Republicans Are Running Out Of Time

Republicans are running out of time. Today they control all of Washington. Come January, they may be confined to the White House.

The loss of even just the House of Representatives after the midterm elections in November, the likeliest scenario, would put Democrats in charge of originating tax and spending bills as well as initiating the impeachment process. If the Senate falls, it will stymie President Trump’s ability to fill executive and judicial branch vacancies.

Either chamber falling under Democratic control also means an uptick in congressional hearings about various scandals involving the Trump administration and its officials. Time devoted to Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election or potential violations of the emoluments clause will mean less time spent on Trump’s legislative priorities. And investigations targeting the administration will be covered more sympathetically than committee hearings on Whitewater or Benghazi. Additionally, lawmakers may augment or accelerate investigations that are already underway.

As the days tick down to the November election, incumbents on Capitol Hill facing tough races will be increasingly reluctant to take hard votes. Note how little Democrats did with majorities much bigger than the ones the Republicans have now after passing Obamacare — which by itself arguably cost them the House. At-risk Republicans may decide controversial votes to cut corporate tax rates and (mostly unsuccessfully) scuttle Obamacare are enough for them to contend with on the campaign trail.

Still, Republicans need to pass a dozen appropriations bills with the fiscal year set to end Sept. 30. In the Senate, they will need some Democratic votes to do so because of the filibuster rules. The more Republican defections there are, the more Democrats will be required. Otherwise they risk a partial government shutdown just weeks out from the election.

“The second Anthony Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court, the agenda on Capitol Hill became about one thing — confirming a new justice to the bench,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “And given the slim majority Republicans have in the Senate, both parties will have a laser-like focus on the confirmation process, which will likely last through September. Beyond that Republicans will be counting on President Trump to continue to deliver on his campaign promises, but that will likely be relegated to executive orders and the foreign policy front.”

That means both pushing through must-pass legislation under the wire as well as getting congressional Democrats on record on issues that will rally the GOP base ahead of November.

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

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Analysis & Political Strategy