- President Donald Trump returned home from a 12-day trip to Asia to a White House and Republican party embroiled in multiple scandals.
- The Republicans are staring down the barrel of losing a crucial Senate seat in Alabama, which should be a GOP stronghold.
- Trump campaign members face renewed scrutiny over their contacts with Russia.
- The Republican tax plan will need the Democrats blessing to avoid massive spending cuts to programs like Medicare and Border Patrol.
President Donald Trump has returned home after a 12-day marathon trip across Asia to a White House, and a Republican party, struggling to put out several fires at once.
Republican Alabama Senator Roy Moore, whose reelection campaign has been clouded by five allegations of sexual misconduct, some of them with minors, have the party’s leadership fretting over losing a seat in a deep red state and desperate for answers.
“He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate,” Senate Majority Leader McConnell told reporters, according to Reuters, “and we’ve looked at all the options to try and prevent that from happening.”
One such option, according to McConnell, would require Trump’s Attorney General, former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, to step down and run as a write-in candidate.
“He fits the mould of somebody who might be able to pull off a write-in,” said McConnell.
Sessions is busy getting grilled by Congress
But Sessions also came under fire before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, where he repeatedly had to defend himself after new revelations in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.
Sessions blamed sleep deprivation, the “chaos” of the Trump campaign, and his own poor memory for failing to disclose meetings where a young campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pitched a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump campaign getting grilled over Russia connections
Even closer to home for Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. became the subject of media attention when The Atlantic published messages between Trump Jr. and Wikileaks, the Russian-linked agency that dogged the Hillary Clinton campaign with wave after wave of damning leaked and pilfered emails.
Though inconclusive to suggest an arrangement between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, the episode reopened questions into the Trumps’ collaboration with shady organisations and Russia.
Trump’s tax reform hanging by a thread
Even bigger than Trump, the biggest Republican legislative push, tax reform, has hit a setback. A letter from the Congressional Budget Office pointed out that if a handful of Democrats don’t vote to waive a statute that requires tax cuts and other types of legislation to pay for themselves, deep cuts in funding to programs like Medicaid and Border Patrol will follow.
Because the Republican tax plan is expected to raise the deficit by $US1.5 trillion over 10 years, the current statute would require $US150 billion in cuts to the budget each year. The 52 Senate Republicans would need 60 votes to waive the statute.
The reliance on Democratic support for a conservative tax plan imperils the second major legislative push since the 2016 election ushered in GOP control of Congress and the executive branch.
The first push, a conservative attempt to undo Obamacare, failed spectacularly when Republican Senator John McCain voted against it in the 11th hour.
Failing again would leave Trump with no major reforms accomplished in nearly a year in office, and become a talking point in the looming 2018 midterm elections where Democrats could win back the legislature.
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