TenCount -> To the polls! – Meeting Rocket Man

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TenCount -> To the polls! – Meeting Rocket Man

A highly selective view of events in the week ahead with important financial, legislative and political implications, put together by your friends at Sphere Consulting.

  • To the polls! In yet-another foreshadowing that something significant will (or won’t) be happening come to the fall midterms, Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District on Tuesday conducts a special election to fill its seat in Congress.  The Republican candidate, State Legislator Rick Saccone, appears poised to beat the Democrat challenger, Conor Lamb, not least because Republicans have spent $9 million to defend a district President Trump won by 20 points. But it will be the size of the victory that matters, in a district that might not even be around come November, thanks to court-ordered redistricting.
  • President Trump shocked advisors and allies alike last week by saying he wants to meet Rocket Man, the North Korean leader known informally as Kim Jong Un. This week brings multiple opportunities to mull over the implications. On Tuesday, Brookings hosts “Thinking the Unthinkable: War on the Korean Peninsula,” while on Thursday the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies mulls “The DPRK’s Political and Military Changes and Future Prospects Under Kim Jong Un.”
  • Congress reached a $1.3 trillion budget agreement last month, but it still hasn’t passed legislation to fund such a deal, and it has only until March 23 to do so to avoid another government shutdown. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said he hopes to get a vote on such a bill this week, but first legislators need to resolve differences on matters such as the college endowment tax, border wall funding, and the Gateway tunnel project linking New York City with New Jersey, over which President Trump has threatened to veto any spending bill.
  • With the budget for fiscal 2018 not yet settled, Congress is nevertheless eager to turn its attention to fiscal 2019, scheduling no fewer than eight hearings this week on next year’s budget. Cabinet Secretaries and others from the departments of the Interior (twice), Transportation, the Energy DepartmentVeterans Affairs (twice), Health and Human Services and State Department will troop to Capitol Hill to answer questions.
  • The White House on Sunday abandoned President Trump’s call to raise the minimum age for some gun purchases to 21 from 18 and promised to give “rigorous firearms training” to some schoolteachers. That leaves uncertain the prospect of any substantial reforms coming out of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings. The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up the issue on Wednesday at a hearing titled “See Something, Say Something: Oversight of the Parkland Shooting and Legislative Proposals to Improve School Safety.”
  • Five Cabinet Secretaries will testify on Wednesday at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on “Rebuilding Infrastructure in America.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Wilbur Ross of Commerce, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Rick Perry of the Department of Energy will discuss the White House proposal “for aligning federal resources with local infrastructure needs and helping complete projects faster.” A day earlier, two Commerce subcommittees will examine “State and Local Transportation Needs” and “Next Generation Broadband.” And on Friday, Brookings hosts “How to create a better, more efficient approach to infrastructure.”
  • FEMA Administrator Brock Long will make his first appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee when it meets Thursday to consider the lessons learned from this year’s spate of natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the agency’s preparedness (marginal), response (slow) and recovery efforts (ongoing) related to the 2017 disasters.
  • What’s the state of military command forces and what are the various regional defense forces asking for as part of the fiscal 2019 budgets? Those and other questions will be answered when the Senate Armed Services Committee hears on Tuesday from U.S. Central Command and Africa Command, and from Cyber Command; on Wednesday on Atomic Energy Defense; and on Thursday from Pacific Command.
  • Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force will line up to answer questions and discuss the state of their services, defense strategy and key initiatives in the fiscal 2019 budget at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday afternoon.
  • Chinese Premier Xi Jinping got himself appointed president for life, or however long he wants it – something that Russian President Vladimir Putin has got to admire. Putin is doing his best, however; when Russians go to the polls on Sunday, they will find little to no legitimate competition on the ballot to Putin, who is seeking his fourth term. All of which means a geyser of think-tank events for Russia aficionados, beginning Wednesday at AEIthe Wilson Center and CSIS, followed on Thursday by the Institute of World Politics and, on Friday, CSIS again.

    Founded in 2006, Sphere Consulting is an international public affairs firm providing clients with creative, effective, and timely solutions.  Our work spans the globe and all industry sectors with a focus on the implementation of strategic campaigns to deliver your media and government relations needs.

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