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National Govt & Politics
Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress
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Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress

Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump legislative agenda not exactly speeding through Congress

While President Donald Trump has been active in churning out executive actions to follow through on some of his campaign promises, his legislative agenda in the Congress has not jumped out of the starting gate on Capitol Hill, as he continues to look to chalk up his first significant legislative achievement.

Here is where we stand on a number of fronts in Washington:

1. GOP health care overhaul remains in limbo. The one major issue where Republicans have tried to take action is on the Obama health law, but those plans remain bogged down in the Congress. Yes, there was a lot of noise in the halls of the Capitol this week about Republicans making another big try at finding agreement on health care, but there was no real evidence that an agreement was near, as the GOP remains short on votes, but filled with internal finger pointing over who is blame for the failure. President Trump has tried to use the bully pulpit to get more conservative Republicans in line, but it hasn't worked so far, as members of the House Freedom Caucus have said repeatedly that they aren't going to sign on to a plan that is "Obamacare Lite."

2. Trump Tax Reform plan not ready for prime time. While there was talk of moving quickly on to tax reform in the immediate aftermath of the Republican troubles on health care, the White House made clear this week that there is no plan ready to be rolled out just yet. "The team is weighing the best option to develop a plan that will provide significant middle-class tax relief and make American businesses more competitive," said spokesman Sean Spicer. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said last week that he believes a plan could be passed by the House and Senate by August - but that prediction was met with raised eyebrows in the halls of Congress, where it's been over 30 years since the last tax reform package made it through the House and Senate. There's a simple reason why - it's not easy.

3. Money for the border wall seems to be on hold. While President Trump has long talked about building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, squeezing money immediately out of the Congress for that might not happen. The White House wants $1 billion in funding in a measure that will fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year, through the end of September. But Democrats have made clear they will filibuster any bill that has money for the wall, which could lead to a government shutdown. Key GOP lawmakers say that money for the wall may have to wait until later this year, and they especially don't like one part of the Trump plan, which would make cuts at the National Institutes of Health as part of that spending package. The wall sounds great - but there are a number of Republicans who don't feel it's a funding priority.

4. The Congressional schedule and a government shutdown. Also standing in the way of quick action on any Trump legislative agenda items is the schedule for Congress, which will be in session next week, and then take two weeks off for an Easter break. Once lawmakers return on April 17, they will have eight scheduled legislative business days to figure out how to avoid a government shutdown on April 28. April 29 will mark the 100th day of President Trump's time in office; Republicans don't want to have to mark that day with a government that is not open for business. We could well repeat the whole government shutdown threat at the end of September as well. It will be interesting to see how the President handles that, plus the need to raise the debt limit later this year.

5. White House notes renaming of VA clinic - in Pago Pago. During Friday's White House briefing, something from Press Secretary Sean Spicer caught my ear, as he was rattling off bills that the President would be signing. Most of the new laws approved so far by Mr. Trump have been special resolutions that repeal certain rules and regulations of the Obama Administration - but this one was much more limited, as Spicer noted, "H.R. 1362, naming a VA outpatient clinic in Pago Pago, American Samoa." That clinic was renamed for the late delegate Eni Faleomavaega, who died recently - he was a popular personality in the House for many years. But let's get down to business - VA clinics in Pago Pago weren't at the top of the Trump Legislative Agenda, and probably wasn't something you thought you would hear mentioned at the White House Briefing.

6. Continued signs of White House friction with some GOP lawmakers. This last week, President Trump used Twitter to take multiple jabs at the House Freedom Caucus, and several specific Republicans in the Congress, urging them to get on board with his agenda, including the GOP health care bill. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) said it was made plain to him that the President would try to knock him out of office in 2018. And then there was a top Trump aide who urged a primary challenger in 2018 for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). One thing I noticed in the hallways of Congress in recent weeks is those type of threats don't scare more conservative GOP lawmakers.

Yes, it's still early for President Trump. There are other agenda items like a big infrastructure package for roads and bridges, which is also not even on the table yet - as it is not obvious when he will be able to celebrate a big legislative success in Congress.

And like in sports, momentum is always important in politics.

Read More

News

  • The Mall of Georgia-area mixed-use development backed by Atlanta Falcons superstar Julio Jones is about to take flight. Officials behind Ariston — the development long pitched for 16 acres next door to Gwinnett County’s favorite mall — told the AJC that ground is expected to be broken this month.  Plans call for nearly 300 “Class A luxury apartments,” restaurants and retail space, and a 110-room Hilton Garden Inn.  “Ariston reflects our commitment to creating a pedestrian-friendly community that will encompass luxury apartment living, brand-name hospitality, dining and entertainment immediately adjacent to the dominant retail node in Gwinnett County,” Jon Guven, another principal investor in the project, said in a news release. More Gwinnett news: County changes course, adopts same millage rate as 2018 The project raised eyebrows when it was initially proposed in 2016, and not just because of Jones’ involvement. The original vision was much larger in scale: nearly twice as many apartments, office space, a “family entertainment center,” and a 21-story hotel that would’ve become Gwinnett County’s tallest building. The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners approved a scaled-back version last October but the site has remained quiet since. Pollack Shores Real Estate Group — which built three apartment communities at The Battery Atlanta — has been chosen to develop Ariston’s residential component. A total of 285 apartments are included, the first of which are expected to be available in May 2020.  Officials with Ariston — which is Greek for “the best” —  also announced that the development will have a pedestrian connection to the nearby Ivy Creek Greenway, a popular 3.4-mile trail.  The plans approved last fall call for about 100,000 square feet of commercial uses.  “We look forward to Ariston becoming a community destination that attracts new jobs and investment dollars to Gwinnett County,” Gwinnett Chamber CEO Nick Masino said in a news release. The development will be built on the corner of Mall of Georgia Boulevard and Woodward Crossing.
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  • At least 12 people are believed to be dead and dozens injured after a man set fire to a well-known Kyoto animation studio Thursday, authorities said. >> Read more trending news According to the Mainichi, the man, whose name has not been released but is believed to be in his 40s, poured a flammable liquid and started the blaze at Kyoto Animation about 10:30 a.m. local time. At least 70 people were inside, but most were able to get out of the building, The Associated Press reported. Officials said seven people are confirmed dead and 16 presumed dead, the AP reported. At least 35 people were hurt, with some in critical condition, authorities said. The suspect was hospitalized for injuries, as well, officials told the Mainichi.  A fire official told the AP that as many as 18 people were unaccounted for. The studio has produced popular shows such as 'Lucky Star,' 'K-On!' and 'Sound! Euphonium.' – The Associated Press contributed to this report.