The spending bill has been signed into law. Congress is on recess for the holiday week, but when they return to the Hill, they'll need to deal with a big issue that wasn't really addressed in the Omnibus: immigration. As The New York Times' Michael Shear tells us, both parties plan to use the hot-button issue as they gear up for 2018 midterm elections.
"The Democrats are going to try to take the issue of DACA and win elections with that," Shear explains. "On the Republican side, they're turning to sanctuary cities and hoping that the issue can play for them as well. Both sides are basically turning into an electoral strategy now that the legislative one has failed."
While both parties are gearing up for the midterms, there is still a very real focus on the special elections that are happening as members announce that they won't seek re-election. One of those races is for Congressman Trent Frank's district. You may remember his seat is now open after he resigned following a surrogacy scandal with one of his staffers. Time's Molly Ball breaks down the Arizona special election and why it has Republicans a bit worried.
"This is a district that Trump won by 20 points. It should not be in play. The special election is April 24th. And the Republicans did get their favorite candidate through the primary. They have now reportedly spent nearly $300,000 in this district, signaling that they may actually be feeling the heat. The Democrats didn't expect this to be competitive at all, but who knows? And the other issue is that, having spent more than $10 million in the Pennsylvania election, they are burning through cash in a year donors are not super excited."
3) Sen. McConnell's judicial motivations
Congress got its big spending bill through the halls of the Capitol. That might be it for its big legislative push, before a very busy midterms season. But personnel agenda items are filling the Senate Majority Leader's to-do list. CNN's Phil Mattingly reports on McConnell's judicial push.
"Last year, he had 12 circuit judges moved through, the most in recent history. He has 29 judicial confirmations already this year, he's got three more district court judges queued up when they get back. The reality is McConnell and I'm told White House counsel Don McGahn are extremely close, and have been working through this project for the last 14 months to really map out how to remake the courts," Matttingly says. "Legislation might be done. Judges, just starting."
4) GOP's tax plan ploy
Republicans know the tax plan actually helped how voters view them. So President Trump and Congressional Republicans are trying a take two, of sorts, when it comes to tax reform. Politico's Rachael Bade tells us about their 2018 strategy.
"President Donald Trump and the Republicans on the hill are going to be talking about a tax reform 2.0 to make individual cuts that they passed temporarily permanent. Surprise, it's, again, a campaign ploy. Democrats back in December, when they were voting against these tax cuts said specifically, 'We are opposing these because the individual rates are not made permanent but the corporate rates are,'" Bade tells CNN. "Right now Republicans don't think they're gonna actually pass this, but they want Democrats to vote 'no' on this so they can use it as a campaign strategy against them."
5) 2020 spotlight on South Carolina
South Carolina's Democratic party will be picking its keynote speakers for an annual dinner and convention that's happening later this month. CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson tells us the pick is likely to have national street cred and the gig comes with a 2020 presidential spotlight, given the key location.
"A few names have been floating around as possibilities among the chattering classes in South Carolina. They include California Congressman Adam Schiff, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, all of whom have recently spent some time in the Palmetto state. I'm told that bigger names like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Joe Biden are unlikely to fill the keynote slot, though there was great interest particularly in Senator Harris," Henderson reports. "Organizers want someone who can excite and rally the base in 2018 and those keynote speakers, whoever they end up being, will get to dip their toes in the 2020 waters and boost their profiles with voters in a very crucial 2020 state."