A Look Ahead: WTLD

Of late the Kavanaugh nomination has sucked all the political oxygen out of the room and for now I’ve said all I care to say about it. Therefore I have the opportunity to focus on something else. Political predictions are almost as perilous as athletic ones. With that in mind here I go.

A little over a month out from the mid-term elections – really less when you factor in early voting – I am still somewhat reluctant to make a prediction as to who will be in the majority in the next Senate. However in the House I subscribe to the conventional wisdom that the Democrats will be in the majority come January. In any event it is a very real possibility that a lot of Republicans will be coming back to Washington after November 6th as lame ducks and that Donald Trump will be enjoying the last few weeks of a Republican controlled legislative branch. In that case we will have a lot of desperate and/or angry people in both the executive and legislative branches.

Last Friday President Trump signed legislation that funds the government through December 7th. (The fact that December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day has not escaped me. Perhaps without logical reason, I look at it as a bad omen.) This legislation was basically forced on Trump by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan out of politics. Contrary to what I’m certain Trump and his mouthpieces will claim on the campaign trail it did not include funding for his border wall.

This will provide a tremendous choke point for Republicans who are about to lose power to exercise as a leverage tool to get things they and/or Trump want passed. Trump doesn’t care about America and neither will many lame duck Republicans. They will be perfectly willing to shut down the government for what would basically be about a month right during the holidays if they thought it might get them something they wanted and/or to punish those who voted them out (or in the case of the White House into a less powerful position.) Remember it was a lame duck Republican Congress in 2006 that spitefully passed legislation designed to bankrupt the Postal Service.

If the Republicans should lose control of the Senate they know this may well be their last chance to abolish Obamacare. John McCain is no longer in the Senate and his replacement Jon Kyl is sure to vote as he is told to. That means Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski teaming up with the Democratic caucus still leaves the door open for Mike Pence to cast the tie breaking vote and we know which way he will vote.

If the Republicans are losing one or both chambers they realize that with that loss they no longer set the agenda(s) in that body or bodies. Expect a flurry of legislation or omnibus bills with provision “secreted” inside them. Don’t expect some mass defection from Trump until the new Congress takes its seats. Lame ducks in particular will be “playing nice” in hope of an executive branch position or a plum lobbyist assignment dependent at least in part on their White House connections.

I am willing to predict the Republicans losing at least the House. Despite expecting some sort of a blue wave, I still can see various scenarios where the Republicans actually pick up between one and three Senate seats; therefore no prediction on that chamber from me at this point. Trump will know that House investigations are a foregone conclusion and that impeachment is a very real possibility. He will want to put as many loyalists as possible in place (especially federal judges) during that brief interim.

I expect Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be fired on November 7th or very shortly thereafter. We could certainly debate whether that is a good or bad thing. I am far from a Sessions fan but politics is often a case of be careful what you wish for.

I am a city boy and as such know little of varmints; however I know they are most dangerous when they feel trapped. By the way if you haven’t already figured it out WTLD stands for Watch The Lame Duck. I intend to!

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