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Democrats’ offer on border wall funding not apt to please Trump

Democratic leaders plan to offer President Trump $1.3 billion for a border fence when they meet Tuesday at the White House, far short of the $5 billion Trump is demanding for a border wall.

Democrats, Republicans, and the White House have until Dec. 21 to reach a budget deal if they are to avert a partial government shutdown, but talks are deadlocked over funding a wall.

Democrats and Trump are, if anything, moving further apart.

Senate minority leader Charles Schumer had suggested that Trump accept $1.6 billion, the funding level in a Senate bill with bipartisan support. But that would struggle to pass the House, where Democrats say it’s too much and Republicans say it’s not enough.


If no deal is reached by the end of next week, funding will run out for the Homeland Security Department and other agencies making up about 25 percent of the government. They are operating on a short-term spending bill Congress passed last week to move the shutdown deadline.

Tuesday’s meeting will be the first gathering of Trump, Schumer, and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi ahead of the deadline.

Washington Post

US starts to pull troops back from Mexican border

The Pentagon this week will begin withdrawing many of the troops sent to the border with Mexico by President Trump before the midterm election in response to a caravan of Central American migrants, officials said Monday.

About 2,200 will be pulled out soon, the officials said, shrinking an unusual domestic deployment that was viewed by critics as a political stunt and a waste of resources.

That will leave about 3,000 active-duty troops in Arizona, California, and Texas, mainly military police and helicopter transport crews who assist Border Patrol agents. There will still be 2,300 members of the National Guard who were deployed separately, starting in April.

The active-duty troops were initially scheduled to stay until Saturday. Last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis extended the mission to Jan. 31 at the request of the Department of Homeland Security. It was unclear if it will be extended again.


A report to Congress estimated the costs at $72 million for the active-duty troops and $138 million so far for the National Guard forces.

Associated Press

Pelosi working toward an agreement with her critics

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is in advanced negotiations with critics inside her party about an agreement that could clear the way for her to be elected speaker next month.

Despite presiding over a 40-seat midterm pickup last month, Pelosi, a California Democrat, has been dogged by internal opposition from a handful of party lawmakers and incoming freshmen who have long agitated for new leadership.

Pelosi, 78, has served 16 years as the highest-ranking House Democrat, including four years as speaker, from 2007 to 2011. But she has given no sign that she is willing to step aside and has spent the past month calling on an extensive political network inside and outside the Capitol to help her regain the gavel.

That has put intense pressure on the holdouts, who have spent the past two weeks in on-and-off talks about how to pave the way for an eventual leadership transition while allowing Pelosi to reclaim the speaker’s gavel in January.

The talks were confirmed by three Democrats familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to discuss them ahead of a final agreement. Two of the Democrats said that, while progress has been made, no deal is imminent.


‘‘A few steps forward, a few steps back,’’ one person said in describing the talks.

Pelosi declined to comment. Politico first reported on the talks Monday.

The negotiations surround the prospect of term limits for both committee chairmen — something Pelosi and other Democrats have debated — as well as term limits for party leaders themselves, the Democrats said. Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, a leader of the critics’ group, has been shuttling proposals back and forth between Pelosi and the larger group.


Trump says payments to silence women not illegal

President Trump asserted Monday that payments to buy the silence of two women about alleged affairs were not illegal campaign contributions, as federal prosecutors contend, but instead a ‘‘simple private transaction.’’

In tweets, he sought to counter assertions in a court filing that he directed his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to try to silence the women in a bid to influence the 2016 election. Cohen has pleaded guilty, saying that he acted at Trump’s direction.

In tweets, Trump suggested the payments were being scrutinized only because prosecutors have not been able to find evidence of collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia. He also appeared to suggest that prosecutors are taking their cues from Democrats.

‘‘So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not,’’ Trump wrote.

He further asserted that even if the payments could be considered campaign contributions, he should be facing a civil case rather than a criminal case.


And, he said, Cohen should be held responsible, not him.

‘‘Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,’’ Trump wrote. ‘‘Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!’’

Prosecutors argue that because Cohen was an agent of the Trump campaign, the payments were campaign contributions in excess of federal limits and not unrelated expenditures.

Washington Post