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.
Continue reading “Why Future Supreme Court Picks Will Be Hardliners”

Will Trump and Putin Be Buddies?

Donald Trump’s first 100 days will feature plenty of speculation about the president making nice with Russia. Indeed, there are already rumblings about a potential nuclear summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, the same city where three decades ago Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev started negotiations that would eventually bring the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion. Trump has also hinted at the possibility of lifting sanctions on Moscow should the Kremlin prove a valuable ally in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

But don’t expect the new president to make any bold moves right away. Developing a coherent foreign policy takes time. Despite the infamous “reset” photo-op, it took several months for the Obama administration to devise its Russia strategy, according to Michael Kofman, a senior fellow at the Wilson Center. For Trump, this task will be made extra difficult by a number of factors. Continue reading “Will Trump and Putin Be Buddies?”

Trump’s Cybersecurity Challenges

Among the biggest questions facing President-elect Donald Trump: What will be the new “norms” of cyberspace in a rapidly changing technological and geopolitical landscape? The answer is far from clear. Moreover, there is very little precedent for tackling some of the thorniest problems the president must confront.

Expect Trump to favor firm retaliation for any major cyber-breaches, especially if China is the culprit. He has already voiced his intention to take a harder line against Beijing on a range of issues, including trade. China, meanwhile, will be more inclined to challenge the U.S. if it feels its vital interests, such as Taiwan and the “One-China” policy, are truly at stake. Continue reading “Trump’s Cybersecurity Challenges”

What Will Obama, Trump Do About Russia?

President Obama will almost certainly deliver a forceful response to Russia’s cyber-meddling in the 2016 presidential election before his term expires next month and Donald Trump moves into the Oval Office.

What that response will look like is hard to say, though sanctions are much more likely than harsher measures. Cyberdefense remains a weak spot for the U.S., and questions about the best way to respond to acts of online aggression have largely gone unanswered during Obama’s time in office, according to Claude Barfield of the American Enterprise Institute. Continue reading “What Will Obama, Trump Do About Russia?”

Will Trump’s foreign policy upend the post cold war consensus?

With his victory in the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump has the potential to upend the consensus that has governed American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

Will he? The short answer: Probably not. There’s an old saying about presidential candidates and foreign policy: “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” In other words, Trump the president will take a far different approach than Trump the Republican nominee, much as Barack Obama did after he was elected in 2008.

Continue reading “Will Trump’s foreign policy upend the post cold war consensus?”