What Does Special Counsel Mean for Trump’s Political Fortunes?

Washington today feels like London during the blitz: Every day brings a new bombshell about President Donald Trump’s apparent efforts to derail an FBI investigation into his campaign’s alleged Russian ties.

The latest: A special counsel. The Justice Department Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the bureau’s probe following Trump’s decision to fire Director James Comey earlier this month. Continue reading “What Does Special Counsel Mean for Trump’s Political Fortunes?”

Surprise Comey Firing Roils Capitol Hill

President Trump blindsided Washington once again this week, this time with his shock firing of FBI Director James Comey. On Capitol Hill, the move infuriated Democrats and frustrated Republicans, who are growing weary of being left in the dark by a White House often disconnected from, and sometimes disdainful of, the legislative branch.

The Comey sideshow is poised to further slow a Congress already gridlocked by partisan rancor. And as it faces a full plate of major agenda items—such as a health-care overhaul, tax reform, appropriations bills and a looming debt ceiling—Republicans can ill afford another distraction.
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Trump Hits a Wall on North Korea

When he took office, Donald Trump, like most presidents, inherited a slew of geopolitical headaches from his predecessor. Now one of those headaches, North Korea, is turning into a migraine.

Trump has done his best to keep Pyongyang—and everyone else—guessing on how he plans to address the growing crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program. Continue reading “Trump Hits a Wall on North Korea”

Health Care Bill Faces Uncertainty in the Senate

House Republicans today rushed through passage of legislation that calls for repealing and replacing key parts of Obamacare, with the 217-213 vote coming largely along party lines. But the issue is far from resolved.

Expect the bill to undergo major changes in the Senate, where some Republicans believe it’s too harsh. One provision likely to be stripped out is a ban on federal payments to Planned Parenthood, which was pushed for by anti-abortion House Republicans. Continue reading “Health Care Bill Faces Uncertainty in the Senate”

Government Shutdown Will Be Averted

Congress will approve a must-pass spending bill in time to avoid a government shutdown next week, but not before some last-minute histrionics spurred on by the White House.

Federal agencies will run out of operating funds next Friday at midnight, so the massive spending bill is needed to keep them open through September, when the fiscal year ends. But President Trump wants to tack on several of his agenda items, such as money for the proposed Mexican border wall, a ban on federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities, which shield illegal immigrants from deportation, and possibly a defunding of Planned Parenthood. Continue reading “Government Shutdown Will Be Averted”

Senate Rule Change for Gorsuch: A Harbinger of Things to Come?

Today’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court gave President Trump his biggest victory since his inauguration. But the action has a much broader impact, as it potentially sets up a monumental change in the way the Senate does business.

By invoking the “nuclear option,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) changed Senate rules and barred the use of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations, meaning that confirmation now is achieved with a simple majority in the 100-seat chamber instead of 60 votes. Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54 to 45, with three Democrats crossing the aisle and one Republican who missed the vote due to illness. Continue reading “Senate Rule Change for Gorsuch: A Harbinger of Things to Come?”

What’s Next For Health Care, Trump’s Agenda?

The odds of repealing and replacing Obamacare look even worse after House Republicans couldn’t unite around replacement legislation and the bill had to be pulled before today’s vote.

The failure represents a major setback for President Trump and for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Continue reading “What’s Next For Health Care, Trump’s Agenda?”

Trump Wants to Give Churches a Political Role

Churches will play a much greater role in American politics if President Trump and congressional Republicans have their way.

Conservatives on and off Capitol Hill for years have been eager to remove a provision of U.S. tax law that prevents churches and other nonprofits from participating in partisan political activities. Now, with Republicans controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, supporters of lifting the six-decade-old ban feel the time is right to act. Continue reading “Trump Wants to Give Churches a Political Role”

Trump’s Tenuous Relationship With Congress Will Evolve

President Trump’s success, ultimately, rests with his ability to work with Congress. And while his relationship with Republicans who control Capitol Hill has gotten off to a rocky start, expect things to smooth over in the coming months as both sides work toward advancing common goals.

Trump’s views expressed in many of his early executive actions, particularly those involving trade, immigration and foreign policy, don’t align perfectly with the Republican mainstream, so it’s not surprising he didn’t check first with GOP leadership on the Hill. But looking ahead to big ticket items on the party’s legislative calendar, namely an Obamacare overhaul and tax reform, the sides are in much more agreement; not perfectly in sync, but not poles apart either. Continue reading “Trump’s Tenuous Relationship With Congress Will Evolve”

Why Future Supreme Court Picks Will Be Hardliners

Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, will be confirmed, but probably not without an unusual step guaranteeing that many future nominees to the highest court by presidents of both parties will be far more partisan than in the past.

Gorsuch, known as a powerful writer who prefers to interpret the Constitution as he thinks its authors intended, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as a circuit judge. Under ordinary circumstances, he would easily win confirmation to the Supreme Court.
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