President Trump Heads Overseas as the House Returns, With Tax Reform and Infrastructure On the Agenda

  • It’s a week of foreign visitors and visits, as three (almost) heads of state visit the White House and President Trump prepares for his first overseas trip. Expect the Comey Incident to continue to draw attention. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said last week he would brief the full Senate on his role – or lack thereof – in the firing, at a date to be determined. On Monday, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan of Abu Dhabi visits the White House.
  • President Trump on Tuesday welcomes to the White House the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom Trump called last month following the passage of a referendum that greatly expanded Erdogan’s powers and which was strongly opposed in the human rights community. On the heels of the White House meeting, the Middle East Institute on Wednesday hosts a discussion on “Tensions in U.S.-Turkish Relations.”
  • Thursday brings the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, to the White House for an official visit. The discussion will include talks about security issues, efforts to fight illegal drugs and organized crime, the implementation of Bogota’s peace accord and efforts to counter what the White House calls “democratic backsliding in Venezuela.”
  • President Trump will embark on his first overseas trip on Friday, a visit to the Middle East with stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel for meetings with the leaders of those countries. The president will also meet with Arab Gulf leaders and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. From Israel, Trump will travel to Rome to meet with Pope Francis, then to Brussels for a NATO meeting and to Sicily for the Group of Seven Summit. On Monday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a press briefing on the president’s trip.
  • Members of the House of Representatives, fresh from being scalded by constituents over their plans to overhaul or replace Obamacare, return to the friendly confines of Capitol Hill on Monday for two weeks of work before breaking for the Memorial Day recess. It will be two weeks packed with hearings, including on Thursday a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss “How Tax Reform Will Grow Our Economy and Create Jobs.” But first, on Monday, the Cato Institute asks the question, “Major Tax Reform in 2017?”
  • It’s Infrastructure Week! After tax reform, infrastructure is the other major topic that the 115th Congress is expected to address. Kicking it off Monday is a Chamber of Commerce Infrastructure Week event. On Tuesday, a panel of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hears about “Leveraging Federal Funding: Innovative Solutions for Infrastructure.” Then on Wednesday, the full committee considers “Improving America’s Transportation Infrastructure: The Road Forward.” Later Wednesday, the Atlantic Council asks the question whether this is “A New Era For Infrastructure?” And Thursday, it’s the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with another in its series on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Improving Water Quality through Integrated Planning.”
  • Other hearings of note this week: On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee hears from Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue on “The State of the Rural Economy,” and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee delves once again into the possibility of privatizing air traffic control at a hearing titled, “The Need to Reform FAA and Air Traffic Control to Build a 21st Century Aviation System for America.” On Thursday, Senate Banking hears from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
  • While some particularly optimistic Democrats believe the uproar over repealing Obamacare gives them a real chance to capture the House in the 2018 midterm elections, in many places the map argues against them, thanks to redistricting efforts of Republicans, who control many state legislatures. On Monday, the Brennan Center for Justice examines both the map-drawing and voting access with “Redistricting and Voting 2017: The Legal Landscape.”
  • Whatever happens when President Trump visits Saudi Arabia and Israel, one nation will be watching closely – Iran, which on Friday will conduct its presidential election. On Tuesday, the Brookings Institution looks at “Elections in Iran: Prospects for Rouhani, Reform and the Nuclear Deal.” At about the same time, the Cato Institute undertakes “Evaluating the Iran Deal.” And on Wednesday, the Hoover Institution hosts “Middle East Strategy Challenges: Egypt, Iran and ISIS.”
  • “The days of coercive federalism are over.” Thus spoke Scott Pruitt, the EPA Administrator, lifting from states the burden of complying with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. On Thursday, Pruitt will give a more expansive view of his thoughts of how the EPA should operate, or not, at the Hoover Institution’s “Returning to ‘EPA Originalism’: A Conversation with Scott Pruitt.”