In it, but not of it. TPM DC

On Monday night, moments after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to end the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) quietly put forward the nomination of former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. While his confirmation is likely to sail through the Senate on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers and women’s health advocates are sounding the alarm about Azar’s statements on reproductive rights, religious rights, and the intersection of the two.

Amid the chaos of the shutdown, both the secretary’s confirmation and several other Trump administration actions related to women’s health have flown under the radar. With the Department’s move to draft rules protecting doctors who want to refuse to perform abortions, sterilizations, or assisted suicides, and the placement of hardline conservative activists in key health policy positions, some lawmakers worry the Department under Azar will “undermine years of progress” on reproductive rights.

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A bill to the end the government shutdown and fund the government through Feb. 8 passed swiftly in the House Monday, 266-150. Having passed the Senate earlier Monday afternoon, the legislation now heads to President Trump’s desk.

The House had last week, on mostly party lines, passed legislation to fund the government for four weeks. However, that bill was stalled by a filibuster by Senate Democrats and a few Senate Republicans early Saturday morning, prompting the three-day government shutdown that will end Monday.

The Senate agreed to reopen government Monday after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered to allow a vote on Senate legislation to address the so-called “DREAMers” — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — if there is not a broader immigration deal between the House and the White House.

Many House Democrats were frustrated that Senate Democrats folded on their filibuster, one of the few places that Democrats have any leverage when Republicans control both chambers and the White House.

Furthermore, House Republicans have made clear that they will not feel obligated to take up any potential bipartisan deal that comes out of the Senate.

“Republicans stayed consistent in our message: we said we would not negotiate resolving the DACA crisis in a shutdown and we’re glad the Democrats came around,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), who chairs the influential Republican Study Committee, told TPM has he headed into the vote.

Alice Ollstein contributed reporting

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The Senate voted 81-18 to reopen the government, sending a bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8 to the House for final passage before it makes it to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

The vote was a foregone conclusion after the legislation made it easily through a 60-vote-threshold procedural vote in the Senate earlier Monday afternoon. There was a slight delay in the final passage vote as a technical issue — having to do with backpay for the furloughed workers during the three-day shutdown — was addressed.

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The Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday afternoon on a procedural step toward reopening the government for just three weeks—based on a promise from Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to hold a vote on an immigration bill. Once the Senate holds an all-but-certain vote on final passage of the temporary spending measure, the ball will be in the House’s court.

But while many Senate Democrats touted the progress made in their chamber and celebrated the government soon being “open for business again,” many House Democrats were furious, accusing their Senate counterparts of “caving” under pressure and noting that there are no assurances any immigration bill that makes it out of the Senate will even be considered by the lower chamber.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared Monday afternoon that she would oppose the package and urge her caucus to do the same.

“I don’t see that there’s any reason—I’m speaking personally and hearing from my members—to support what was put forth,” she said. “I don’t know what will come of it. But when it comes over here I know that there are a large number of our members who will not support it.”

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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 11:58 a.m. EST.

Senate Democrats are on the brink of accepting a deal to end the government shutdown in exchange for the promise of a vote on the DREAM Act in the coming weeks, three sources tell TPM.

The details of the deal aren’t yet clear. But multiple Democratic sources familiar with an ongoing meeting of Senate Democrats on the Hill made it clear that an agreement to reopen the government for a few weeks was all but certain late Monday morning.

“There’s a deal and the vote will likely have room to spare above 60,” one source familiar with the Senate Democrats’ meeting told TPM.

Another Democrat familiar with the meeting confirmed the deal, while a third said that while there wasn’t a “done deal yet” there was an “outline” of a deal that would likely pass when the Senate takes it up on Monday.

That deal is expected to get strong support from Democrats — including fierce immigration advocates like Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the leading Senate advocate for so-called “DREAMers” whose vote would provide cover for other Democrats to support an agreement.

Most Democrats stonewalled reporters as they exited the meeting, unwilling to talk. But Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), one of the few who’d bucked his party with a vote to keep the government open last Friday night, said he thinks the shutdown will end Monday.

“It was very positive. I think the government will be back open by 12:10 or 12:15,” he said of the meeting.

It won’t be quite that quick — the House still needs to vote on it, assuming the Senate passes the measure set to hit the floor, and President Trump will need to sign it. But it appears likely that at least for the short term, the government will reopen on Monday.

Immigration advocates spent the morning rallying Democrats against the compromise deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — and they weren’t happy when TPM told them the news during a late morning conference call. There is likely to be strong blowback from the base if the deal does go through, as appears almost certain.

“If there’s a deal obviously there’s a lot of concern about what the nature of the deal will be and whether there’s empty promises from Mitch McConnell… or whether there’s something that’s actually meaningful,” America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry told TPM in response to the news.

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

The deal will likely set up another shutdown showdown in early February.

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As the scramble to end the government shutdown dragged into the work week Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged senators in both parties to vote to fund the government until Feb. 8, and accept a loose promise from him to bring a bill to the floor that would address the status of the 700,000 young immigrants whose protections President Trump revoked last year, even if they don’t have an agreement with the White House or the House.

But, citing McConnell’s promises last year for votes on health care and immigration that were never honored, lawmakers in both parties say McConnell needs to offer something more concrete.

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President Donald Trump over the weekend largely stayed out of negotiations to reopen the federal government, tasking Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress with reaching a deal.

Trump left the negotiations to Congress at the direction of his advisers, who argued that Democrats were to blame for the shutdown and therefore Democrats needed to come around on an agreement to open the government, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. The President did speak with Republican leaders over the phone to strategize, the New York Times reported, but he mostly refrained from weighing in on the negotiations publicly, save for a few tweets blaming Democrats for the shutdown.

Instead of inserting himself into the negotiations, Trump spent much of the weekend glued to his television. On Saturday, he watched old clips of him criticizing President Barack Obama during the 2013 shutdown, a White House aide told the New York Times. Throughout the weekend Trump watched the cable news coverage of the shutdown and offered critiques to his aides who went on television to blame Democrats for the shutdown, according to the Washington Post.

Indeed, Trump tweeted praise for Fox News on Sunday night, presumably while watching his favorite cable news network.

On Sunday, Trump did not leave his private residence on the third floor of the White House, according to CNN. From there, he called some Republican leaders in Congress, urging them to reach a deal with Democrats to open the government, per CNN.

Though he ultimately kept a low profile, Trump told aides that he was concerned he would be blamed for the shutdown and wondered if he should be working to end it, per the Washington Post. In an attempt to show that he was working hard during the shutdown, the President posed for a photo of him on the phone in the Oval Office on Satueday, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) revealed over the weekend that, in a failed attempt to stave off a government shutdown, he met the President’s asking price on funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for restoring the protections that Trump rescinded last year for roughly 700,000 young immigrants.

“The President picked a number and I accepted it,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. Noting that he still believes a wall is “expensive and a waste of money,” Schumer added that he made the “most generous offer” because it was “the last, best chance to avoid a shutdown.”

“All along the President is saying, ‘Well, I will do DACA and DREAMers in return for the wall,” he said. “He’s got it.” 

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