The Hill's 12:30 Report — Senate GOP to move short-term funding bill | Judge strikes down much of Trump asylum policy | Trump makes plans to leave Syria

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate GOP to move short-term bill to avoid shutdown | Bill would offer funding through Feb. 8 | Judge strikes down much of Trump asylum policy | Trump gets win on criminal justice reform | Ryan to deliver farewell address | Trump preparing to withdraw troops from Syria | Claims US has defeated ISIS | New Facebook data controversy | NASA engineer leaves glitter bomb for thieves



Caption: McConnell: 'I'm not making eye contact because I don't want to jinx anything, but…" 



February is the new December:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems to present case on abuse of power on trial's third day The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' MORE (R-Ky.) said he will move a short-term spending bill to fund the government through Feb. 8. What next: The bill will have to be passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE by midnight Friday.


What sparked this plot twist: 

President Trump had a swift reversal yesterday and dropped his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding.

Why this is huge: That demand has been the sticking point that was expected to cause a partial government shutdown Friday night. 

But now that Trump backed down: It paves the way for lawmakers to come to an agreement and keep the government open through the holidays.

But it's bad news bears for Trump's border wall: Democrats take over the House in January, so the chances of President Trump getting funding for his border wall seem slim. 


It's Wednesday -- you've got this. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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It's like having your birthday on the day of a major exam or meeting. You're acutely aware, but no one else is:

Via The Hill's Scott Wong, while lawmakers are working to avert a government shutdown right before Christmas, retiring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders for 'inability to actually fight with bad actors' in party Biden fires back at Sanders on Social Security Warren now also knocking Biden on Social Security MORE (R-Wis.) is doing an elaborate farewell tour before he hands in the gavel at the end of the year.

How Ryan is honoring his legacy: A flattering six-part video series on his legislative achievements, namely tax reform.

And at 1 p.m. EST today: Ryan will deliver a farewell address at the ornate Great Hall of the Library of Congress. Livestream:

Why this is noteworthy: Ryan's predecessor, former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats MORE (R-Ohio) left with little fanfare. There was no six-part video series and his farewell address was on the House floor, not in the Library of Congress. 

One House GOP lawmaker's reasoning -- *snaps in a Z-formation*: "BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats MORE ain't running for POTUS in six years."

This is even more of a reason to think Ryan could run in the future: "Ryan has repeatedly said he has no plans to run for president. In fact, after he hands over the Speaker's gavel, the only government job he said he'd want is to be ambassador to Ireland, from where some of his ancestors emigrated."

RYAN REFLECTED ON WHAT HE COULDN'T ACHIEVE: Via The Associated Press's Alan Fram, "Ryan, 48, acknowledges he never achieved two longtime policy dreams -- reining spending by the government's huge entitlement programs and controlling the enormous and growing national debt." In Ryan's words: "I acknowledge plainly that my ambitions for entitlement reform have outpaced the political reality and I consider this our greatest unfinished business." And Ryan on health care: "Ultimately, solving this problem will require a greater degree of political will than exists today. I regret that."


What Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDOJ releases new tranche of Mueller witness documents Jared Kushner's sister-in-law Karlie Kloss says she will vote against Trump in 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate receives impeachment articles as trial opens MORE and Kim Kardashian have in common:

They both see last night as a big win. On Tuesday night, the Senate passed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill aimed at sentencing laws and adjusting mandatory minimum prison sentences. The vote: 87-12. Next up: The bill will head to the House for a vote. House lawmakers return to Washington today, and a vote could happen as soon as Thursday.



Trump says ISIS no mo':
Via The New York Times's Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler, "President Trump is considering pulling 2,000 United States ground troops out of Syria in a move that would seek to describe the four-year American-led war against the Islamic State as largely won, officials said Wednesday."

THIS MORNING, TRUMP TWEETED: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."

THIS IS PRETTY INTERESTING -- HOW VARIOUS OUTLETS ARE COVERING THE SYRIA NEWS: "WSJ: the U.S. military is preparing to withdraw its forces from NE Syria 

CNN: planning underway for 'full' and 'rapid' withdrawal of US troops 

Reuters: Trump considering withdrawing U.S. troops"


Attention federal employees -- no work on Monday:

President Trump signed an executive order giving federal employees the day off on Christmas Eve.


This morning -- Trump reacts to the closure of the Donald J. Trump Foundation:

"President Trump on Wednesday complained that he was the victim of a 'total double standard' of justice after a lawsuit in New York state against the Donald J. Trump Foundation led to the charity's closure." 

The first tweet in the series: "The Trump Foundation has done great work and given away lots of money, both mine and others, to great charities over the years -- with me taking NO fees, rent, salaries etc. Now, as usual, I am getting slammed by Cuomo and the Dems in a long running civil lawsuit started by." Read the full tweets:



Facebook did ~what~ now?!:

The New York Times's Gabriel J.X. Dance, Michael LaForgia and Nicholas Confessore published a major investigation into Facebook allowing technology companies to view more of its users' personal data than it has disclosed. It's worth reading:


Netflix and Spotify: Facebook "gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users' private messages." (!)

Yahoo: Facebook "let Yahoo view streams of friends' posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier." 

Microsoft's Bing: "Facebook allowed Microsoft's Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent."

Amazon: Facebook let Amazon "obtain users' names and contact information through their friends."


  1. Facebook deals in data
  2. Facebook's largest partners got far more access than Cambridge Analytica did
  3. Facebook never directly told users that it was sharing this data
  4. Facebook was sloppy
  5. Regulators let it happen

Context and details for each



Just now -- news on Sessions's asylum policy: 

"A federal judge [just] struck down most of the policies former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Trump-aligned group launches ad campaign hitting Doug Jones on impeachment ICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report MORE issued that made it almost impossible for victims of domestic and gang violence to seek asylum. He also ordered the government to return to the United States the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported under the policy."


New report -- 53 journalists killed in 2018:

At least 53 journalists have been killed worldwide in 2018, according to a new report from the Committee to Project Journalists. Of the 53: 34 journalists were killed in retaliation for their work -- that almost doubles 2017's count of 18. Oh and: 62 percent of the killed journalists were covering politics.


Spotted -- who doesn't love shuffleboard and cheap beer??:

The president's younger daughter, Tiffany Trump, was seen at Rocket Bar in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. last night playing shuffleboard. (Via Washingtonian's Brittany Shepherd



Happening on Capitol Hill: 




10:30 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence received a briefing on space and cyber defense.

11:25 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence met with Department of Defense employees at the Pentagon.

Noon: President Trump received an intelligence briefing.

Noon: The House is back from a nearly weeklong recess. 

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Overnight Defense: Trump downplays troops' concussion injuries in Iran attack | Dems offer case against Trump on day two of trial | UN links Saudis to hack of Bezos' phone Pompeo willing to testify in impeachment trial if 'legally required' MORE.

1 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence attends the Senate Steering Committee Lunch on Capitol Hill.

5:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE attend Christmas receptions at the White House.

6:30 p.m. EST: Votes in the House. The House's full schedule today:

Dec. 21: Congress's deadline to fund the government before a partial government shutdown. 

Dec. 21–Jan. 6: President Trump will spend the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

March 6: When President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen has to surrender for his prison sentence.



1 p.m. EST: Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) gives his farewell address at the Library of Congress. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EST: The Federal Reserve's Jerome Powell is expected to announce the Fed's latest rate hike for the year. Livestream



Today is National Hard Candy Day.


Revenge is best served ... well, glittery:

A former NASA engineer has developed an exploding glitter bomb to get revenge on thieves stealing packages from his front porch. Watch:


And because it's almost Christmas, here's a dog who is really making sure he and the cat get a quality holiday card photo: