Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters will be watching for in the week ahead in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast.
1. A looming government shutdown?
Impeachment may be taking center stage on Capitol Hill, but Congress has a full plate of other issues it needs to address in the coming weeks.
Funding to keep the government open runs out on November 21, and as AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace notes, neither party is particularly enthusiastic about a potential government shutdown.
“President (Donald) Trump has kind of kept open this possibility of having a shutdown, but realistically there is very little appetite on Capitol Hill from Republicans or Democrats to have a government shutdown right now,” Pace says. “The big question, though, is how do they get out of it.”
The likeliest solution is a short-term fix designed to kick the can down the road, but Pace points out that could present Congress with a “pick your poison” situation.
“Do you do it in the end of the year, when we are still dealing with impeachment?” Pace asks. “Or do you try to push this deeper into next year, in the middle of the presidential election?”
2. DACA at the Supreme Court
The case in question has to do with Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to shield young undocumented immigrations from deportation. The New York Times White House Correspondent Michael Shear says how the high court rules could ultimately hinge on one critical factor.
“The President ended it saying it was unconstitutional,” Shear says. “The question, though, for the Court was whether the President didn’t give a legitimate policy reason — not a legal reason, but a policy reason — to end the program.”
Lower courts have ruled that he did not, and legal experts tell Shear that could be an Achilles heel for the government on one of Trump’s key issues.
“If the Supreme Court justices agree,” Shear says, “that could be one of the biggest defeats that the President has had” in court.
3. Buttigieg’s hometown plan to boost minority support
Private tensions between Democratic presidential campaigns are beginning to spill out into the open.
At issue is the question of minority support, and whether any candidate can win the nomination without it. CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip reports that campaigns are aiming their frustrations at one candidate in particular — South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“He’s been polling in the lower single digits among African American voters in particular,” Phillip said, “and I’m told from campaign aides they’re planning to roll out some surrogates from his hometown of South Bend — African American surrogates who can vouch for him among the black community, to get ahead of the line of attack from the other campaigns.”
Whether or not that strategy works, however, Phillip says discussions around minority support are going to continue to be a major issue as the primary campaign moves forward.
“Many of these campaigns — (California Sen. Kamala) Harris and (New Jersey Sen. Cory) Booker and (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián) Castro — are trying to get the attention of the media,” Phillip added, “saying you can’t treat certain people like frontrunners if they’re not doing well among minority voters.”
4. Could DC courts protect the whistleblower?
Trump and congressional Republicans have made the identity of the anonymous whistleblower a key part of their defense strategy as the impeachment inquiry rolls on.
With that effort likely to intensify in coming days, Daily Beast Washington Bureau Chief Jackie Kucinich decided to contact the Government Accountability Office to see if the whistleblower could do anything to protect themselves.
“The answer was, not by the federal whistleblower law,” Kucinich said. “But DC is one of the few jurisdictions where they could seek relief from this effort to out them.”
Kucinich said that the whistleblower could file a First Amendment lawsuit in District Court, which could grant them a temporary restraining order against anyone trying to reveal their identity.
“There is no indication this has happened,” Kucinich cautioned, “but it’s noteworthy given how high the stakes are.”
5. Lessons from last week’s election
From CNN Chief National Correspondent John King:
How the impeachment process impacts the 2020 presidential election climate is one of Washington’s big mysteries. As we wait to find out, there were important non-impeachment warning signs this week to Trump and his reelection team.
One was the latest evidence of the suburban revolt against Trumpism. In the Philadelphia suburbs, for example, Democrats made giant gains in local races — a reminder it will be tough for the President to hold Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes come 2020.
Elections in Virginia and Kentucky also had evidence of the suburban revolt against the GOP, which was also a major factor in the big 2018 Democratic gains.
“Americans are energized for the coming election like we’ve never seen before,” was this past week’s biggest lesson for a leading GOP pollster, citing significant turnout. Because of the suburban shift, this pollster said, “it reinforces to me that win or lose, Trump will lose the popular vote, and it’s likely to be wider than 2016.”
Still, while narrow, battleground state polling does show a path for the President to win reelection.
His struggles in the suburbs make recreating the 2016 map, or something close to it, difficult.
That task becomes even tougher — in Pennsylvania and other key Trump 2016 states — if the President also faces stress in rural areas. New Kaiser polling released last week highlighted that challenge.
In Pennsylvania, 50% said their family had been hurt by tariffs, only 13% said they had been helped.
In Wisconsin it was 48% hurt, 14% help. Michigan broke down this way: 41% said tariffs hurt, while 14% said they helped the family’s bottom line.
Speaking to reporters Saturday, Trump said trade talks with China are proceeding “nicely.” And, as he has in the past, the President suggested he had the leverage in the talks.
“They want to make the deal much more than I do,” he said.
China, though, doesn’t have real elections. Nor does it have an Electoral College.
This from the President’s Saturday remarks about the China talks is telling: “They’re moving along slowly. Much too slowly for me.”