CHEAT SHEET: The next week in D.C. — MORE DIRT on BLAKE FARENTHOLD from MJ LEE — PUTIN: collusion accusations damage U.S. political system — SPOTTED: Obama at District Winery

INSIDE MOSCOW’S MIND — AP/MOSCOW at 5:33 a.m. “Russian president says accusations of Trump collusion by his opponents damage U.S. political system.”

THE DECEMBER TIMELINE — Here’s a rough sketch of what you should expect for the next week. Friday: Republicans are scheduled to release their tax bill. Monday through Wednesday: Congress is going to finish up its tax debate. Remainder of the week: Government funding, which expires Friday, Dec. 22.

THERE IS NOW A CHANCE the House will move first on the tax bill now, according to multiple people involved in the talks. The Senate was supposed to vote Monday, followed by the House. But now there’s chatter the House will vote first, so they can push through a government-funding bill while the Senate wrestles with the tax bill.

— THE PROBLEMS. ABSENCES: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is in the hospital. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) hasn’t voted in the past few days. GOVERNMENT FUNDING MISGIVINGS: House Republicans had a tense internal meeting yesterday afternoon, in which they laid out their plan to fund the Pentagon for a year, while keeping the rest of the government on a short-term spending plan that runs to Jan. 18. House Republican leaders are facing pressure to pass that bill, and leave town — an attempt to force the Senate to swallow it. But the Senate cannot pass this package — and most House Republicans recognize this. It’s a dangerous game of chicken. If they leave town, the government could shut down. Competing pressures abound: Texans want disaster money, hawks want defense money and some conservatives say they’re tired of kowtowing to the Senate.

Good Thursday morning. BREAKING — “John McCain, battling brain cancer, in Walter Reed from effects of treatment,” by WaPo’s Paul Kane: “Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for recovery from the side effects of another round of treatment for brain cancer … McCain, who missed a third straight day of Senate votes Wednesday, has been undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and radiation to treat glioblastoma, the terminal form of brain cancer he was diagnosed with in July. McCain has been undergoing treatments since early September at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, next to Walter Reed.” http://wapo.st/2jUgr1y

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