The Supremes Take the Stage, and the People Go To the Polls
- Good morning! It’s officially summer, which means that the Supreme Court is in the final week of its term, and with six cases remaining to be announced, there was plenty of midnight oil burning throughout the weekend in the justices’ chambers. Among the issues awaiting a decision are President’s Trump’s ban on people from five majority-Muslim countries entering the U.S.; whether non-union workers at public employee sites still have to pay fees to the unions; and the legality of California regulations at clinics that steer women with unplanned pregnancies away from abortion.
- Immigration, of course, continues to be Topic A in Washington. On Sunday, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. should deport undocumented immigrants “with no Judges or Court Cases,” calling the current system “a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order.” Congress is expected this week to vote on a “compromise” immigration bill, so called because it is an intra-Republican agreement to allow children to be detained with parents and allows for legal status for those who qualify under the 2012 DACA standards.
- Topic A and a Half, as always, remains the investigation into Russian meddlingin the 2016 Presidential election. The Washington Examiner reported Sunday that Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia quipped at a fundraising event that people should “buckle up” for “a wild couple of months” of revelations from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up a resolution directing the Attorney General to provide documents to the committee concerning the investigation surrounding the 2016 election.
- Members of Congress are in town this week, trying to tie up loose ends on budgets for cabinet departments and bringing a few Cabinet Department heads to the Hillon Wednesday for a good going-over. Robert Wilkie, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, faces a nomination hearing; Secretary Ben Carson of Housing and Urban Development gets a House Financial Services oversight hearing; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a budget date with the Senate Appropriations Committee.
- Health care gets a full complement of scrutiny this week on the Hill, as the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday digs in to “Prescription Drug Affordability and Innovation: Addressing Challenges in Today’s Market,” featuring testimony from Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. And on Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee examines “How to Reduce Health Care Costs: Understanding the Cost of Health Care in America.”
- There’s a whole lotta elections going on. Yesterday, it was in one of the U.S.’s most strategic allies, Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory with 53 percent of the vote, meaning he would avoid a runoff. There will be no shortage of analysis about the implications, beginning with Monday’s session at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy on “Turkey’s Historic Election: What to Expect Next?,” followed by Tuesday’s Bipartisan Policy Center event, “Is There Reason To Hope? Turkey After the 2018 Elections,” and the Wilson Center’s “Ground Truth Briefing: Elections in Turkey: The Results and the Ramifications.” On Wednesday it’s “Who Won Turkey? Implications From Erdogan’s Snap Elections,” at the Brookings Institution and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ “Results of Erdogan’s Snap Election Gambit: Implications for U.S. Turkey Relations.”
- Next Sunday, the people will go the polls in Mexico to elect a president to succeed Enrique Pena Nieto, whose corruption-laced government has all but ensured that the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as PRI, will be defeated. The left-wing front-runner, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, is ahead in the polls by at least 10 points. But few people are counting out the possibility that Ricardo Anaya of the National Action Party (PAN) could pull off a Trump-like upset.
- More elections in our own backyard as well, as five states conduct primariesleading up to the hotly contested midterms in November. Heading to the polls on Tuesday will be voters in Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma and Utah, where former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, once a stern Trump critic, has walked a fine line in recent weeks while campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat after other presidential antagonists, like Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, have gone down to defeat in Republican primaries.
- The sanctity of our own elections has been threatened, intelligence officials have concluded, by interference from foreign powers, particularly Russia. But the way they did it last time is likely not the way they will do it next time. On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary’s subcommittee on crime and terrorism will host a hearing on “Protecting Our Elections: Examining Shell Companies and Virtual Currencies as Avenues for Foreign Interference.”
- Last week, the Trump Administration said it would propose merging the Education and Labor departments, in an attempt both to shrink the size of government and to tie education more closely to work. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday takes a look at the idea, at a hearing “Examining the Administration’s Government-wide Reorganization Plan.”