Midwest warning signs for Democrats?

Congressional Democrats are full of optimism this year, and the short-term midterm outlook is pretty good, but CNN's John King says there are some troubling signs beneath the surface.

Posted: May 7, 2018 9:17 PM
Updated: May 7, 2018 9:17 PM

Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1. Midwest warning signs for Democrats?

Congressional Democrats are full of optimism this year, and the short-term midterm outlook is pretty good, and maybe even great. But CNN's John King says there are some troubling signs beneath the surface.

"They are fools if they don't also recognize longer-term warning signs in white working class and rural America," King reports, after spending a few days last week in Indiana. "It was striking to me how many Republican candidates for local office introduced themselves as former longtime Democrats. It was a flashback to travels across the party-switching South back in the 1990s," King says.

"So when we tell you who won the House and who won the Senate come November, don't forget to take a look deeper down ballot to see if Democrats are improving their long-term prognosis and dealing with their giant bench problem."

2. Another budget fight looms

Congress is just a few months away from another spending fight -- and President Trump told supporters at an event in Cleveland on Saturday that he'll shut down the government if he doesn't get funding for his border wall. Time Magazine's Molly Ball says it's more than an idle threat.

"On the one hand, he sort of cried wolf in this manner many times before," she says.

But many Republicans are spoiling for a fight if they don't get what they want.

"The president is showing that he is well aware of that, and he has been listening to some of the Freedom Caucus members who are still full of angst over the last spending deal that they agreed to."

The current funding bill expires at the end of September.

3. Republican divisions over spending

In the meantime, some Republicans want to re-open the spending bill they already passed. CNN's Phil Mattingly reports that White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney and the number 2 House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, want to use a parliamentary maneuver that could let them eliminate spending without needing any Democratic support. Their plan has the president's support -- but may not have enough votes in Congress.

"They started with a very bold idea, $60 billion in cuts, really attacking that spending bill. That has been pared back in a major way." Mattingly says. Why? "They didn't think they could have the votes to get that through the Republican-led House."

Mattingly says the new number is about $11 billion -- but even that may not have enough support. And, Mattingly reports, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aren't crazy about re-opening the spending bill in the first place.

4. Gina Haspel confirmation fight

President Trump's controversial nominee to run the CIA has her confirmation hearing this week -- and it's still not clear she can get 50 votes. Democrats and a few Republicans are concerned about some of her actions involving Bush-era torture policies.

The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey says it could still go either way. "The White House still thinks it can get some of the Democrats on board, but for President Trump and some of his top officials, having her confirmed would be a big win after the botched nomination of Ronny Jackson," Dawsey says. But the administration sees confirmation as anything but a sure thing.

5. Korean summit preps

President Trump told reporters on Friday that he's picked a time and a place for what would be a historic summit between an American president and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. But he's not ready to share it quite yet.

"He's a master of the slow reveal, as we all know, so we haven't gotten all the details yet," reports Catherine Lucey of the Associated Press. "But he has previously given us some hints. He has suggested an interest in doing it in the de-militarized zone between the Koreas. He's also indicated it could be coming in late May, early June."

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