Do-Nothing Congress Gets a Few Things Done

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Three quick topics today, all connected to Congress:

  • The House discharge petition on immigration is probably a lot of fuss with little chance of producing a law. Ed Kilgore looks at the big picture, and he’s probably correct: With a veto promised, it’s not even all that likely that Congress will bother trying to make the compromises necessary to get a bill to the president’s desk. Yes, it’s possible that majorities of both the House and the Senate want that compromise. And it’s always possible that President Donald Trump will cave on his demands. But the odds of actually getting legislation passed seem pretty low right now.
  • The do-nothing Congress has actually done a few things. I’ve been overstating the case that congressional Republicans have no legislative agenda. They’ve now passed a financial regulation bill, a veterans bill and a medical bill in the last few weeks. That’s something! Not only that, but they did it by cutting deals, accepting half a loaf, and otherwise behaving like legislators for a change. I’ll leave it to others to judge whether these will be good laws or not, but still, they count as accomplishments for the House and Senate majorities. That said, it’s still been a basically unproductive Congress, with only the tax cut really counting as major legislation, and several flops along the way. And the agenda remains relatively small going forward. But still, I’ve been saying they weren’t going to do anything, and something is more than nothing. 
  • Representative Trey Gowdy shot down Trump’s conspiracy theory about the Russia investigation. Gowdy, the House Republican who spent years on Benghazi, is hardly a moderate. But he’s saying that the FBI acted correctly during the 2016 campaign. That’s not really a surprise; the notion that the FBI improperly spied on the Trump campaign never really made any sense at all (since no one could answer the basic question of why they would have conspired against Trump but then done everything possible to successfully keep it secret until after the election). At any rate, this is a good reminder that no, despite what some Democrats insist, congressional Republicans have not put up a united front defending the president no matter what. Certainly some have, and a lot of them duck the issue most of the time, and it’s fair to criticize them for it to the extent that it’s accurate. But it still remains unknown what will happen in the long run if either Robert Mueller has the goods on Trump in some way or if Trump moves forward to attempt to stop the investigation. Perhaps they’ll ultimately stick with him no matter what — but the fact that some zealots are egging Trump on isn’t conclusive proof about what the rest of them would do in a variety of different scenarios. 

1. Dan Drezner on the pace of the news

2. Seth Masket on Democrats and the NFL. I’m not sure I agree with him. This seems to be one where individual candidates may be able to pick an approach that best suits their districts, which works better if nationally visible Democrats are relatively silent. But he could be correct!

3. Slate’s Fred Kaplan turns relatively optimistic about the North Korea summit

4. McKay Coppins profiles Stephen Miller.

5. And my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Tara Lachapelle on Roseanne and Disney.

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