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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.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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  • As new legal battles brew over the right to abortion access nationwide, central Floridians are sharing their opinions on recently passed legislation in other states. Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, to send a message to Florida's lawmakers.  Representatives said even though abortion restrictions have not passed the legislature this session in Florida, that doesn't mean it's not going to happen next session.  “Having such an incredible crowd here today reflects the majority of Americans supporting access to an abortion and speaks to lawmakers across the state of Florida that if you try to follow suit with Alabama, Missouri and Georgia, these folks are going to be at your office,” Rep. Anna Eskamani said.
  • A new water park is coming to Kissimmee, and you have the chance to check it out before everyone else does. The 'preview days' for Island H2O Live! which is at the Margaritaville Resort Orlando start on June 5th and last until June 20th. The water park is located just off U.S. 192 on 3230 Inspiration Drive.  During these preview days, you can get $5 off a daily pass or save $20 on an annual pass and get one for $69.99 rather than paying $89.99. Be aware that daily passes must be bought at the water park ticket windows only.  Island H2O Live! has a 'social media' theme that is integrated into the park's attractions. Like the 'Tag Shack' cocktail bar or the 'Hashtag Heights' family tube ride. It also allows you to use unique technology like waterproof wristbands that you can link to an app that allows you to interact with some of the things on certain rides. This new water park has over 20 different experiences for you and your family to check out.  Also, here's a fun fact: its located within walking distance of Sunset Walk, the resort's shopping and entertainment district, so if water parks aren't your thing or you feel like doing a little bit of shopping after taking a swim, you can do that too.  Side note: Since this is a new water park, that means of course they need people to fill up their full time positions. If that sounds interesting, you can go to the job fair on May 28th from 9am to 4pm at the water park. They say they plan to hire on the spot.  Though the preview days have been announced, there is no official start date to when the park opens. If you would like to learn more about it, you can check out the website here:  https://www.islandh2olive.com/
  • As you spend this Memorial Day weekend celebrating with your friends and family, its important to remember that the freedom many of our nation's heroes have fought and died for always comes at a price. Well in honor of the occasion, as you would expect, here are some freebies and deals through Memorial Day that veterans, active duty and retired military members and their families can take advantage of( standard disclaimer: some locations may not be participating, so its important to always contact them ahead of time):  Ace Hardware: While supplies last, you can get a free 8 by 12 inch flag on May 25th.  AAA: Through Tuesday, you can get free tipsy low service.  Apple: They have special offers on their products, including their Apple Care Protection Plans.  Cinemark Theatres: It varies by location, but if you show your military ID, you get a special discount.  Delta Airlines: Military personnel get a free bag check.  Home Depot and Lowe's: Veterans and their families get 10 percent off. Just show your ID  Hooters: Show your military ID on May 27th and you can get free entrees including 10 free boneless wings, Buffalo chicken salad, Hooters Burger or a Buffalo Chicken sandwich.  Longhorn Steakhouse: Check out the coupon below to get a free appetizer or dessert when you get an entree through May 26th.  https://www.longhornsteakhouse.com/customer-service/coupons/free-app-or-dessert-with-2-entrees-lh74-052319?cmpid=br:lh_ag:ie_ch:eml_ca:LHQ419L52COUP_dt:20190523_vs:1NV_in:Specials_pl:image01_FreeApp_rd:9bc86910b47843f7a15abeafd3d66e28  Sea World and Busch Gardens: The Waves of Honor program gives free entry to military families and members with their ID through December 31st. TGI Fridays: Check out the coupon to a free entree when you buy one and two drinks from May 25-27.  https://share.rivet.works/fridays
  • An ex-Magic Kingdom worker from Clermont has been arrested, accused of trying to set up a sexual encounter with an 8 year old girl.  According to the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Frederick M. Pohl Jr.  sent inappropriate pictures of himself to what he believed was the 8 year old girl and talked online with her and her father in order to arrange a meeting. When he arrived at an Orlando hotel that they were supposed to meet at, Pohl was arrested by an undercover federal agent who was the one posing as the girl he was talking to.  According to the submitted criminal complaint, Pohl was in possession of condoms and a child sized pink dress. While the Middle District did confirm that he was an employee at the Magic Kingdom, they did not say what his role was.

Washington Insider

  • With June 4, 2019 marking the 100th anniversary of the approval by Congress of a constitutional change which guaranteed women the ability to vote in the United States, a look back at the final debates in the House and Senate showcased dire predictions that giving women the franchise would bring a rush to socialism in American and spur racial problems in the South. 'It will not only add to the growth of socialism, but will likewise contribute to the upbuilding of femininism and Bolshevism in America,' thundered Rep. Frank Clark, a Florida Democrat who bitterly opposed the women's suffrage amendment. 'Every Socialist and every Bolshevist throughout the land wherever you find him is an ardent advocate of woman suffrage, and he wants it by Federal amendment,' Clark said on the House floor, as he also warned the change would stir racial troubles in the South.  'Make this amendment a part of the Federal Constitution and the negro women of the Southern States, under the tutelage of the fast-growing socialistic element of our common country, will become fanatical on the subject of voting and will reawaken in the negro men an intense and not easily quenched desire to again become a political factor,' said Clark, who led opposition to the constitutional change. While Clark's arguments did not sway the debate, there were clear sectional differences, as the House voted 304-90 in favor of the proposed constitutional change to allow women to vote. As debate concluded in the House on May 21, 1919, supporters said it was simply time for women to be allowed to vote in every state of the Union. 'I want to congratulate the good women who fought the good fight all these years, and who now see the dawn of the day of final victory,' said Rep. Frank Mondell, the House Republican Leader from Wyoming, a state which allowed women to vote when it was still a territory. 'When I came here the voice of the suffragist was like that of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness,' said former House Speaker 'Champ' Clark, a Democrat from Missouri. 'I think my wife and my daughter are as capable of voting as most men in this country are,' the Democratic Leader said to applause. But for others, what would ultimately become the 19th Amendment - referred to in debate as the 'Susan B. Anthony Amendment' - was not something to celebrate, as many southern lawmakers eyed the effort with derision and suspicion, with the Civil War, Reconstruction, and states' rights bubbling in the political background. 'Is suffrage such a question as should be snatched from the control of the States and lodged in a rapidly centralizing government?' asked Rep. Eugene Black, a Democrat from Texas, as a number of lawmakers in both parties said the individual states should decide who votes, and who does not. 'Under the fifteenth amendment, not only the negro, for whom it was adopted, but the sons of every other race under the sun may vote in any State in the Union, provided they or their ancestors have once been naturalized,' argued Rep. Rufus Hardy, a Democrat from Texas. 'What evils may yet come of the fifteenth amendment only the future may unfold,' Hardy said, as he drew applause in advocating states' rights, and denouncing federal decisions about who could vote. 'It is a privilege to be granted or withheld at the pleasure of the States,' said Rep. Clark of Florida. But some urged southern lawmakers to reconsider, asking the 'gentlemen of Dixie' to give their mothers a chance to vote for them. Several weeks later, as the Senate vote on the 19th amendment approached in early June, the debate became more testy - more focused on race - and the right of states to determine who can vote. 'When it says that there shall be no restriction of the suffrage on account of sex, it means the female sex, and means the millions upon millions of Negro women in the South,' said Sen. Ellison Smith, a Democrat from South Carolina. The argument from southern Senators was simple - the states should decide who votes, not the federal government.  It was a preview of the battles to come during the Civil Rights era. 'Mr. President, it is not a question today as to whether the women of American should have the right to vote,' said Sen. Oscar Underwood, a Democrat from Alabama.  “It is a question of whether, in the end, our Government shall live.” Supporters of the amendment openly acknowledged that black women in the South probably would not be allowed to vote by southern states - precisely in the same way that hurdles had been placed in the way of black Americans voting in the states of the former Confederacy - a charge that left southern Senators like Smith aggravated. 'I have heard it flippantly remarked by those who propose to vote for this amendment, 'You found a way to keep the Negro man from voting and you will find away to keep the unworthy Negro woman from voting,' Smith said on the Senate floor, as he denounced how the South had been 'deluged by an alien and unfit race.' “You went specifically after the Negro men in the fifteenth amendment,” Smith said in Senate debate.  “Now you go specifically after the Negro and white women in this amendment.” On the floor, Smith and other opponents of the amendment pushed back hard on the race question, as Senators sparred over old wounds and scars left by the Fifteenth Amendment and Reconstruction. 'Those of us from the South, where the preponderance of the Negro vote jeopardized our civilization, have maintained that the fifteenth amendment was a crime against our civilization,' Smith said. 'The Senator knows full well that the fifteenth amendment embodied the color question,' said Sen. Irvine Lenroot, a Republican from Wisconsin, 'the Senator knows just as well that there is no color question at all embodied in this amendment. It relates only to sex.' 'The discussion here upon the floor yesterday makes it perfectly apparent that in part at least, in a certain section of this country, this proposed amendment will be a dead letter,' acknowledged Sen. James Wadsworth, a Republican from New York. Wadsworth and others were proven correct, as it took many years for black Americans to get around the poll tax and other means of stopping them from voting. “Oh, the white man votes because you are careful to apply tests which do not apply to the white man,' Senator William Borah, a Republican of Idaho, said to Senators from the South. 'You pick out those tests which exclude the Negro and write them into your law, and that excludes the Negro.' In an exchange with Senator John Williams, a Mississippi Democrat, Borah said, “the Negro does not vote (in the South) because he is black. That is the only crime which he has committed.” Just before the final vote in the Senate, Democrat Edward Gay of Louisiana rose on the Senate floor, making one last call to allow the states to have the final say on whether women should vote. 'I predict that there are 13 States that will never ratify the amendment which the Congress of the United State is about to present to the American people,' Gay said. Gay was wrong, as the amendment was ratified 14 months later in August of 1920. But it took years for many southern states to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution: + Virginia - February 21, 1952 + Alabama - September 8, 1953 + Florida - May 13, 1969 + South Carolina - July 1, 1969 + Georgia - February 20, 1970 + Louisiana - June 11, 1970 + North Carolina - May 6, 1971 + Mississippi - March 22, 1984