Monday, September 9, 2019

Guns, Impeachment Push, Border Wall: What's In Store As Congress Returns From Recess

As Congress heads back to work on Monday in Washington after a six-week recess, lawmakers who already have struggled to pass substantive legislation this term are set to grapple with a slew of combustible issues, ranging from trade deals and border wall funding to gun control and impeachment proceedings.
With an already heated presidential cycle in full swing, experts have said the political landscape would afford little hope for legislative compromise, but plenty of opportunity for gamesmanship and stonewalling. To top it all off, lawmakers also need to fund the government by Oct. 1 to avert another shutdown, despite deep-seated disagreements on appropriate budget levels for the State Department, the Pentagon, and other key agencies.
"It's a really tough environment for lawmaking," Sarah Binder, a political-science professor at George Washington University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Fox News. "First, the parties are surely more ideologically polarized from each other than they were decades ago. Second, there's more sheer partisanship in town than before-- tit for tat, your team is for it, so my team is against it. Third, close electoral competition narrows the window for dealmaking -- each election offers each party a chance to hold or gain control. ... [And,] because the president is so unpopular nationally and with independents, there's limited pressure on Democrats to resolve problems."
"Parties may have an incentive periodically to show voters that they can govern," Binder added. "But as often they disagree about what the problems are, their base rewards them for inaction, and they are better off blaming the other side for gridlock than negotiating solutions."
In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, President Trump seemingly dismissed the need for any bargaining at all on his border wall, which he said was being built already "on an expedited basis."
Last week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed off on spending $3.6 billion in Defense Department construction funds for 175 miles of wall on the southern border with Mexico. Lower courts had frozen use of the money while a lawsuit proceeded. Last month, however, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the use of about $2.5 billion.
"We'll have, by the end of next year, close to 500 miles of wall. We're taking money from all over, because as you know, the Democrats don't want us to build the wall," Trump said. "They're fighting us at every step, but our military has stepped up, and they're doing a fantastic job."
The decision to redirect funding could prompt many Democrats to try reining in future repurposing efforts in the new congressional session. Some courts have suggested that if Congress wanted to stop Trump from repurposing funds for the border wall, it could do so -- with legislation.
But, there's "not a lot of incentive" for House Democrats to "play along" and pass meaningful bills, given that Republicans and the White House would "take credit" for them, Northern Illinois University political science professor Scot Schraufnagel told the CQ Roll Call podcast this week.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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