The State of the Union: What to Expect Next From President Trump and the 115th Congress

Trump As Speechmaker

 

Two weeks ago, in his first State of the Union and his second address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump spoke about what his Administration had accomplished in the eleven months since his first address and set forth his vision for what he expects to accomplish this year. Here at Squire Patton Boggs we decided to take a closer look at the President’s message and provide that analysis to our clients, and our partners here at Meridian as a member of the Meridian Corporate Council. In our analysis, we provided an overview of the coming weeks in Congress as continuous funding for the government and a number of pressing issues continue to face the nation. While many of Trump’s initiatives are domestically focused, they have broad implications for how the United States is viewed globally, either strengthening or weakening the political clout that Trump and Congress will be able to wield for current and future international issues.

As American citizens in the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas are still struggling to mend their livelihoods disrupted by last year’s hurricanes, Congress has yet to reach an agreement on hurricane relief appropriations amid broader discussions about how they will fund the government. Additionally, President Trump has made border security a priority since his campaign race and has asked Congress for billions in new spending to cover the cost of strengthening border enforcement and building a wall on the US-Mexico border. Democrats, who have resisted efforts to fund a wall, are hoping to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, while the Trump White House is working to limit legal immigration. Beyond these negotiations, our report identifies a number of “must-pass” bills in which both parties are likely to attempt to gain leverage, providing an opportunity for a potential clash.

The analysis also provides an overview of the likely political environment at play going into the 2018 mid-term elections. While Republicans are relieved to have passed tax reform some wonder if that will be enough to motivate voters to come out for fall 2018 elections. On the other hand, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on Trump’s sagging approval ratings in order to be competitive in many traditionally red states and districts in order to take back the House of Representatives in 2019.

Finally, our public policy experts at Squire Patton Boggs also provide an overview of the President’s proposed US$1.5 trillion infrastructure spending plan, which is of particular importance to businesses across the globe. Now that President Trump has put a plan on the table, Congress must consider its call for tapping into private sector investment as well as partnering with state and local government in order to leverage federal dollars. However, Trump’s plan also includes cuts to several federal transportation and infrastructure programs, which could leave stakeholders, both public and private, fighting over limited funds.

With the added dynamic of the 2018 mid-terms, the second session of the 115th Congress may prove to be even more divisive and tumultuous than the first. However, we would caution against making the assumption that nothing of consequence will take place as Donald Trump has on occasion exceeded conventional wisdom and expectations.

To read the full analysis, you can access our report here.

Guest post by authors of Squire Patton Boggs’ analysis: Jeff Turner, Managing Partner of Public Policy Practice; and David Schnittger, Senior Policy Advisor.