In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Funding for the government expires at the end of next week, and Republicans are crafting a plan that would fund the military for a full year while only giving the rest of the government a short-term stop-gap until Jan. 19.

As the outline of that spending deal emerges, GOP lawmakers confirmed to TPM that it will include five years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired at the end of September, but will not include two policies to stabilize the health insurance market that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) demanded in exchange for voting to repeal the individual mandate in the Republican tax bill.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said Thursday that he won’t vote for his party’s huge corporate tax cut plan unless GOP leaders increase the size of the child tax credit.

“I want to see the refundable portion of the child tax credit increased from its current number,” Rubio told reporters as he entered the Senate floor. “If it stays at $1,100, I’m a no. Let’s hope it doesn’t.”

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Following reports indicating that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is seriously considering retiring from Congress, a spokeswoman for the speaker said that he is “not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Strong indicated that Brendan Buck, a counselor to Ryan, would have additional comment, but he had not yet weighed in early Thursday afternoon.

Ryan also addressed speculation that he is thinking about retiring on Thursday. Asked as he was leaving his weekly press briefing whether he was quitting any time soon, Ryan replied, “I’m not.”

Two recent reports sparked the speculation.

The Huffington Post reported on Wednesday night that Republicans in Congress have been hearing rumors and speculation that Ryan will step aside soon now that he’s on the cusp of passing tax cuts, a long-held dream of his.

Politico followed up Thursday afternoon reporting that Ryan has told confidants that this will be his final term as speaker and that he’s considering retiring from Congress altogether at the end of this congress. Per Politico:

More recently, over closely held conversations with his kitchen cabinet, Ryan’s preference has become clear: He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress.

After the Politico report dropped, CNN published a report that Ryan has been “soul searching” about his future with close friends, and that those friends think it’s possible Ryan could leave Congress after the 2018 election.

Asked about the reports that Ryan is considering retirement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday afternoon that Trump spoke with Ryan recently and that the speaker assured him that the reports were not accurate.

“The President did speak to the speaker not too long ago, and made sure that the speaker knew very clearly, in no uncertain terms, that if that news was true he was very unhappy with it. The speaker has assured the President that those were not accurate reports, and they look forward to working together for a long time to come,” Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing.

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The first full Obamacare open enrollment period of the Trump administration ends Friday, and experts expect signups on healthcare.gov to surge right before the deadline. Should that surge overwhelm the federal website, it’s an open question whether the Department of Health and Human Services will extend the deadline, offering a grace period for people who tried to sign up and were unable to do so.

On Wednesday afternoon, the top Democrats on the House and Senate committees that deal with health care sent a letter to HHS demanding to know what the agency plans to do for those stuck “in line” trying to sign up for health insurance when the clock strikes midnight on Friday.

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On Wednesday the House and Senate hold the first public conference committee meeting to iron out significant differences on the GOP tax bills — though Republican lawmakers and their staffs have already been negotiating behind closed doors for several days. Just before going into the conference, lawmakers announced they had tentatively struck a deal on changes to the bill that will further benefit the highest earning Americans, including a reduction in the top income tax bracket from 39.6 to 37 percent. 

They reportedly plan pay for this change and others by ticking up the new corporate tax rate from 20 to 21 percent—which remains a major reduction from the current 35 percent rate.

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In the wake of a stunning upset victory Tuesday night by Democrat Doug Jones in deep-red Alabama, Senate Democrats are demanding that Republicans “hit pause” on their fast-track tax bill—delaying a vote until Jones is sworn in so that the voters of Alabama are fully represented.

“It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the duly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)  told reporters Wednesday morning.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore ain’t done yet.

An obstinate Moore refused to concede defeat to Democrat Doug Jones even though he trailed Jones by a not-that-close 49.9 percent to 48.4 percent, insisting there was a possibility of a recount.

“Realize that when the vote is this close it is not over. We’ve still got to go by the rules and by this recount provision,” he declared around 10:30 p.m. CT Tuesday evening, more than an hour after the race had been called by the Associated Press and most TV networks – an after Jones had given his victory speech.

“We also know that God is always in control. The problem with this campaign is we’ve been painted with an unfavorable and unfaithful light. We’ve been put in a hole, if you will,” he continued. “That’s what we’ve got to do – wait on God and let this process play out. … Let’s go home and sleep on it.”

Alabama has a law for an automatic recount if the race’s margin is within 0.5 percent, paid for by the state. If the margin is wider, then a candidate can ask for (and pay for) a recount. But Jones led by more than 21,000 votes — a gaping chasm in the world of recount elections.

Moore’s campaign insisted Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill had indicated that a recount could happen, and told reporters to head to his office for an explanation of the rules.

Merrill, a staunch conservative who’d stuck by Moore’s campaign, said Moore could get a recount if he paid for it. But he threw cold water on Moore’s plans, telling CNN he “would find it highly unlikely” that Jones won’t be Alabama’s next senator.

Alabama Republicans made it clear that Moore is on his own in his quixotic quest.

“While we are deeply disappointed in the extremely close U.S. Senate election results, with our candidate Judge Roy Moore, we respect the voting process given to us by our Founding Fathers,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said in a statement. “Now that this race has ended, may this holiday season of peace, love and hope resonate with everyone, regardless of one’s political affiliation.”

Even some of Moore’s closest allies weren’t optimistic.

John Eidsmoe, a friend and ally for decades who works for Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law, told TPM that it could be “days” for a final count — but was shocked when TPM told him that Jones trailed by more than 20,000 votes. When asked how confident he was that Moore could win, he said “not very.”

Moore, a firebrand social conservative, blew a race few thought a Democrat could win, largely because nine women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. He remained willfully defiant throughout the campaign, denying all accusations. And after a career of obstinate refusal and intransigent fights with everyone who told him no, he looks like he’s going to go down kicking and screaming.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Democrat Doug Jones will be Alabama’s next senator after one of the wildest races in recent memory, giving Democrats a crucial seat in the chamber and opening a real if narrow path to retaking Senate control next year.

Jones lead accused child molester and GOP nominee Roy Moore by 49.6 percent to 48.8 percent with 89 percent of precincts reporting, according to the New York Times returns. The Associated Press has called the race, as have several TV networks.

Jones’s improbable victory was made possible when multiple women came forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct towards them when they were teenagers. Those allegations plunged the race into chaos and gave his party a rare chance at seriously contesting a race in deep red Alabama, where no Democrat has won a major statewide office since 2006.

His win narrows Republicans’ edge in the Senate to 51-49, leaving even less room for error on legislation and giving Democrats a real chance at winning back control of the chamber next year in spite of a brutal map where they’re mostly on defense.

Democrats now just need to hold serve in the 10 states that Trump won where they’re defending incumbents, and pick up swing-state Nevada and Arizona, to win back control. That appears doable if tough in the current political environment.

The result is likely to further inflame tensions between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump. McConnell disavowed Moore’s campaign, called for him to drop out and refused to spend to help him after the allegations surfaced, while Trump rode to his rescue with rallies and money from the Republican National Committee after refusing to help push him out of the race. Both will likely blame the other for the disastrous result, further fueling fights within the party that will play out in a number of Senate primaries.

It’s also a blow to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who threw his support hard behind Moore in the primary and stuck by him through the race. Bannon has promised support to a rash of populist firebrands in GOP primaries, but it might be harder to convince voters to back his candidates after the debacle in Alabama, where he was one of Moore’s most visible supporters.

The infighting between the factions began even before final results were in — and escalated as soon as the race was called for Jones.

“This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running,” Steven Law, the head of the pro-McConnell Senate Leadership Fund, said in a statement immediately after the AP called the race. “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner (R-CO) was direct, saying Alabama voters “deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve” before calling on Jones to vote with the GOP.

Trump himself was gracious in his loss.

But some of his supporters weren’t happy.

“I hate the fact that Doug Jones ran a gutter-style campaign instead of addressing the issues. This man hasn’t been charged with anything, he’s always been a man of faith,” Trump Alabama state chairman Perry Hooper, who was at the Moore election event, told TPM.

Hooper then turned on Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the most prominent Alabama Republican who publicly refused to back Moore.

“It’s upsetting being a Trump guy, it’s a setback to Alabama… and there’s a lot of people upset with Sen. Shelby, I’ll tell you that,” he said.

Democrats were jubilant — starting with Jones.

“We have shown the country the way that we can be unified. … At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect,” Jones said to a jubilant crowd in Birmingham. “This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency, and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life.”

But even after the race was clearly over, Moore’s campaign wasn’t ready to concede defeat.

“Some people have called the race. We’re not calling it yet. … And it could be a while,” Moore adviser Rich Hobson said at 9:40 p.m. central time before asking supporters to pray.

Jones is a relatively liberal Democrat who’s likely to stand with his party on most issues for the next few years. He’s pro-choice, believes in climate change and holds progressive views on civil rights, LGBT rights and immigration.

He’s also been critical of the GOP tax bill, putting additional pressure on Republicans to pass the legislation before the end of the year, when he’ll replace appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in Congress. Strange was appointed to the seat when President Trump picked Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice, and lost to Moore in the primary in spite of huge spending by McConnell and his allies.

Jones is a former U.S. attorney who is best known in Alabama for successfully reopening a decades-old case and prosecuting the Ku Klux Klansmen who bombed a Birmingham church in 1963, killing four little girls.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Tensions have started to build underneath the sounds of smooth jazz at Roy Moore’s election night party as updated results have Democrat Doug Jones closing in on Moore.

Moore was clinging to a narrow lead of 49.5 percent to 49 percent lead — less than 5,000 votes —shortly after 9 p.m. CT on Tuesday — when a jazz saxophonist wrapped up his cover of Carlos Santana’s “Smooth” and a few other gems and was met with nervous silence from the audience. Moore’s lead in the raw vote count had been shrinking all evening. County-by-county results indicated a nail-biter of a race — and the more urban, more Democratic counties had more of the outstanding vote.

“We’re hanging on, 81% of the vote, we need some more,” a Moore surrogate who’d been keeping the crowd warm all night said as a once-raucous crowd tittered nervously.

“Call it!” someone in the crowd yelled a few minutes later after a family band came onstage to sing “America the Beautiful.”

“I want to call it,” he joked back.

But the once-excited crowd’s happy chatter had dimmed to a dull murmur. And at 9:15 p.m. CT, the crowd fell silent as Jones pulled ahead, with the sad sounds of “Amazing Grace” playing in the background.

Black turnout has been higher than most experts expected — and significantly higher than white turnout in some crucial counties. That’s helped Jones claw his way into a virtual tie.

The race appears headed for a photo finish, with even expert prognosticators unclear who will win.

For those watching at home, under Alabama law any election narrower than 0.5 percent of the vote triggers an automatic recount. Get your popcorn.

If y’all continue to keep the faith,” the Moore surrogate told the crowd, “we’re going to get this thing.”

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