Washington Update - Jan 12, 2020

Billy Moore    Dc2

Diplomacy prevailed last week as President Donald Trump and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei chose to defuse their military confrontation, at least temporarily. Future tensions are almost certain to rise as Iraqis seek the departure of American troops from their country and the Iranian government unshackles its nuclear ambitions.

Congressional tensions will rise as the House prepares to present the Senate with the articles impeaching President Trump that were approved in December. The Senate plans to try the charges under procedures approved for the 1999 trial of Bill Clinton: a multi-day prosecution by the House, an equal amount of time for the White House defense followed by Senators’ questions. At that point, the Senate would vote on hearing witnesses – which seems more likely than not. At that point, the apparently inevitable would occur: a vote not to remove Donald Trump as President.

While the Senate awaits the impeachment trial, it will continue to confirm presidential nominees, as it did last week. The House approved legislation to regulate water pollution by PFAS chemicals and to require the President to cease military action against Iran unless authorized by Congress or in response to an imminent threat. Neither initiative has a clear path to Senate passage. This week, the House will debate age discrimination legislation and disapprove a Department of Education rule making it more difficult for federal student loan borrowers to cancel their debt based on a college’s misconduct.

The U.S. and China are slated to sign the phase one trade agreement on Wednesday. If the impeachment trial is delayed, the Senate could take up House-passed legislation implementing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

The economy capped a decade of job growth by adding 2.11 million jobs in 2019, a deceleration from 2018’s gain of 2.68 million and 2.24 million jobs during President Obama’s final year.