Washington Update - Feb 9, 2020

Billy Moore    Dc2

President Donald Trump had a big week: he was acquitted by the Senate, got an excellent jobs report, owned the spotlight of the State of the Union and while his approval rating average stayed steady. As the nation enters the 2020 election cycle, his incumbency and the economy should make him an overwhelming favorite for reelection. Yet, his odds are weaker than those factors would suggest, with his approval ratings an average of 6 or 8 points in the negative – and approval ratings are one of the best predictors of presidential election outcomes, although not the only one.

Demonstrating the limitations on his ability to grow his support, the President narrowed the benefits of his good news last week with unrelenting, sometimes unsubstantiated, attacks on his enemies. Still, there are nearly nine months of campaigning ahead, creating new opportunities for President Trump and his Democratic opponents to rise and fall.

Iowa Democrats collapsed last week, flubbing their role of narrowing the field of Democratic presidential candidates by failing to quickly and accurately count caucus votes. New Hampshire Democrats will seek to redeem their role on Tuesday.

The Senate acquitted President Trump last Wednesday and adjourned for the week. Senators will return to their familiar role of confirming judges this week, and could debate House amendments to their resolution directing the President to withdraw military forces from hostilities against Iran.

The House passed labor law reform legislation last week and an emergency supplemental appropriations bill for Puerto Rico. President Trump opposes both, limiting their Senate potential. This week, Representatives will pass legislation removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and wilderness legislation.

President Trump will kick off the fiscal 2021 appropriations process by submitting his budget proposal.

Employment grew by 225,000 jobs in December as the unemployment rate rose to 3.6 percent.