Washington Update - February 11, 2019

Billy Moore    Dc2

Last week, Congress received President Donald Trump's State of the Union address featuring partisan demands bookended by calls for bipartisanship. As he called for national unity, the President cast Democrats as obstructionists on the border wall and abortion restrictions. President Trump insists bipartisan cooperation is not possible while he is being investigated. The partisan elements of his speech overshadowed both his calls for unity and his economic success.

This week, the President travels to El Paso to underline his border wall arguments. Congressional negotiators plan to release a bipartisan compromise border security plan that provides less than half of the $5.7 billion in wall funding while increasing spending for other security elements, including at Ports of Entry modernization. It is unclear the compromise can win congressional approval and the President's signature. The President could also declare a national emergency to fund the wall from Defense accounts, a move that would immediately face court challenges that risk demonstrating his Administration's weakness.

Last week, the House approved veterans and crime bills as the Senate approved Middle East legislation rebuking the President's plan to withdraw troops from Syria. This week, the House will debate a resolution directing the president to withdraw U.S. armed forces from the conflict in Yemen. Senators will seek to revive the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired September 30. Congress faces a Friday deadline to pass appropriations legislation, including the anticipated border wall compromise, to avoid another shutdown.

Thursday morning, Washington will celebrate the life of John Dingell, a lion of the House of Representatives and its longest serving member. Dingell authored landmark legislation protecting Americans' health, air, water, money and civil rights.

The White House says it won't deliver a fiscal 2020 budget proposal until the week of March 11. Congressional committees, including Armed Services and Appropriations, are not waiting and have begun budget hearings.