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How Trump could complicate federal government funding

President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn in in nine weeks. But President Trump and his allies continue to reject the results of the election, filing legal challenges in key states and falsely claiming widespread voting fraud. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff to discuss Trump’s latest moves, how lawmakers are reacting to them and upcoming congressional priorities.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The next president is set to be sworn in nine weeks from today.

    Although the Associated Press and other news major outlets say that that will — say that will be Joe Biden, President Trump and his allies continue to contest the results.

    Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins are here with the latest.

    Hello to both of you.

    So, Yamiche, to you first.

    We are now more than two weeks since Election Day. The president, as we have been reporting, still insists that he has not lost. He is continuing to mount these challenges. What do we know right now?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president is continuing his longshot bid to wrestle back this election somehow from president-elect Biden.

    And, today, that wrestling back took the form of a partial recount. The Trump campaign is demanding a $3 million partial recount in Wisconsin. It's focusing on two specific counties, Dane County and Milwaukee County. That's important because critics say that these are Democratic strongholds that are not going to at all be overturned, even if you recount the votes.

    Now, the Trump campaign could have asked for an $8 million statewide recount, but they're not doing that, saving some of that money. But they do want to show that they are still in this fight. Campaign sources say that the president feels like he can still win this election.

    But critics say this is really theatrics, and nothing more. Now, the Trump campaign, as you noted, is continuing to mount legal challenges and continuing to have lawsuits go in a number of states, including in Nevada, in Pennsylvania, in Georgia, and similar arguments being made, that there's massive voter fraud.

    Again, no evidence of that.

    Another thing to note, though, is this shifting rhetoric that we continue to see happening with those close to President Trump. Today, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, he went to Capitol Hill, spoke to senators. Senators describe that as a mixed message, a goodbye message and — some thought, but also a message to say. fight on.

    He said, in part, on President Trump's term, it could be 45 days or four years and 45 days. Now, take that and add that with Trump campaign sources telling me that the mood inside the Trump campaign is demoralized, people feeling like the president is, at this point, a sore loser and feeling like it's a longshot bid and almost impossible for him to win this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, meantime, Lisa, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Democrats in the House of Representatives gathered today. They know they are going to be looking at a smaller majority in January.

    What did they decide? What are they doing?

  • Lisa Desjardins:


    Eclipsed by all of the attention, understandably, on the presidential race are some really interesting changes happening in the House. Something that's not changing, who will be leading House Democrats. Today, House Democrats voted by voice acclamation in their private meeting that Nancy Pelosi would retain the speakership.

    Now, she still needs 218 votes in January. We will get there later, Judy. But Democrats have said she will be their leader. The top three leadership positions, in fact, are unchanged for right now.

    But the fact of the matter is, something is different for House Democrats, something dramatic. Their margin is going to be smaller coming into it. Let's look at where the House balance of power stands right now.

    Here's that fan graphic I love to show, Amna and I were talking about on election night so much. Right now, Democrats have 220 seats won in this year's election. Of course, a majority in the House is 218 seats. There are 11 seats still uncalled. Now, Republicans lead in about three or four, depending on how you want to look at it, that they could take from Democrats.

    And, in fact, there's some fascinating races, in Iowa, a 400,000-voter race down to 47 votes. But the point here is that Democrats have some things that they need to focus on for next year. One, when you talk about House Democrats, they will have fewer moderates, a smaller margin.

    Pelosi has said that that agenda won't change for them because of it. But, when you talk behind the scenes, you know there's unity on a few things, infrastructure, voting rights for Democrats, but this smaller margin could spell problems for other agenda items, like climate and spending, Judy.

    It's going to be difficult for Democrats in some instances to stay unified. But, so far, Speaker Pelosi has done it better than anyone.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Lisa, it's natural for them to be focusing on next year, but they still have time this year to get some things done.

    What are they saying about that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    There is one major priority that must get done. That is keeping government funding — funded.

    The deadline for that is December 11. So, that might seem like it's a few weeks away, but, actually, Congress is leaving for Thanksgiving break today and tomorrow. And they will not be able to address that in the meantime. So, when they come back, they will have just two weeks to deal with that December 11 funding deadline.

    And there is some good news. Democrats and Republicans are getting closer to a deal amongst themselves. But, Judy, I have to tell you, both parties and both sides of the Capitol told me today they're worried about President Trump. He needs to sign any funding deal or even just an extension of funding.

    And, of course, you remember the last time power changed hands in 2018, Democrats came into the House with that election. We had the longest government shutdown in history because President Trump would not get on board.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We remember it well.

    Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, no shortage of things to cover well after this election. Thank you both.

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