* Alex Seitz-Wald reports that Democrats are expanding the map yet again:
House Democrats are stepping on the gas, with plans to target over 100 Republican-held congressional districts in the November midterm elections.
At House Democrats’ annual conference on Thursday, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), is expected to tell colleagues the committee is expanding the battleground to include 101 Republicans — the largest in a decade, a Democratic source familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The seven new targets push Democrats even deeper into Republican territory in South Carolina, Wisconsin and Texas. And they include the Ohio seat held by the man charged with defending the GOP’s majority, Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. (Republicans are also targeting Lujan.)
This is what liberal activists have been urging for years: compete everywhere, because in the right year you could be competitive in places you didn’t anticipate.
* Mike DeBonis and Erica Werner report that we’re getting near to a budget agreement:
Congressional leaders worked Thursday to muscle through a sweeping two-year bipartisan budget deal that would add more than a half-trillion dollars in federal spending as the clock ticked toward a midnight shutdown deadline.
Objections from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) delayed plans for the Senate to start voting on the legislation Thursday afternoon, but leaders said they expected it to pass easily once the roadblock is cleared.
The tougher task will be getting it through the House. Both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats were balking after the deal was unveiled Wednesday — the former angry about the spending jolt, the latter fuming about the lack of protections for young immigrants at risk for deportation under the Trump administration.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed confidence Thursday that the bill, which delivers a military funding boost sought by the GOP alongside increases in domestic spending favored by Democrats, would pass.
House conservatives aren’t really all that angry about increased spending. It’s just that they have to say they’re angry about it, because being angry is their reason for existing as a bloc.
* This seems counter-intuitive, at least if you listen to the pundits: Even as the media chatter is focused on an alleged GOP rebound, the Cook Political Report just shifted 21 of its House ratings toward Democrats.
* Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett report that Sen. Jeff Flake is preparing a backup plan to protect Dreamers if a broader immigration bill can’t be agreed on.
* Jacqueline Klimas reports that Secretary of Defense James Mattis says that Dreamers serving in the military will not be deported even if their legal protection expires. Somehow I think that if I were one of them, I’d feel less than completely reassured.
* Jeet Heer gets to the heart of the problem with the idea that Republicans have tamed Trump: This is part of a tacit deal in which they shield him from accountability in exchange for his help in carrying out deeply destructive conservative policies.
* Yochi Dreazen walks you through what war with North Korea would look like. Spoiler: Very very not good.
Perhaps it will be decorated with a sign reading “No Girlz or Demmocrits Alowed!”