Looking Ahead At Trump's First 100 Days In Office
RAY SUAREZ, HOST:
It's shaping up to be a very busy week in American politics, too. President Trump heads toward his 100th day in office as he and the Congress approach a deadline for keeping the government open Friday night. That could hinge on a showdown over the president's desire to fund the building of a border wall. NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving is with us now. Hi, Ron.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to hear your voice, Ray.
SUAREZ: Mr. Trump was elected with a pretty robust agenda for what he would do in his first 100 days but much of it has been stalled. Now the president calls that 100-day mark a ridiculous standard. Does he have a point?
ELVING: What's ridiculous is the level of anticipation for what is essentially an imaginary mark on the calendar. But look, the president wants it both ways here. He says it's silly, and then he says he's accomplished more in just 90 days than any administration in history. And he says he's going to have a big celebration next Saturday in Pennsylvania on the night of the 99th day.
SUAREZ: Congress also has to vote to keep the government open before the end of the day Friday. How's that fight shaping up?
ELVING: It had been going pretty well actually, enough so for Congress to take their usual two weeks off around Easter. But late in the day, the White House weighed in with fresh demands for the border wall, as you say, and more money for the military and immigration enforcement. There may also be a showdown over subsidies for health insurance under Obamacare. So now the suspense of the deadline is back, and they may need another extension on that deadline for a week or so into the month of May.
SUAREZ: The president also made news in the last couple of days by announcing he would lay out a big tax plan on Wednesday. What do we know about that?
ELVING: We know that they're not yet ready to lay out a comprehensive plan for rewriting the whole tax code. So the president may just talk about giving the whole country a big tax cut. He says it'll be the most massive in history for individuals and corporations alike. And this is a rather classic case of eating dessert first, but it will provide a big high in the middle of what may otherwise be a difficult week.
SUAREZ: Even if the president isn't able to achieve big legislative victories in short order, how important is it for him to demonstrate that he's busy working hard leading up to this 100-day milestone?
ELVING: It's important, and there should be no doubt that he's been busy. We've had dozens of bills signed into law and a blizzard of executive orders. And whatever you think of the president's work product or his work style, you have to say he's trying to deliver on at least some of his agenda.
SUAREZ: The future of the Affordable Care Act is still an open question. Congress's inability to pass a replacement probably wasn't the last word. Now the president is hinting at blocking the funds necessary to keep the law working, while different members of Congress are hinting at ways to revisit, revise, repeal. Was there some talk about the issue coming up again this week? Is that still on the table?
ELVING: Yes, there have been negotiations between the House moderates and the House Freedom Caucus - that's the hardcore group on the right that shot down the first effort at repeal last month. They think they have a deal to please that caucus, and it would restore coverage of what are called essential health benefits under Obamacare but allow states to get waivers to opt out of that. So this could add some votes over the March tally. Still, so far at least, Speaker Paul Ryan has not scheduled a new vote to repeal Obamacare.
SUAREZ: That's NPR's Ron Elving. Thanks, Ron.
ELVING: Thank you, Ray.
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