Congress is still in recess, which leaves Capitol Hill looking like a ghost town. That doesn’t mean individual members of Congress aren’t working overtime to get re-elected. Congressional Republicans are trying to fend off efforts by Democrats to win a majority of seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives (although Republicans are not necessarily invoking the name of the Republican nominee for president for assistance). For Congressional Republicans, it is an intense effort to build a firewall to preserve their majority. For Congressional Democrats, the next three weeks will be an all-out political offensive to win a majority in Congress. The November 8 election will determine the outcome.
If Democrats gain a Congressional majority next year, look for immigration reform and more infrastructure spending. If Republicans preserve their majority, look for them to start working on their Better Way agenda and to mend the intraparty turmoil caused by the presidential election. If Donald Trump wins the election, look for Congressional term limits. No matter who wins, there will be a lame duck session of Congress after the election … and Democrats will be in no mood to help Republicans pass a government funding bill. And one big question remains: If Republicans lose their majority, will they quickly move to confirm Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court?
Of course, the main topic of conversation this week was the presidential debate. NCPA’s post-debate insight captured the mood of most freedom-loving Americans. For my part, I think Chris Wallace was the undisputed winner of the debate. The loser may have been any candidate that is down ballot from an unpopular presidential candidate.
Here’s what else is going on in (quiet) Washington:
- Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was in Washington for a state visit.
- President Obama defended Obamacare in a major policy speech, although the public in general (including more and more Democrats) still view the law unfavorably.
- President Obama and the Department of Education celebrated a record-high 83.2% high school graduation rate.
- President Obama threatened to roll back the law that allows 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. [Editorial comment: While everyone decries the comments about Donald Trump not conceding the election just quite yet, doesn’t President Obama’s “roll-back” of a law that was passed by Congress, vetoed, then passed again by Congress seem dangerously unconstitutional?]
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department denied that there was a quid pro quo for classified documents, even though Hillary Clinton’s leaked private e-mails seem to suggest otherwise.
Brian Williams is the NCPA’s Legislative Director.