Now that the government has opened and the threat of default is off the table, some are wondering what the first shutdown in 17 years was for. A majority of Americans are fed up with Washington — and its leaders. In the shutdown’s aftermath, those leaders are being neatly sorted into two groups: winners and losers.
For President Obama, however, no one won or lost, and there wasn’t any economic rationale for the shutdown, either. “At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back,” he said in a speech from the State Dining Room on Thursday morning. “And for what?”
But there are villains. “Had one side not decided to pursue a strategy of brinksmanship, each side could have gotten together and figured out how do we shape a budget that provides certainty to businesses and people who rely on government, provides certainty to investors and our economy, and we’d be growing faster right now,” Obama said.
That side is House Republicans, and the president is worried they will continue to block legislation for the rest of the year. He pointed to an immigration bill passed by the Senate earlier this year that is awaiting a House vote:
The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do. And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it. Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them. Let’s start the negotiations. But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year or two years or three years. This can and should get done by the end of this year.
And a Senate-approved $500 billion farm bill that has been repeatedly delayed by House Republicans:
Again, the Senate’s already passed a solid bipartisan bill. It’s got support from Democrats and Republicans. It’s sitting in the House waiting for passage. If House Republicans have ideas that they think would improve the farm bill, let’s see them. Let’s negotiate. What are we waiting for? Let’s get this done.
The president’s remarks suggest that Americans haven’t seen the last of Republican-led blocks to legislation in 2013. But Obama wants the House GOP to know it’s on thin ice with the White House. And he’s not alone: A majority of Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown, and the party’s popularity has hit a record low. Moving forward, getting a head start on negotiations — and maybe even budging on some these issues — may not be a bad idea for the Grand Old Party.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."