Washington Update - Dec 1, 2019

Billy Moore    Dc2

Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess with 13 legislative days to fund government, finish negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, pass a Defense authorization and decide whether to impeach President Donald Trump. President Trump will continue to belittle impeachment as he travels to the United Kingdom for meetings with NATO heads of state.

With Congress on recess, the President made his first visit to the troops in Afghanistan last week, where he demanded a ceasefire the Taliban has resisted because it would squander their best leverage.

Appropriations staff have been conducting preliminary talks on the 12 annual bills that are due by December 20. Eight of the 12 are more likely than not to meet the deadline and 3 depend on the House and Senate reaching agreement on spending transfers from the Pentagon to build the border wall. The Homeland Security appropriation that directly funds the border wall is the least likely to achieve bipartisan compromise before the deadline. Congressional leaders have excluded President Trump from the talks, making him a wildcard.

USMCA negotiators say a final agreement is possible this week, probably resulting in a congressional vote early next year. Defense authorization conferees are also within striking range of a final accord.

One bipartisan compromise on the House floor this week would require phone companies to block robocalls without charging extra fees to consumers.

The House Intelligence Committee will release its impeachment investigation report Tuesday and the House Judiciary Committee will hold its first public hearing on impeaching President Trump Wednesday. President Trump’s representatives will not participate in the first impeachment hearing. Polling continues to hold steady with small pluralities of voters supporting the impeachment and removal of the President.

President Trump signed legislation supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, creating new uncertainty about a trade deal with China.