What's New In Washington (Aug)

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The exuberance of a November election victory for Republicans has given way to the difficult reality of passing legislation in a closely divided Senate. While the GOP has made significant gains in the area of regulatory reform and secured a majority on the Supreme Court with the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the first seven months of the Trump administration have not led to the major early legislative successes that both President Trump and Republican legislators had hoped to achieve.

July was a very active month in Congress and for the administration, but Republicans were unable to accomplish one of their chief goals: repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With the Senate Republican version of repeal and replace dramatically failing in the wee hours of the morning by one vote, repeal efforts, at least for the time being, are postponed indefinitely.

GOP lawmakers are expected to pivot after Labor Day to their other top legislative agenda: tax reform. Like health care, there will be a high degree of difficulty. Nevertheless, simplifying the tax system and lowering tax rates will likely be a more natural political act for Republicans than trying to determine the proper role for the federal government in delivering health care.

Amid all of the debate over the ACA in July, the White House saw the dismissal of several senior staff in quick succession, culminating with the President installing former general and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as his new Chief of Staff. General Kelly acted swiftly in his new role by making key personnel decisions and immediately seeking to establish his position as the most senior staffer in the West Wing, in an attempt to streamline command.

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