn’t interested in the terms of the bipartisan deal that [Democrat Dick] Durbin and [Republican Lindsey] Graham had been putting together. And as he shrugged off suggestions from Durbin and others, the president called nations from Africa ‘shithole countries,’ denigrated Haiti and grew angry,” per the Washington Post.

Jan. 12: Trump rejects Graham-Durbin deal

“The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime,” Trump tweets.

Jan. 15: Trump blames Durbin and Democrats for collapsed DACA talks

“Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military,” Trump tweets.

What will Nielsen say about that immigration profanity when she testifies on Capitol Hill?

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. ET, and Durbin just happens to be a member of that committee.

On CBS this morning, Nielsen said that she didn’t hear that profanity:

Dickerson: Let me ask you about your testimony on Tuesday. Senator Durbin, who was in this Oval Office meeting about which there has been so much discussion, is going to be there. What if he asks you whether you agree with his representation of the meeting?

Nielsen: I have no problem repeating what I've said. I just don't – I don't – that's – I don't – that's not a word that I remember being used. It was very impassioned. People on all sides feel very strongly about this issue, frankly, as well as they should. There were a lot of conversations happening at the same time. It's not a particular phrase that I heard.

House Intel Committee to question Hope Hicks

NBC’s Kristen Welker and Tim Stelloh: “The House Intelligence Committee is expected to question White House Communications Director Hope Hicks as part of its probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 election, a source confirmed to NBC News on Monday. Her appearance, first reported by CNN, could occur as early as this week, the source said, as the committee focuses on people who were part of the inner circle of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.”

Watchdog group: Foreign governments spend big at Trump properties

“Four foreign governments, 16 special interest groups and 35 Republican congressional campaign committees spent money at Trump properties in 2017, according to data compiled by the government watchdog group Public Citizen,” per NBC’s Julia Ainsley and Rich Gardella.

More: “A lawyer for President-elect Donald Trump outlined a plan during the presidential transition that was meant to resolve concerns about conflicts of interest between his presidency and his businesses. But in a report called ‘Presidency for Sale,’ Public Citizen found that Trump properties in Washington, Florida and elsewhere seem to have benefited from Trump's election as groups with something to gain from U.S. policy have paid to stay or dine there more than 60 times.”

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