- Washington is no stranger to gridlock, but mounting investigations into President Trump, paired with a House and Senate at odds are taking it to a whole new level.
- Trump rejected working on infrastructure with Democrats this week over frustrations with various probes into his administration.
- Meanwhile the GOP-led Senate would rather confirm judges on their own in lieu of pursuing legislation Democrats pass in the House.
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WASHINGTON – As the Democratic controlled House of Representatives and President Donald Trump continue their back and forth, with the White House stonewalling subpoenas and various committees ramping up investigations, Washington is poised to reach a new level of gridlock for the foreseeable future.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has attempted to quell momentum for impeaching the president, but has also given multiple committees the freedom to conduct investigations and aggressive oversight, leading Trump to retaliate in fits of rage that all but ensure big ticket legislation is shelved until at least after the 2020 election.
Gridlock in Washington is nothing new, but it was on full display this week when House and Senate Democratic leaders trekked to the White House for a discussion on infrastructure legislation only to be berated by Trump, who has several demands before he’ll allow for any movement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described the meeting as a set-up. He said Trump rattled off excuses about why infrastructure cannot be accomplished.
“He is looking for every excuse, whether it was let’s do trade first, or whether it was he’s not going to pay for any funding, or whether, today, that there are investigations going on,” Schumer said. “Hello, there were investigations going on three weeks ago when we met, and he still met with us.”
Trump has accomplished a handful of campaign promises, like tax cuts and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices, and the building of at least some wall along the United States-Mexico border.
But all of those have been accomplished without the need for cooperation from Democrats. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made its way to Trump’s desk through reconciliation when both chambers of Congress were under Republican control, the judicial confirmations are done solely in the Senate, and building the wall is being accomplished through executive power.
Another big agenda item for Trump has been getting his USMCA trade deal through Congress, but Republicans and Democrats alike are in no rush to consider it, with some even thinking it could be dead on arrival.
As a result, Trump is left with few options, exercising his executive powers as much as he can, ensuring the Senate continues to confirm federal judgeships, and staving off mounting investigations from the House.
The Republican Senate and Democratic House are not inclined to work together
Bipartisan work can be done in a divided Congress, but it is rare. The current Democratic House and Republican-led Senate are on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, while House Republicans are in full-defence mode on behalf of Trump.
For instance, a disaster relief package collapsed on Friday after it overwhelmingly passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The $US19.1 billion package fell apart when freshman Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas objected to a unanimous consent request.
Congress is out of session until June, prolonging the chances of the disaster relief making it to the White House for Trump’s signature.
For other legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proudly turned his chamber into a “graveyard” for legislation from Democrats, opting instead to just continue confirming judges at a breakneck pace.
Meanwhile, more and more Democrats are coming out in favour of impeaching Trump by the day.
But Pelosi is still resisting attempts to actually pursue impeachment at all costs, maintaining it would be too divisive and politically dangerous even as momentum grows inside the House Democratic Caucus.
“I do think impeachment is a very divisive place to go in our country,” Pelosi told reporters in a Thursday press conference, noting that there is still a possibility it could become a reality. “But we’re not at that place.”
Whether she can hold off the Democrats growing angry with Trump’s stonewalling of investigations from turning into a mutiny is unclear. But there is still a long way to go until Election Day 2020.
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