WASHINGTON — After one of the most consequential weeks of the Trump presidency (the furor over, and then the reversal of, the administration's family separation policy), it's worth a reminder about just how big the stakes are for the midterm elections ...
WASHINGTON — After one of the most consequential weeks of the Trump presidency (the furor over, and then the reversal of, the administration’s family separation policy), it’s worth a reminder about just how big the stakes are for the midterm elections — and which party ultimately controls Congress after November.
Want more oversight of the Trump administration’s policies or maybe a better chance of Congress passing bipartisan immigration reform (after the GOP-led House was unable to clear a conservative bill yesterday)? You’re probably better off with Democrats in charge of the House. (Though Trump tweets this morning, “Elect more Republicans in November and we will pass the finest, fairest and most comprehensive Immigration Bills anywhere in the world.’)
Want more conservative judges, want more enforcement at the border with less oversight, and want to send a message to Trump’s critics that “I really don’t care, do you?” — then you’re better off with Republicans in charge of the House and Senate.
Here’s what’s at stake in November:
Which party controls the all-important investigative and intelligence committees?
In the House of Representatives, will it be Republicans like Reps. John Duncan, R-Tenn., or Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, as the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee? Or will it be Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., holding the gavel? And ditto: Will it be Devin Nunes, R-Calif., staying in charge of the House Intel Committee? Or will it be Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.?
Will Trump filling court vacancies continue at its rapid pace? Or will it come grinding to a halt?
That’s the difference between Republicans retaining control of the Senate and its Judiciary Committee, or Democrats taking control. And that includes any Supreme Court vacancy that might take place after the midterms.
Do Obamacare repeal/replace and immigration reform get easier or harder?
If Republicans hold on to the House and pick up Senate seats, then it’s likely that Obamacare repeal and replace — which fell one vote short in 2017 — could clear the Senate next year. On the other hand, immigration reform, which has stalled in the House (see yesterday), could be more likely if Democrats win the House and Senate, and if President Trump is willing to make a deal. And if he’s not, then that will be on the ballot (again) in 2020.
The outcome of the midterms will also impact the POLITICS of health care and immigration. If Democrats win, then they’ll see health care as a potent issue heading into 2020. And if Republicans win, they’ll be able to thank of the politics of immigration (MS-13, sanctuary cities).
Does the possibility of Trump’s impeachment go up? Or down?
If special counsel Robert Mueller has the goods in his Russia investigation — and that remains an IF — then the likelihood of impeachment goes up if Democrats control the House (and don’t be surprised if Trump and the GOP remind their voters of his possibility as a way to rally the GOP base). On the other hand, if Republicans win in November, it’s really hard to see how a GOP-controlled Congress moves against Trump, even when it comes to oversight of Mueller’s findings. And remember as we saw with Bill Clinton in the 1990s, impeachment is one thing; removal is another…
Does Trump get a primary challenger in 2020 or not?
The midterm results could also influence whether Trump gets a Republican primary challenger. You could argue that Republicans losing control of both the House and Senate could embolden someone — Jeff Flake? John Kasich? Ben Sasse? — to take on Trump in 2020, no matter how quixotic that bid might be. But if Republicans hold on to both chambers, especially as the GOP becomes more loyal to Trump, that could eliminate the discussion of a GOP primary challenger.
And which party holds the upper hand in redistricting?
This where the 2018 gubernatorial contests – and which party controls the governors’ mansions — come into play. Republicans holding on to their governorships, especially in the Midwest, would give them a leg up in the next round of redistricting. But Democrats picking up governorships across the country could fundamentally change the redistricting landscape.
One of the clichés in political journalism is that “elections have consequences.” But the reason it’s a cliché is because it’s true. And it’s especially true for November.
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