While much of America wasn’t looking, President Trump and Congress actually have been getting some work done together.
Congress passed three significant bills before the Memorial Day recess that Mr. Trump has signed or will sign into law in coming weeks, including a partial rollback of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial industry regulations, a move that supporters — including many Democrats — say will spur lending by small banks in small towns nationwide.
As he signed the regulation-cutting measure late last week, the president said lawmakers are bucking the tradition of legislative loafing in a midterm election year.
“For a Congress that they say, you know, won’t be doing much because we have an election coming up, I think we’re doing an awful lot,” Mr. Trump said. “I think we’re doing more than any Congress in a long time.”
Andrew Busch, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California, agreed there has been “a flurry of legislative activity recently,” including the Dodd-Frank overhaul, legislation to reform Veterans Affairs services and a “right to try” measure allowing terminal patients access to drugs that haven’t received final approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the Washington Times reports.
“As a general rule, it is often more difficult to pass bills in election years, midterm or presidential, because both sides are afraid of letting the other side gain good publicity,” Mr. Busch said. “However, it really depends on the balance of power in Congress, how each party perceives its electoral interests and the nature of the issue.”
The numbers back up the president. Mr. Trump has signed 57 laws so far this year, compared with 34 by President Obama at the same point in the midterm year of 2014, when Mr. Obama was contending with a House Republican majority. In April of that year, Mr. Obama complained it was “the least productive Congress in modern history.”
In the midterm year of 2010, when Mr. Obama was working with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, he had signed 46 bills into law by Memorial Day.
Mr. Busch said very little happened in 2014 because control of Congress was divided “and there was general gridlock.”
“On the other hand, 2010 saw the passage of Obamacare because Democrats had sufficient numbers in both houses to push it through, and politically they were afraid — probably wrongly — of the electoral consequences of coming up empty,” he said.
Although Congress hasn’t passed any legislation this year as important as the tax cuts that were approved in December, the recent bills aren’t all about renaming post offices. The Dodd-Frank rollback, the VA measure and the “right to try” legislation each address campaign promises made by Mr. Trump.
And none received much media coverage in a week dominated by the president’s on-again, off-again summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the revelation of an FBI informant in the Trump presidential campaign in 2016 — a story promoted relentlessly by the president himself as he continues to fight back against special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running investigation.
“Often with all that’s going on internationally, and some of the coverage of continuing investigations, perhaps palace intrigue, there’s a lack of focus on all that’s actually getting accomplished legislatively,” said Marc Short, director of legislative affairs at the White House. “I think we’ll look back on this Congress as being incredibly productive.”
In addition to legislative wins, Republicans are pointing to other actions likely to appeal to their base:
⦁ A record-breaking string of confirmations of conservative judges to federal appeals courts.
⦁ Executive action by Mr. Trump to reverse decades of federal funding for family-planning clinics that offer abortions.
⦁ The opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
⦁ The withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
⦁ The issuance of new orders Friday to reform civil service rules to speed termination of poor-performing government workers.
⦁ Mr. Trump’s win on NFL policy last week that will bar players from protesting the national anthem on the sidelines.
There are other victories, such as the successful confirmation battles of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
May 29th, 2018