What’s Up in Washington This Week?

donkeyelephantCongress is still in recess. All eyes are on the election in less than two weeks — and the next several days are certain to be active (especially if you live in a battleground state)!  The Democratic candidate has $172 million to spend, while the GOP candidate only has $73 million, so look for a lot of television commercials between now and November 8…and a new airplane for the GOP vice presidential candidate.

Just about the only thing happening in Washington before Election Day is the ritual game of hypothetical musical chairs. Congressional leadership elections are scheduled for mid-November (in spite of an appeal from the House Freedom Caucus to delay the leadership elections until after the lame duck session) and members are quietly whispering about what would happen if Rep. Paul Ryan doesn’t secure enough votes for re-election as Speaker of the House. If you haven’t heard by now, the Speaker of the House doesn’t have to be a member of Congress, so the options are almost endless. And questions about the Speaker are just the tip of the iceberg. Who will be the next chairman of the House Appropriations Committee?  Who will chair the Education and Workforce Committee?  What about the Energy and Commerce Committee?  Will Sen. Patty Murray challenge Sen. Dick Durban to be Senate Whip?  If Rep. Chris Van Hollen wins his Senate race, who will take his place at the Budget Committee?  If the Democrats gain a majority in the Senate, which committee will Bernie Sanders chair?  If Hillary Clinton wins, who will fill Tim Kaine’s seat in the Senate?  And the most recent question I heard today was: Will Joe Biden be Secretary of State in a Clinton Administration? Heaven help us.

Here are a few other things going on in the nation’s capital:

  • Obamacare update. In what’s turning out to be an “October Surprise” with an expensive policy twist, Obamacare health insurance premiums are skyrocketing for millions of voters just before the November 8 election. NCPA’s John R. Graham explains the policy and the politicians explain the politics. Meanwhile millions of Americans are deciding to pay the Obamacare penalty instead of buying health insurance.
  • Clemency. President Obama granted an additional 98 prison commutations this week, for a total of 688 this year. That’s the most commutations ever granted in a single year.
  • Economic growth. The U.S. economy grew 2.9% last quarter, which was welcome news amid the tepid economic recovery.

Brian Williams is the NCPA’s Legislative Director.

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