This week we drove the Corvette so fast that we hit the debt ceiling, except nobody really noticed. Immigration reform hit a wall, and Chris Christie hit the road, just a little lonelier than usual. And next week, if you’re not invited to the State Dinner, at least Freddy’s BBQ Joint will be slinging ribs again soon. (Pause, address camera, and explain that this is a “House of Cards” reference.)
Here’s a glimpse at some of the stories your ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead:
That was fast. Immigration reform went from the fast track to the full stop inside the space of a week, with House Speaker John Boehner blaming President Obama, somehow, for fractures inside the Republican conference. Boehner’s assessment significantly downgrades the chances of an immigration bill passing the House, much less making its way to the president’s desk. The measure has been written off before, but we’re quickly getting to the stage of final judgments. Unless Republican House members feel the pressure to act – or decide they’re comfortable with bucking strong elements inside their own party – yet another punt is on the way.
The long-delayed showdown over how the military investigates sexual assaults is coming to a head. Votes are possible as soon as Tuesday on competing proposals championed by two of the most prominent female Democratic senators. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., wants to take investigations out of the chain of command, while Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wants to reform the system working with the Pentagon and existing command structures. Few issues have drawn similar emotion surrounding the people involved – or similar drama inside the Senate.
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What could possibly go wrong? State Dinners have been rare in the Obama White House, only in part because President Obama has had simply horrible luck with them. Now, a dinner Tuesday in honor of now-single French President Francois Hollande is generating intrigue about whom he might be seated with. (It won’t be a girlfriend: Hollande is going stag, according to French officials.) The highlights of previous such affairs in the Obama era include Salahis, a few absurdly expensive bottle of wine, and one planned dinner that the Brazilian president called off because of the Snowden revelations. Whatever is on the menu, it will be a week of playing host for Obama: He and Hollande will travel off-campus to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello on Monday. And Obama will host King Abdullah II of Jordan Friday at Sunnylands in California – the same resort he met President Xi Jinping of China at last year.
A special election Tuesday in San Diego will fill the mayor’s seat formerly held by Bob Filner, the Democrat forced into resignation after a raft of women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment. The city was long a Republican dot in blue California, but Democrats are hoping to hold San Diego’s top job with city councilman David Alvarez. The 33-year-old would become the city’s first Latino mayor and is already being touted as a national rising star. Standing in his way is another city council member, Republican Kevin Faulconer, who swamped Alvarez and the rest of the field in the first round of voting, in November. Labor unions have poured resources into the race, in the hopes of keeping the nation’s eighth-largest city in Democratic control.
The Chris Christie road tour continues next week, a quite-visible reminder of what might have been for the New Jersey governor, had those bad days of traffic never materialized. In between fundraising trips for the National Governors Association, Christie is speaking Tuesday in Chicago and Thursday in Washington. It’s hardly business as usual for Christie, though – not with documents flowing in to state legislative committees, any one of which could effectively end Christie’s ambitions. This past week was quieter than it might have been for the governor, but this is not the 2014 he and his aides had long planned.