Crunch Time For Trump's Agenda

Donald Trump is entering the second year of his presidency, but he and Republicans in Congress will need to govern as though it's his last.

After months of inaction on the top items in their shared legislative agenda, they closed out 2017 with a bang. A tax reform bill that also repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate and allowed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge became law in December, capping a busy year of deregulation, military gains against the Islamic State, and successful conservative judicial nominees.

Trump and congressional Republicans won’t have the luxury of a late legislative windfall in 2018. This year, the entire House and a third of the Senate is up for re-election. The closer it gets to November, the harder it will be to get Republicans seeking another term to take difficult votes. Democrats are expected to make gains, having already reduced the GOP Senate majority to a razor-thin 51-49 margin with an improbable win in Alabama. If they capture one or both houses, Republicans may never have another chance to pass conservative legislation unimpeded by the opposition.

"The Trump White House and congressional Republicans know that if they want to maintain their majority in the House of Representatives and possibly make gains in the Senate, they cannot rest on their 2017 accomplishments, they have to continue racking up legislative wins," said GOP campaign veteran Ford O'Connell. "This won’t be easy because they have a limited window before scores of members forsake their legislative duties and start worrying about their political livelihoods. Expect legislative dealings to halt by the summer of 2018."

"As of right now, Democrats are a slight favorite to win the House," said O'Connell. "That said, Republicans want to show that they can govern. Further, congressional Republicans want to make the case to some of their constituents that you do not have to like Trump to appreciate what is being accomplished. They are hoping legislative accomplishments can stem the tide of the Democrats' 'impeach Trump' mantra."

Read more from W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner

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Analysis & Political Strategy