Egypt to the White House, China to Mar-A-Lago, Gorsuch to a Nuclear Showdown
- THE BIG EVENT: President Trump meets Thursday and Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-A-Lago, a summit that Trump tweeted he expects to be “very difficult,” focused on jobs and the trade deficit. It could make for an awkward meeting; during the campaign, Trump accused China of “rape” of the U.S. economy and of currency manipulation, a charge on which he has gone silent since being inaugurated.
- NO SMALL THING: Before China gets its welcome, President Trump will play host to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the military ruler of Egypt, who helped lead the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in 2013 and subsequently took the title of President in an election in which he claimed 97 percent of the vote. Sisi, according to Politico, is “reviled by activists for what they call the harshest political repression in Egypt’s history” (and that includes the Pharaohs).
- Caution, Nukes Ahead: The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Monday on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the full Senate will vote by Friday. Though at least three Democratic Senators have vowed to support him, Republicans still are five short of the 60 votes they would need to defeat a Democratic filibuster. Which means they could invoke the nuclear option — changing the rules to require only a majority vote to approve Supreme Court candidates. Both sides say they aren’t backing down, although a few Senators are trying to keep the breach from happening.
- Border security is a big topic this week, with the Senate Homeland Security Committee convening two hearings, Tuesday on “Fencing Along the Southwest Border” and Wednesday on “Improving Border Security and Public Safety,” featuring Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. The think tanks also get into the act, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday discussing “Border Security, Threats and the Fight Against Terrorism Worldwide” and the New America Foundation on Thursday mulling “Does the Travel Ban Really Protect American Security?”
- What do you get a new president to celebrate his 100th day in office? How about a government shutdown? There are just eight legislative days for the House of Representatives (10 for the Senate) before the current spending extension expires on April 28, meaning President Trump’s 100th day on April 29th could be the first day of a government blackout. House Speaker Paul Ryan promised “we’re not going to have a government shutdown,” but to avoid that Republicans will have to keep controversial measures – defunding Planned Parenthood and paying for the border wall – out of the short-term bill, which will extend financing through Sept. 30.
- Russia is apparently never going to be far from the spotlight, at least through the first year of this president’s term. While House and Senate Intelligence Committee members are getting their peeks this week at those documents that purport to show that Trump associates were picked up in monitored communications, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday will be examining whether it has any allies in the fight against Russia, at a hearing titled “The European Union as a Partner Against Russian Aggression: Sanctions, Security, Democratic Institutions and the Way Forward.”
- Jeb Hensarling doesn’t like regulation. This week the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee will take on two of his biggest foes: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Reserve. On Tuesday, the Monetary Policy subcommittee will be “Examining the Federal Reserve’s Mandate and Governance Structure,” just one day before Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo, the country’s top banking regulator, steps down. A potential successor has yet to be named by the Trump Administration.
- The chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rob Cordray, is scheduled to testify on Wednesday about the agency’s semiannual reports for 2016. Overhauling or eliminating the agency is one of the biggest planks in Republicans’ financial deregulation platform. But with the Trump Administration signaling that tax reform is the next big item on its agenda, it is doubtful at best that both the House and the Senate can get together on a financial deregulation package before next year.
- Confirmation of Trump appointees continues to inch along, with two sub-cabinet level nominees to be addressed this week. Potential chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, gets an up-or-down vote by the Senate Banking committee on Tuesday. And on Wednesday the Senate Health Committee gives a hearing to Scott Gottlieb, candidate to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
- Scheduling snafu? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Administration are in the spotlight Tuesday morning, when two different committees examine the agencies at the same time. A panel of the House Judiciary Committee conducts an oversight hearing at 10 a.m., while simultaneously the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examines “Use of Confidential Informants at ATF and DEA.”