The second session of the 115th Congress begins January 3 of 2018. Given the trials and tribulations of the 1st session of the 115th, what might the next year bring? Frankly, any comments are based upon speculation, but here are a few I think might be on the table.
1. I know this seems nuts to many, but I do think the Trump Administration will initially calm down its rhetoric, if for no other reason then a better staff is in place in the White House. I think they will have some ability to put a minor lid on Trump’s tweets and comments. I expect a little calming down, but not anything near a complete turnaround
2. I believe the DACA issue will get resolved in the Dreamers’ favor, if for no other reason then the polling of Americans by a very large percentage want it so.
3. I predict there will be a lot of discussion and probably movement on a major infrastructure bill. Will one get passed; I’m not sure at this point, primarily because I really don’t know where the money comes from after the tax bill took it all away. But then again, deficit spending concerns seem to have disappeared.
4. Healthcare, both in Iowa and nationally, will continue to be a huge issue. Where resolution will come from in a Republican Congress is anyone’s guess. Some incremental steps may come forward from Susan Collins and others like her, getting some minor changes into law. Whether enough votes can be found for anything bigger is somewhat problematic. All I do know, in Iowa at least, is that there are a bunch of very unhappy folk with the current situation.
5. The 2018 congressional elections will color much of what gets done and doesn’t get done. One poll has the Democrats winning a majority of house seats by 59.1 to 40.9 percent. If that trend continues into the spring, the Republicans will be thinking long and hard about increasing their legislatives accomplishments. What that might entail is anyone’s guess at this moment, but I would think infrastructure and its affirmative impact upon semi-skilled workers might be top of the list. Although Trump is polling only in the high 30’s, his supporters are still a very important voting bloc and higher wage jobs are at the top of their list. Infrastructure spending is the best way to create new and good paying jobs.
6. What we don’t know is if any major foreign policy crisis will erupt. If it does, it might will take all eyes off the domestic issues and focus the voter on international ones. Usually at the beginning of a foreign affairs crisis, there is a reluctance to change course. That becomes a wholly different issue if we are into a few years of a foreign policy quagmire i.e. Vietnam with Nixon or Bush II with Iraq.
7. Another issue is what the Democrats will do in response to Republican initiatives.
8. Will they be obstructionist, conciliatory, or just sit it out, and what are the political implications of whatever they do for the 2018 fall elections?
Number 8 is one of those issues that put the others in the “all bets are off” category. There is the possibility that the Mueller investigation has more legs then a black widow spider and is just as dangerous to the Trump presidency. If that becomes the case, it may be the biggest and possibly the only thing the Congress deals with in the second session of the 115th.
2018 and maybe on into 2019 is beginning to look, taste and feel like 1973/1974. If you are too young to remember those years, Google “Watergate.”
Happy New Year.
by Dick Goodson