Sue us for not being surprised that a campaign conference call on the Mississippi Senate race could go poorly. Or sue us for thinking the House race featuring the kissing congressman and the relative of the Duck Dynasty guy won’t be about the major issues facing Louisiana. Or sue us for being less than excited about legislative prospects when Congress is back from another break. But definitely don’t sue us for thinking Jimmy Fallon’s hat looked tastier than anything Mitt Romney fired up on the grill.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
The influx of minors across the nation’s southern border is developing into the political story of the summer – and is spiraling into a massive humanitarian crisis for policy-makers to confront. Civil disobedience episodes in California are the latest addition a volatile mix, and Republicans are putting blame on President Obama for encouraging the flow of these children through his policies. The president, for his part, will formally ask Congress for resources and legal changes early in the week, and is ratcheting up messaging in Central American countries aimed at stopping parents from sending their children northward in the first place. Oh, and Obama will spend a few days in Texas in the coming week – squeezing in three fundraisers, though zero trips to the border.
Call it the run-on runoff. Two weeks after being declared the loser in Mississippi’s Republican Senate primary, Chris McDaniel continues to mull legal challenges against Sen. Thad Cochran’s campaign. McDaniel allies are seeking to prove that enough voters – many of them African-American – improperly voted in both the Democratic primary and then the GOP runoff to call into question Cochran’s nearly 7,000-vote margin of victory. McDaniel is even offering cash rewards to those who can prove voter fraud in an apparent attempt to prove an election was bought by purchasing evidence to back that up. The race has already spilled into other states, with bad feelings between tea party supporters and the establishment wing of the Republican Party that could play out in upcoming primaries in states like Alaska, Kansas, and Tennessee.
The rubber of legislative paralysis meets the road of policy implications in the compressed election-year summer congressional schedule. The federal highway trust fund is the most immediate issue confronting Congress, with backing for road and infrastructure projects set to be curtailed starting in August if money isn’t found to replenish the fund. Money for such projects will run out altogether Sept. 30 without a fix. But the most obvious solutions involve increases to gas taxes – tough proposals to push during summer driving season, particularly in an election year. The other pressing congressional item, re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank, could fall victim to similar political cross-currents, and economists fear that both issues could slow the economic recovery. Look for Senate Democrats and the White House to turn up the heat on House Republicans when Congress returns to session in the coming week.
If the IRS scandal is going to live on, this might mark the last best chance, at least on the legal front. A federal judge in Washington is holding a hearing Friday on the issue of the missing e-mails that conservatives believe would prove a conspiracy to target tea party groups for additional tax scrutiny. With Republicans on Capitol Hill running out of political levers, it may fall to the courts to move the storylines along. The issue of the apparently destroyed internal e-mails is the most likely front for that to occur. Meanwhile, House Republicans hope to press Attorney General Eric Holder to move forward on behalf of the Justice Department in an issue that’s already firing up the GOP base in advance of the election.
|MONICA THE MINISERIES|
She’s not the only focus, but she’s the one we’ll all focus on. Monica Lewinsky is the star interview subject in a three-party National Geographic series on the 1990s that begins airing Sunday night. It marks her first television interview in a decade, and it comes in the wake of a Vanity Fair essay where she vowed not to be silent any longer as the Clinton machine churns along. In early clips, Lewinsky says that she was “the most humiliated woman in the world” and was “a virgin to humiliation” during the infamous period where she became the most famous White House intern ever.