Washington Update - May 13, 2024

Billy Moore    Dc2

Controversies in Congress fizzled last week as they grew with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. 

The action in Congress spotlighted the power of the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader. Speaker Mike Johnson, with the support of most Republicans and Democrats, turned aside hardline Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to oust him from the leadership. Greene was able to muster the support of only 10 of her Republican colleagues for the effort. The long-term impact on Johnson’s power is uncertain as his continued support from Democrats and Republicans depends on his future leadership. Tilting too much toward bipartisanship will cost him Republican support; excessive partisanship will cost him with Democrats.

Although 213 Senate amendments were proposed to a Senate aviation reauthorization bill, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer exploited the parliamentary procedure of “filling the amendment tree” to prevent other Senators from bringing amendments to the floor for debate. The bill passed without amendment and is expected to be passed by the House next week to avoid the expiration of civil aviation programs.

On Wednesday, President Biden warned he would hold off offensive weapon shipments to Israel if its military moved to attack Rafah, where Palestinian refugees have fled from Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. The decision has prompted attacks on the President from all sides for his inadequate support of Israel or failure to act more quickly to rein in weapon shipments.

In New York, former President Trump’s trial involving falsifying business records to illegally influence the 2016 election heard from adult film star Stormy Daniels last week and will hear testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen this week. The other criminal prosecutions pending against Trump are unlikely to begin before the November election.

The presidential election is close nationally with Trump holding an advantage in key Electoral College states.