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McConnell says Pompeo should ‘think about’ 2020 Senate bid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum” on Tuesday that he would like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to consider running for the Senate in 2020, but added that there was no need for him to leave his position right away.

The interview was McConnell’s first public acknowledgment that he is courting Pompeo to run for the Senate seat currently held by the retiring Pat Roberts. The Washington Post first reported on discussions between Pompeo and McConnell last month.

“I’d sure like for him to think about it. … Mike’s doing a great job as secretary of state,” McConnell told MacCallum. “The president’s obviously happy with him being secretary of state. At some point, [Pompeo] might decide he wants a different job and I wanted him to know we’d all be behind him if he did.”

Pompeo, 55, represented Kansas’ 4th District for three full terms in Congress before President-elect Trump nominated him to be director of the CIA in November 2016. Pompeo served 15 months in that position before he was sworn in this past April as secretary of state, replacing Rex Tillerson.

When MacCallum asked McConnell if Pompeo was receptive to the idea of running for Senate, McConnell answered: “Well, you’ll have to ask him about that.”

“I did ask him about that,” MacCallum said. “He said he’s happy where he is right now.”

“I think that’s something to consider down the road,” McConnell repeated. “There’s no urgency for him to make that decision, and we’ll see what happens.”

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McConnell also noted that Kansas has a comparatively late filing date for candidates, which would give Pompeo ample time to notify Trump of his intentions. In 2018, candidates had until June 1 to file to take part in primary elections.

Pompeo would also have an advantage should he opt to run for Roberts’ seat. Democrats have not won a Senate seat in Kansas since 1932.

McConnell confirmed to MacCallum that he would run for a seventh Senate term in 2020. McConnell, who will be 78, is the longest-serving senator from Kentucky.

Senate Dems block bill to protect abortion survivors, calling it a GOP stunt

Senate Democrats on Monday blocked a GOP effort to introduce a billl meant to protect abortion survivors, which came in response to comments last week by Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam that seemingly endorsed post-birth abortions in certain cases.

Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse sought unanimous consent to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would have required that “any health care practitioner present” at the time of a birth “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

The bill, which exempted the mother involved in the birth from prosecution, also would have required practitioners to “ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”

It prescribed a possible term of imprisonment of up to five years for violations, not including penalties for first-degree murder that could also apply.

Abortion rights advocates at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., last month. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Abortion rights advocates at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., last month. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Sasse was joined in introducing the bill by several Republican lawmakerse, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

However, Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray objected to Sasse’s bill, saying the legislation was unnecessary and amounted to a political stunt.

“We have laws against infanticide in this country,” Murray said. “This is a gross misinterpretation of the actual language of the bill that is being asked to be considered and therefore, I object.”

Sasse, speaking on the Senate floor, told his colleagues that “frankly, this shouldn’t be hard” to pass.

“In this country, all of us are created equal,” Sasse said. “Because if that equality means anything, surely it means that infanticide is wrong.”

VA LT. GOV SUGGESTS NORTHAM COULD BE BEHIND LEAK OF BOMBSHELL SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATION

Sasse specifically charged that Northam had “tarnished the American idea of equality under law, betrayed the universal truth of human dignity, and turned the stomachs of civilized people not just in this country but in every country on earth” by “endorsing infanticide.”

Sasse quoted Northam’s comment in an interview with a local radio station last week.

“When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way,” Northam said. “And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable.”

Northam continued: “So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion.”

The Virginia governor made the remark while discussing The Repeal Act, which sought to repeal restrictions on third-trimester abortions. Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran, a sponsor, was asked at a hearing if a woman about to give birth and dilating could still request an abortion.

Virginia Democrat Del. Kathy Tran is the sponsor of The Repeal Act, which seeks to repeal restrictions on third-trimester abortions.

Virginia Democrat Del. Kathy Tran is the sponsor of The Repeal Act, which seeks to repeal restrictions on third-trimester abortions.

“My bill would allow that, yes,” she said. Existing state law does not put an absolute time limit on abortions and Tran’s legislation does not alter that, but it does loosen restrictions on the need to get additional certification from doctors.

The bill was tabled in committee last week.

Northam has since insisted his comments were taken out of context, and that criticisms directed against him were “shameful and disgusting.”

His remarks, Sasse said Monday, were a symptom of a larger sentiment in the Democratic Party.

“Just a few years ago the abortion lobby was really clear in its talk in hoping that abortion would be ‘safe, and legal, but rare,'” Sasse said. “This was the slogan. Abortion would be ‘safe, legal, and rare,’ Now we’re talking about keeping the baby comfortable while the doctor have a debate about infanticide.”

MS 15-WEEK ABORTION BAN RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

“If equality means anything, surely it means that infanticide is wrong.”

— Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse

Northam and the Virginia Democratic political establishment have since become engulfed in controversy, with almost all prominent Democrats calling for Northam to resign, after the discovery of a racist photograph in his medical school yearbook page. The photograph reportedly was leaked by a “concerned citizen” unhappy with Northam’s abortion comment.

Northam has resisted the calls for his resignation, and has reversed his previous statement confirming that he appeared as one of the people in the photograph. On Monday, Virginia Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, when asked by a reporter, pointedly did not rule out the possibility that Northam could have been pushing a newly revealed sexual assault allegation against Fairfax to derail his possible ascent to the governorship.

Demonstrators at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., this past Saturday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Demonstrators at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., this past Saturday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, the Supreme Court is temporarily keeping a state law regulating abortion clinics on hold.

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Justice Samuel Alito said in a brief order Friday that the justices need more time to review arguments for and against the law, which requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The law was set to take effect Monday, though clinics have asked the high court to block its enforcement.

The clinics said at least one and maybe two of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics would have to close if the law was allowed to take effect. A federal appeals court that upheld the law said it wasn’t clear that any clinic would close.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Senate votes to halt debate on amendment opposing speedy withdrawal from Syria, Afghanistan

In the latest sign that some Senate Republicans may be starting to diverge from President Trump on foreign policy, senators voted 68-23 on Thursday to advance an amendment that would oppose a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The procedural vote needed 60 yeas, and senators voted to end debate on the amendment in bipartisan fashion.

The test vote likely means the amendment will be incorporated into the underlying Mideast policy bill, as NPR reported.

The amendment by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., comes after Trump called for a drawdown of troops in both of those countries. The measure says the Islamic State and al-Qaida militants still pose a serious threat to the United States, and warns that “a precipitous withdrawal” from those countries could “allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia.”

McConnell’s amendment, which is nonbinding, would encourage cooperation between the White House and Congress to develop long-term strategies in both nations, “including a thorough accounting of the risks of withdrawing too hastily.”

Trump abruptly tweeted plans for a U.S. pullout from Syria in December, arguing that the Islamic State had been defeated even though his intelligence chiefs have said the group remains a threat. Trump also ordered the military to develop plans to remove up to half of the 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

US JUDGE RULES SYRIA RESPONSIBLE FOR DEATH OF AMERICAN JOURNALIST

McConnell didn’t frame the measure as a reproach to the president. He said before the vote that: “I’ve been clear about my own views on these subjects.”

He said he believes the threats remain.

“ISIS and al-Qaida have yet to be defeated,” McConnell said. “And American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions there.”

TALIBAN ATTACK ON MILITARY BASE KILLS AT LEAST 65 IN AFGHANISTAN

Though many Democrats have argued that the U.S. should eventually withdraw from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, around half of them supported McConnell’s resolution.

Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said after the vote that she believes it’s “far past due for the United States to negotiate an appropriate end” to the conflict in Afghanistan, America’s longest war in its history.

But she said she also agreed with McConnell that the “precipitous withdrawal” from either country without political resolutions would risk what troops there have already achieved. She voted in favor of the measure.

Many of the most liberal members of the Senate — including several Democrats who are eying presidential runs in 2020 — voted against the amendment.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he thinks Trump announced the withdrawals too abruptly, but the U.S. has been in Afghanistan and Syria for too long.

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A vote on final passage of the amendment could come early next week. ​

​​​​​​Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Democrat ends 2020 presidential bid — 11 days after quitting state Senate to run

Former West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda ended his 2020 presidential bid Friday, just 11 days after he left his seat to focus on his White House bid.

In an hourlong Facebook video, the tattooed Army veteran said he couldn’t see himself accepting money from people struggling to get by for a race “that’s not going to be able to get off the ground.”

“When I was a kid in grade school, my teachers always said that anyone could grow up and become president,” Ojeda said. “Unfortunately, what I’m starting to realize is that unless you have wealth, influence and power, it’s not gonna happen.”

DEM SEN. JOE MANCHIN WILL VOTE YES ON BOTH GOP AND DEMOCRAT PROPOSALS TO END SHUTDOWN

Ojeda — a Democrat who voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016 — announced his presidential run in November after losing a congressional race to Republican Carol Miller. On Jan. 14, he submitted his resignation from the state Senate, WOWK-TV in Huntington, W. Va. reported

As a lawmaker, he sponsored successful legislation to make medical marijuana legal and stressed health care and economic issues.

He also came under fire in September 2018 for allegedly threatening state delegate Rupie Phillips in a Facebook message: “When I’m done with you, you will beg me to ease up. I’m going to make you famous… and it’s not going to be in a good way.”

In December, an attack he called politically motivated left him in the hospital with multiple fractures.

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In his announcement, Ojeda did not say what he would do next.

“I want you to know though that my fight does not end! I may not have the money to make the media pay attention but I will continue raising my voice and highlighting the issues the working class, the sick and the elderly face in this nation.”

Senate passes bill to reopen government, heads to House next

Trump reaches deal to temporarily end shutdown

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Trump reaches deal to temporarily end shutdown 02:17

Washington (CNN)The Senate approved a measure Friday to temporarily reopen the federal government with a short-term spending bill that does not include President Donald Trump’s requested $ 5.7 billion for a border wall

The measure — a three-week stop-gap spending bill that would reopen shuttered parts of the government through February 15 — now heads to the House of Representatives and will then head to the President’s desk for his signature.
Once it is signed by the President, it will put an end to the longest government shutdown in US history.
This story is breaking and will be updated.

Colorado senator gets heated at Ted Cruz on Senate floor over shutdown

Ted Cruz Michael Bennet Senate government shutdown debate vpx_00004314

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Washington (CNN)Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat normally known for his reserved demeanor, lashed out at Republicans — namely Sen. Ted Cruz — over the partial government shutdown on the Senate floor Thursday.

“These crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take,” Bennet said, responding to remarks made by Cruz.
Bennet noted that he “seldom” takes the floor to contradict a member because of his efforts to work in a bipartisan manner.
However, Bennet recalled when Cruz previously helped shut down the government. Cruz in 2013 notably worked to protest the Affordable Care Act, and in turn inspired votes that shut down the government for 16 days.
    “When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was under water. People were killed. People’s houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were destroyed, forever. And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down, for politics,” Bennet shouted.
    The government has been shut down for more than 30 days because Republicans and Democrats are at an impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for $ 5.7 billion to fund a border wall.
    “How ludicrous it is that this government is shut down over a promise that the President of the United States couldn’t keep?” Bennet said.
    He later continued: “This idea that he was going to build a medieval wall across the southern border of Texas, take it from the farmers and ranchers that were there, and have the Mexicans pay for it isn’t true. That’s why we’re here,” Bennet said.
      On Thursday, two proposals to reopen the government failed in the Senate — neither reaching the 60-vote threshold needed to advance.
      “And now we’re here with the government shut down over his broken promise while the Chinese are landing spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. That’s what they’re doing,” Bennet said.

      Senate rejects dueling GOP, Democratic bills to end ongoing partial federal government shutdown

      The Senate on Thursday rejected both the Democratic and GOP proposals to end the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, with both measures falling far short of the 60-vote threshold needed to pass.

      Although each of the dueling measures was expected to fail even before Thursday, it was hoped twin defeats might spur the two sides into a more serious effort to strike a compromise. Almost every proposal needs 60 votes to advance in the Senate, which is under 53-47 Republican control.

      The final vote on the GOP bill was 50-47. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin was the lone Democrat to cross over and support the GOP package, which would have provided $ 5.7 billion for President Trump’s proposed border wall while also offering several immigration-related concessions. GOP Sens. Tom Cotton and Mike Lee voted against the Republican measure.

      The Democrats’ plan would have reopened agency doors through Feb. 8 while bargainers seek a budget accord, but included no wall funding. The vote was 52-44 on the Democratic bill, with all Democrats voting yes and several Republicans crossing over, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander.

      Both the GOP and Democratic measures would have reopened federal agencies and pay 800,000 federal workers who are about to miss yet another paycheck amid the shutdown, now in its 34th day.

      Several House Democratic representatives, including Reps. John Lewis, Bobby Scott, Gregory Meeks, and Jamie Raskin, were gathered in the back of the Senate chamber during the vote, apparently to protest the Senate’s failure to consider several bills to end the shutdown that passed the Democratic-controlled House.

      Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate, told Fox News before the votes that she would support both of the proposals, and that Congress has an obligation to work on further negotiations through the weekend.

      “I personally think both of them are flawed, but having said that, I’m going to vote for both of them,” Murkowski said. “We’re going to have two show votes, and my hope is that after that, it will allow us to really get down to work.”

      Murkowski continued: “So to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, if you don’t like the provisions that have been laid down, then let’s let’s work them through. Let’s get to yes here. I don’t like the asylum provision, quite honestly, that the president laid out there. So let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about this. But if we do these two votes this afternoon and then everybody skedaddles for the weekend –Wow. What kind of a message is that?”

      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the Democratic plan was a “down the middle (to) reopen government and has received overwhelming support from both sides before President Trump said he wouldn’t do it.”

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., countered that the GOP proposal was “a compromise package the president will actually sign,” calling Schumer’s alternative a “dead-end proposal that stands no chance.”

      “It’s hard to imagine 60 votes developing for either one,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. GOP moderates such as Murkowski and Susan Collins of Maine are expected to vote for the Democratic plan, as is Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of the few Republicans representing a state carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

      The White House was eagerly watching Thursday’s votes. Officials think it will be harder for Democrats to keep sticking together amid Trump’s offers, according to a person familiar with White House thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly. They are hopeful for defections by Democrats who may cross party lines to vote with the president.

      Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters a day after officially postponing President Donald Trump's State of the Union address until the government is fully reopened, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

      Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters a day after officially postponing President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address until the government is fully reopened, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

      Trump told state and local officials on a conference call Wednesday, “Democrats are lousy politicians in many ways, they’re lousy politicians and they have lousy policy, the only thing they do well is stick together.”

      HOUSE DEMS BLOCK GOP EFFORTS TO PAY FEDERAL WORKERS

      The House earlier on Thursday passed the latest in a series of measures aimed at reopening the government with a 231-180 vote to open the Homeland Security Department. It was the 11th attempt to pass a bill ending the shutdown.

      With the impacts of the shutdown becoming increasingly painful, however, lawmakers on both sides were trumpeting their willingness to compromise in the battle over border security and immigration issues, such as protection against deportation for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

      “It’s clear what the president wants,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “It’s clear what we want. If you have a negotiation, both parties are going to put on the table what they want.” He added: “By definition a successful negotiation gets to a place where both sides feel they got something, right?”

      TRUMP POSTPONES STATE OF THE UNION AFTER PELOSI SAYS HE’S NOT WELCOME IN THE HOUSE

      “We can work this out,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.

      Simply starting the negotiations has been the initial problem. Democrats insist on opening the government first rather than reward Trump’s tactics, while Republicans warn that immediately reopening the government would give Democrats too much leverage in any talks.

      Trump’s ex-chief of staff, John Kelly, joined the four other former Homeland Security secretaries in signing a letter urging Trump and his Democratic rivals to end the shutdown.

      President Donald Trump, center, speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, as he hosts a roundtable with conservative leaders to discuss the security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

      President Donald Trump, center, speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, as he hosts a roundtable with conservative leaders to discuss the security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

      At a panel discussion held by House Democrats on the effects of the shutdown, union leaders and former Homeland Security officials said they worried about the long-term effects. “I fear we are rolling the dice,” said Tim Manning, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official. “We will be lucky to get everybody back on the job without a crisis to respond to.”

      DEM CAUCUS MEETING ROILED BY TALK THAT SUPER BOWL SECURITY MAY BE AFFECTED BY SHUTDOWN

      The partial shutdown began just before Christmas after Trump indicated that he wouldn’t sign a stopgap spending bill backed by top Republicans like McConnell, who shepherded a bill through the Senate that would have funded the government up to Feb. 8. The House passed a plan with money for the wall as one of the last gasps of the eight-year GOP majority.

      On Thursday, almost five weeks later, House Democrats continued work on a package that would ignore Trump’s demand for $ 5.7 billion for a wall with Mexico and would instead pay for other ideas aimed at protecting the border.

      Details of Democrats’ border security plan and its cost remained a work in progress. Party leaders said it would include money for scanning devices and other technological tools for improving security at ports of entry and along the border, plus money for more border agents and immigration judges.

      A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was the latest indicator that the shutdown is hurting Trump with the general public. While his approval among Republicans remains strong, just 34 percent of Americans like his performance as president and 6 in 10 assign a great deal of responsibility to him for the shutdown, about double the share blaming Democrats, according to the poll out Wednesday.

      Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Jason Donner, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

      Michael Cohen subpoenaed by Senate Intelligence committee

      (CNN)President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was subpoenaed Thursday to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in mid-February, according to a source close to Cohen.

      It is not clear how Cohen will respond. The source said that Cohen has the same concerns regarding the safety of his family that led him to try to postpone his appearance before a House Oversight Committee hearing.
      Senate Intelligence traditionally does their interviews behind closed doors, not publicly.
      A committee spokeswoman declined to comment.

      Senate to vote on competing proposals to reopen government — but still no end in sight to shutdown

      lead abby phillip DNT trump shutdown_00001916

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      Washington (CNN)The Senate is set to hold a pair of test votes on competing proposals to reopen the government on Thursday — and both are expected to fail with no clear consensus between Democrats and Republicans over how to end the longest shutdown in US history.

      The votes are slated to start at 2:30 p.m. ET. First up will be a vote on a Republican-backed proposal that would allocate $ 5.7 billion for President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall. The second vote will take up a Democratic-backed proposal that would temporarily reopen shuttered government agencies without providing any money for a wall.
      Neither measure is expected to receive the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.
      And there is still no sign yet on Capitol Hill that the shutdown is nearing an end.
        In the latest sign of partisan acrimony over the shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the President went back-and-forth on Wednesday over whether the President will deliver the State of the Union address at the Capitol despite the ongoing lapse in government funding.
        Trump sent a letter to Pelosi saying he still planned on giving the speech, despite an earlier letter from the speaker suggesting that he postpone the address until the shutdown ends or deliver it in writing. Pelosi responded to the President by saying she would not allow him to deliver the address in the House chamber while the government remains shut down.
        House Democrats have repeatedly passed legislation to reopen the government since taking over the majority in the lower chamber and continue to do so this week. But none of those proposals have included the money requested by the President to fund the wall, triggering White House veto threats and making the bills dead on arrival in the Senate.
        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced earlier in the week that they had reached an agreement to hold Thursday’s votes, which will be the first major movement in the Senate related to the shutdown since it started just days before Christmas.
        The Republican measure is in line with what the President outlined last weekend when he asked for $ 5.7 billion in funding for a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for some immigrants.
        Democrats swiftly rejected that offer and have steadfastly opposed allocating the funds requested by the President for his long-promised wall at the US-Mexico border.
        The Democratic measure to reopen government that will receive a vote Thursday would temporarily reopen government into early February.
        Congressional Democrats have insisted that the government should reopen first before lawmakers proceed to a debate on border security measures.
        But so far, the President has not signaled that he is willing to move away from his demand for more than $ 5 billion for the wall that he made his signature issue while campaigning for the White House.
        The math in the Senate makes it clear that both of the measures up for a vote on Thursday have little chance to pass, barring some kind of unexpected development.
          Seven Democrats would have to crossover for the GOP bill to pass — Republicans hold 53 Senate seats — and there has been little indication that’s possible. And 13 Republicans would have to crossover for the Democratic bill to pass, which is also unlikely unless Trump were to reverse course and support the bill.
          The decision to allow votes on measures that are not certain to receive the bipartisan support needed to pass Congress and be signed into law by the President marks a shift for McConnell, who had previously said repeatedly after the shutdown started that he would not take up legislation related to the funding impasse unless it was clear it would be able to pass Congress and be signed into law by the President.

          Pompeo for Senate? Pressure mounts for secretary of state to join 2020 race in Kansas

          Pressure is mounting for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to throw his hat into the ring for the open Senate seat in Kansas in 2020 – at least in Washington, D.C.

          Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is reportedly pursuing Pompeo to run for the seat which will be vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Roberts. And Indiana Sen. Todd Young, the new National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, had nothing but praise for Pompeo in a recent interview.

          “Let me put it this way: it’s certainly his decision,” Young told radio host Hugh Hewitt before mentioning the various capacities in which he’s worked alongside Pompeo. “I can conceive of no one who I’d rather work with in the United States Senate from the state of Kansas than Mike Pompeo.”

          Some Kansas Republicans have already touted Pompeo as an alternative to the controversial former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who lost his bid for governor in the 2018 midterm elections. He has said he’s seriously considering running for the Senate seat.

          “There is enormous respect for [Pompeo] across the spectrum in Kansas,” said consultant David Kensinger, who has ran successful campaigns for Roberts and former Gov. Sam Brownback. “We’ve already paid a great price with Kobach when he ran for governor.”

          “The country has never needed Kansas to do the right thing more.”

          — David Kensinger, consultant

          POMPEO ON BORDER SECURITY: IT’S ‘AN IMPORTANT PART OF AMERICAN SOVEREIGNTY’

          “The country has never needed Kansas to do the right thing more,” Kensinger told Fox News.

          “Kris Kobach in the general election would be a major problem that Republicans are wisely trying to avoid,” Scott Paradise, a GOP consultant, told The Kansas City Star. “Pompeo would immediately take this race off the board.”

          Kobach led Trump’s short-lived commission on election integrity and took a strict stance on immigration policies in his gubernatorial race. Multiple Kansas Republicans ultimately backed his Democratic opponent, Laura Kelly, who won the race.

          As Fox News previously reported, Pompeo, 55, seems to be at least considering running for Senate as he reportedly met with veteran Republican strategist Ward Baker to discuss a potential campaign earlier this week.

          PAT ROBERTS’ DEPARTURE PLANS SPARK SPECULATION IN KANSAS ABOUT WHO’LL SUCCEED HIM

          Pompeo was initially tapped to be Trump’s CIA director but was selected last year to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. A former congressman from Kansas, he is the first CIA director to lead the State Department.

          “For all the national attention [Pompeo] is getting, in Kansas, he is not scaring anybody out of the race at this point.”

          — Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas

          A departure from Trump’s Cabinet would be seen as a significant loss to the president who has come to increasingly rely on him.

          But even without a firm commitment one way or another from Pompeo, Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, said the excitement surrounding the secretary of state might be premature.

          POMPEO REPORTEDLY MEETING WITH TOP GOP STRATEGIST AS HE MULLS 2020 SENATE BID

          “It’s so rare that we actually have an open Senate seat in Kansas. When we do have those they draw a fair deal of attention, particularly on the Republican side,” Miller told Fox News. “There’s a pretty deep Republican bunch with a lot of pent-up ambition who would like to move up the political ladder.

          “For all the national attention [Pompeo] is getting, in Kansas, he is not scaring anybody out of the race at this point,” he added. “We have some candidates who are already in the race who are showing no signs of deference to Mike Pompeo and his interest in the race.”

          Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, former Gov. Jeff Colyer, Rep. Roger Marshall, former Rep. Kevin Yoder and Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, are among other possible contenders.

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          While Democrats did make inroads in Kansas during the 2018 midterm elections – capturing both the governorship and a congressional seat – Republicans are still very much favored to maintain the Senate seat vacated by Roberts. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report currently has the 2020 Senate race in the state going “likely Republican.”

          Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.