ESSENTIAL #1: “TRUMP’S ‘STUNNING’ ABOUT-FACE ON SYRIA” LARA SELIGMAN AND MICHAEL HIRSH, FOREIGN POLICY
From the article: “In an unexpected decision that blindsided his own senior officials and signaled a concession to Turkey, U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested he is preparing to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, a move that experts said will seriously undermine America’s already weak hand in the war-torn nation.
For Trump, it was the latest instance of conducting policy by tweet without forewarning, and it came even as key officials such as Syria special envoy James Jeffrey were signaling that U.S. policy was to stay in the country. Only the day before, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters that U.S. forces were there ‘to ensure the enduring defeat of [the Islamic State]. We’ve made significant progress recently in the campaign, but the job is not yet done.’”
ESSENTIAL #2: “WITH 2020 DEMOCRATS WAITING IN THE WINGS, TRUMP’S LATEST MOVES GO BEYOND HIS BASE” JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS
From the article: “On gun control, criminal justice reform and now Syria, President Donald Trump is advancing policies this week that could appeal to voters far outside his much-talked-about political base.
The moves come after his Republican Party was handed a stultifying defeat at the ballot box in last month’s midterms and as his 2020 re-election campaign is coming into focus.”
ESSENTIAL #3: “SENATE VOTES TO MAKE LYNCHING A FEDERAL CRIME” THE WEEK
From the article: “Senators on Wednesday unanimously voted to approve a bill making lynching a federal crime.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said the Senate had previously failed nearly 200 times to make lynching a ‘federal civil rights crime.’ The bill, if approved by the House and signed by President Trump, would make lynching punishable by life in prison, reports The Washington Times.
‘This is a very meaningful moment for this body,’ said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). ‘Even though it cannot reverse irrevocable harm that lynching was used as a terror of suppression, the passage of this bill is a recognition of that dark past.’ Senators reportedly said that more than 4,700 people were lynched in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968, most of them black, and most perpetrators left unpunished. Harris, Booker, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the bill.”
ESSENTIAL #4: “SENATE PASSES GOVERNMENT FUNDING STOPGAP, PUNTS ON LANDS ISSUE” NIELS LESNIEWSKI, ROLL CALL
From the article: “After a back-and forth that ran well into the night, senators came together eventually to pass a stopgap spending bill that will run through February 8 and avert a partial government shutdown, sending it over the House for consideration.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to caution senators against assuming they were done for the the holidays, maybe out of an abundance of caution before the House votes to send the package to President Donald Trump. A continuing resolution funding several nine Cabinet departments, including Homeland Security and the Justice Department, expires at midnight Friday. ”