Washington Update - January 8, 2018

Billy Moore    Dc2

Amid a week that should have sustained President Donald Trump's momentum into 2018, the President spotlighted a gossipy book that threatens to frustrate his forward progress as deadlines bear down on spending, the debt limit, immigration and healthcare. 

President Trump could have focused attention on the conservative goals his Administration advanced last week: expanding offshore oil and gas exploration opportunities, restoring restrictions on marijuana use and suspending aid to Pakistan. Instead, he engaged in a fight with Steve Bannon, his former White House strategist, and Michael Wolff, author of "Fire and Fury," a book detailing stories told by Trump staff (including Bannon) that raise questions about the President's fitness for office.

President Trump and Republican congressional leaders spent the weekend at Camp David hoping to map out a 2018 legislative strategy to restore their momentum and avoid a government shutdown and Treasury bond default. On the immediate horizon is a requirement to fund government by January 19 when current appropriations expire. Success depends on reaching agreement with Democrats on raising topline military and domestic spending caps and extending temporary funding into February to allow time for writing a final omnibus spending bill, which may include a debt limit increase.

A bipartisan deal will likely depend on agreements protecting immigrant youth from deportation and reauthorizing several healthcare programs, including childrens' health insurance – made significantly less expensive after the tax bill's repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate – and made less likely by the President's demand for border wall funding.

Last week, the Senate confirmed John Rood to be Under Secretary of Defense. This week, they hope to confirm four district judges. The House will debate a series of Homeland Security bills.

The economy added 148,000 jobs in December, 2.1 million in 2017, nearly equaling the 2016 total. The President's job approval rose to 39 percent.