Unfinished Trump business dominates end-of-year sprint: The Note
Virtually every day of the week before Christmas brings decisions for Democrats.
The TAKE with Rick Klein
The waning days of united Democratic control of Washington will be filled with memories of the last time they weren't in that position.
It may also have significant consequences for what comes next. Virtually every day of the final week before Christmas brings decision points for Democrats on how to handle circumstances put into motion by former President Donald Trump.
Monday brings the final hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee, followed by a final written report. The committee is expected to make the fateful decision of formally referring to the Department of Justice charges against individuals including the former president himself, ABC's Katherine Faulders reports.
Tuesday brings a House Ways and Means Committee that's expected to bring a vote on releasing Trump's tax returns. That would close a long chapter of public debate by opening a new one -- and setting a precedent just ahead of the GOP takeover of the House.
Wednesday brings the scheduled expiration of Title 42 being applied to migrant arrivals. The Trump-era policy has stayed in place for the first 23 months of the Biden administration -- and its unwinding could bring new crises at an already strained southern border.
Trump himself looks like less of a force than he has in years inside the Republican Party, despite his decision to announce another presidential run just a week after the midterms.
But in tangible and relevant ways, the Trump era never really ended. That will remain the case through the rest of the year and most likely well beyond.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
Leaders in Texas are bracing for a surge of migrants at the southern border as the Trump-era policy that allowed asylum-seekers to be turned away amid COVID-19 is expected to lift in the coming days.
"If the courts do not intervene and put a halt to the removal of Title 42, it's gonna be total chaos," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told ABC's "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday.
Title 42 has allowed the government to cite public health, more specifically the pandemic, as a reason to remove migrants who present themselves at the border without hearing their asylum claims. Despite a push from a group of Republican-led states, including Texas, a federal appeals court judge denied efforts to continue the policy. That means the policy will end Wednesday unless the Supreme Court intervenes.
El Paso, Texas, Mayor Oscar Leeser has issued an emergency declaration ahead of Title 42's end, which he said will allow the city greater flexibility to care for migrants who arrive in their border community.
The White House has pushed back on claims from the right, including Abbott, that the administration supports "open borders." Instead, these officials say, immigration laws will be enforced while the administration aims to "expand legal pathways for migration while discouraging disorderly and unsafe migration."
"To be clear: the lifting of the Title 42 public health order does not mean the border is open," White House assistant press secretary Abdullah Hasan said in a statement. "Anyone who suggests otherwise is doing the work of smugglers spreading misinformation to make a quick buck off of vulnerable migrants."
Presidents of both parties have struggled to address the southern border and Congress has for years failed to pass comprehensive immigration reforms. Prospects for getting substantive immigration policy in a bitterly divided Congress next year are slim, too.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
Sen. Joe Manchin left the door open to potentially becoming an independent and plans to evaluate how each of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act "plays out" before making a decision about his party affiliation.
"If people are trying to stop something from doing so much good because of the politics, thinking that somebody else will get credit for it, let's see how that plays out, and then I will let you know later what I decide to do. But, right now, I have no intentions of changing anything, except working for West Virginians, trying to give them more opportunities, better quality of life and basically making sure our country is energy-secured," Manchin said in an interview with CBS News on Sunday.
The West Virginia lawmaker added that being affiliated with the Democratic Party "does not saddle me to everything the Democrats want to do is what's right."
"I don't think the Democrats have all the answers. I don't think the Republicans are always wrong, and vice versa," he said.
Manchin expressed a similar stance last week on the heels of Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema's decision to become an independent. Both moderates are up for reelection in 2024 when Democrats are likely looking at a narrow path to keeping the majority in the upper chamber given how many states they are defending that are Republican-friendly.
The competitive Senate map -- as well as West Virginia's strong Republican voter base -- could provide an opportunity for more than partisan scrutiny given that Manchin could also lean into exploring possible presidential considerations.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Start Here" begins Monday morning with ABC's Katherine Faulders as the House Jan. 6 committee wraps up its investigation. Then, The Washington's Post's Taylor Lorenz explains her perspective after she was banned from Twitter. And, protests grow more violent in the aftermath of the failed coup in Peru. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- The House Jan. 6 committee holds a meeting at 1 p.m. ET.
- President Joe Biden will return to Washington from Wilmington, Delaware, in the morning and then will welcome President Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador to the White House. Among the topics to discuss, according to the White House: the war in Ukraine and Ecuador's leadership on regional migration.
- The president and first lady Jill Biden will end the day hosting a Hanukkah reception at 7 p.m. ET.
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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Tuesday for the latest.