The Lame Duck Countdown

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama is putting the Ferguson fallout front and center today, using his oft-mentioned "convening power" to jump start national dialogue on policing in minority communities. There will be three separate meetings today, according to ABC's DEVIN DWYER, all inspired by the Ferguson situation: First with his Cabinet; then, a roundtable of young civil rights leaders; and, a group of elected officials, civil rights and faith leaders and law enforcement officials. The theme is trust-building between law enforcement and the communities they serve, according to the White House.
  • ON THE HILL: The House and Senate return today for the final two-week stretch of the lame duck session with a number of items on the to-do list. Lawmakers must strike a deal to fund the government or face the prospect of another government shutdown, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and JOHN PARKINSON note. Other items include tax extenders and a potential debate over whether the president has the authority to fight ISIS. This will also be Republicans' first time back at the Capitol since President Obama announced the executive action on immigration over a week ago - an issue that some worry could tie up government funding.
  • AT THE SUPREME COURT: This morning, the Supreme Court will hear a case regarding violent Facebook messages posted by a man named Anthony Elonis in Pennsylvania. The Court is being asked to determine the scope of the "true threats" exception to the First Amendment. ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE has the backstory: After his wife left him, Elonis took to posting violent passages on Facebook. "Did you know that it's illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife?" he posted in one. He was convicted under a federal threat statue. But Elonis argues he never intended to carry out a threat, and he was expressing himself at times using song lyrics that are similar to the music produced by rap star Eminem. At issue in the case is under what circumstances the government can punish speech as a threat.


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The 10-day countdown is on for Congress to pass another spending bill to keep the government open beyond Dec. 11. It's the first big post-election test for Speaker John Boehner and his Republican leaders, which will set the tone for the new Republican majority on Capitol Hill. For weeks, President Obama and Democrats have been mentioning the prospect of a government shutdown far more than most Republicans - dangling it like a juicy steak in front of a hungry pit bull - but the question is whether Boehner and his team can keep the GOP rank-and-file from taking the bait. The anger over the president's executive order on immigration is still red hot. Republican leaders say the next few days will be an important opportunity to let their members blow off some steam before coming to some kind of a deal. But some Senate Republicans hope they can keep the steam from turning into a full boil, which could start their new majority off on a sour note.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: How's this for a declaration of relevance? Less than a month after suffering an electoral drubbing, President Obama has succeeded in placing the majority of the internal party angst back in the other camp. The president's move on immigration has made that the overriding issue as Republicans face down a government funding deadline of next Friday. In fact, it now looks likely to become the overriding issue when Republicans try to do much of anything, in the current Congress and the new Congress, for the next few months at least. GOP leaders' early plans of avoiding shutdown talk have already been forced into rewrite. It's now clear that Republicans will have to work through their internal party discord - yes, again - even as they reconvene in Washington in substantially greater numbers.



CAN FERGUSON HEAL? Yesterday on "This Week," ABC' s MARTHA RADDATZ spoke to St. Louis Alderman Antonio French about the fallout in Ferguson, Mo., following the grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson. French said Wilson sounded "remorseless, cold," in his account of how he shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. "A lot of his answers sounded like they were prepared by a lawyer," French said, adding that he does not believe Wilson's story of what happened.

NOTED: DID THE PRESIDENT BUNGLE FERGUSON RESPONSE? The "This Week" powerhouse roundtable examined President Obama's comments in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, and took a look at which potential 2016 candidates are speaking out. WATCH:

GOP SENATE CANDIDATE BILL CASSIDY SAYS LSU PART-TIME JOB IS A 'NON-ISSUE.' Was Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is locked in a bitter battle for a U.S. Senate seat runoff, getting paid by taxpayers for work he didn't do? That's the allegation raised after the release of new documents about the GOP candidate's part-time job as a professor of medicine at Louisiana State University during his time in Congress. The documents have become a late campaign issue for Cassidy just before he heads to a runoff election against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu. Among the documents released is a collection of timesheets that indicate Cassidy worked as few as seven hours in one month for his part-time teaching job that earned him $2,000 a month in addition to his Congressional salary. But in an interview with ABC's JORDYN PHELPS, Cassidy brushed aside the notion that he has been getting paid for work he hadn't done.

MEET THE TAILOR FOR PRESIDENTS PAST AND PRESENT. When Martin Greenfield first saw Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was during the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp where he was a prisoner in Word War II. Greenfield thought the future president looked like a giant. At the time, he had no idea he would one day be sewing the president's suits and slipping notes of advice into the pockets, ABC's JESSICA PUCKETT notes. Since stitching suits for President Eisenhower, Greenfield has been the tailor for most commanders-in-chief, including President Obama. Bill Clinton also trusted Greenfield to cut his suits and streamlined their mode of communication. "[President Clinton] says to me, 'Can I tell you something, Martin? Don't put notes in my pocket. I'm going to give you a fax number. You can fax me anything you want,'" Greenfield said during an interview with ABC.


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