Shutdown fight is over, but Congress likely still stuck

Posted at 12:47 PM, Feb 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-17 14:47:50-05

Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters will be watching in the week ahead, in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast.

1. Congressional show votes

The shutdown showdown is over but don’t expect a new era of significant legislation passing Congress.

Instead, lawmakers are focused on “political messaging votes,” New York Times reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis said.

“We have both parties trying to stake out their positions and cast votes on the House and Senate floor to kind of message and show the public the contrast,” Davis said. “They are about to turn, in the Senate, to abortion votes. We’re going to see votes about the Green New Deal.” And in the Democratic-controlled House, Davis said to expect votes on gun safety measures.

“Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, are going to try to put themselves on the record in the run-up to a very competitive set of elections,” Davis said.

2. White House not in a compromising mood

And the White House isn’t in any rush to cooperate with Congress to get anything done either.

“There’s been talk for months now about ways in which the President can cooperate with Democrats on issues like infrastructure,” said CNN’s Abby Phillip. “But inside the White House, there’s not a lot of hope that those kinds of things can actually be done. President Trump is coming off of such a big defeat. He hates losing. A lot of people are skeptical that he’ll be willing to meet Democrats in the middle on anything.”

3. Hope springs eternal

CNN’s Phil Mattingly does see one glimmer of hope — in the form of spending bills Congress will have to pass later this year to fund the government in 2020. After the shutdown fiasco, lawmakers may be in more of a mood to get it done and move on.

If they don’t, the US government could face mandatory budget cuts and even a potential default on the debt.

“The next spending battle will have even higher stakes,” Mattingly said. “But there’s a positive note. The spending decks are now cleared. Lawmakers and staff have time and some level of a roadmap, thanks to the agreement just reached, to chart a bipartisan path forward to address the next crisis before it’s an actual crisis.”

Mattingly cautioned it won’t be easy.

“Aides I’m talking to on both sides acknowledge it’s a long, and very, very bumpy path ahead. But there’s a real, if small, window to avoid the paralysis of the last 60 days.”

4. US-North Korea summit approaching

While the talk in Washington has focused on the border wall and the spending bills, the White House is also quietly preparing for Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The President is pretty excited,” said Josh Dawsey from The Washington Post. “This is a president who thought the first one was a ratings bonanza, who loves to talk about all of the supposed concessions he’s gotten. Folks inside the administration have been more skeptical, have asked, ‘what exactly are we doing here, what’s the point of doing this trip again?'”

The summit is scheduled for February 27 and 28 in Hanoi, Vietnam — not coincidentally, a country once at war with the United States but now a key ally.

5. Democrats & the Latino vote

Democratic presidential candidates spent the Presidents’ Day Weekend campaigning across the country, but mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Nevada has gotten less attention, even though it’s the third state to vote next year — but Washington Post reporter Matt Viser said that’s changing.

“Today Elizabeth Warren is there. In two weeks, Kamala Harris is heading there. And that demonstrates a little bit of the outsized presence of Hispanic voters,” Viser said.

“In Nevada, they make up 1 in 5 voters. Florida as well. And this field is interesting in that respect. Julian Castro is a Hispanic candidate himself. Then you have Cory Booker, who speaks Spanish. Beto O’Rourke also speaks Spanish. As the candidates turn toward these states, look for them to start doing things to cater to that community.”