Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Over the first two years, President Trump could get away with largely extending his campaign bluster: Build a "big, beautiful wall" and get Mexico to pay for it, withdraw from foreign entanglements, deliver "incredible" healthcare, slash drug prices and fundamentally change the U.S.-China relationship.

Between the lines: Now he faces a new reality that's driven by Democrats in Congress and the need to deliver on his lofty promises.

Trump’s dawning reality:

The only path to a wall is by taking executive action, probably by declaring a national emergency, and finding himself caught up in yet another court fight.

Nobody at a senior level in the White House thinks they’ll get any legislating done in a Congress now dominated by a newly-elected anti-Trump, and unapologetically progressive, House Democratic majority.

Trump has thrown China off balance with harsh tariffs and deserves credit for highlighting Beijing’s abuses more than any recent president. Congress and the business community are surprisingly receptive to Trump’s tough line on China.

  • But he now needs to deliver the structural changes he promised — fundamentally changing China’s behavior. If all this results in is a bribe — China goes on a short-term U.S. shopping spree in exchange for Trump leaving them alone — then all the bluster will be worthless.

The American healthcare system remains an unaffordable mess.

  • Trump is using executive powers to make some reforms to drug pricing, which have angered the pharmaceutical lobby. But the chances of Congress passing something substantial this year are minimal.

After declaring — unequivocally, as always — that he was getting U.S. troops out of Syria, Trump’s administration is now grinding through a complicated and unclear process.

  • Republicans are pushing back and many, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, are pushing Trump toward retaining a skeletal U.S. presence in Syria as part of a long-term "stabilization" mission.
  • The bottom line: It’s still unclear when or even if the U.S. military will fully withdraw from Syria. It's even more unclear in Afghanistan, though Trump says he’s optimistic about the ongoing talks with the Taliban.

Go deeper

Updated 38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m. ET: 32,673,978 — Total deaths: 990,738 — Total recoveries: 22,535,056Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m. ET: 7,065,019 — Total deaths: 204,249 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,488,275Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee set to start Oct. 12

Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Sept. 24. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee are tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 12, two Senate sources familiar with the plans told Axios.

Why it matters: The committee's current schedule could allow Senate Republicans to confirm the nominee weeks before November's election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell currently has enough votes to confirm Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is expected as the president's pick.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

A hinge moment for America's role in the world

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photo: Saul Loeb/AFP

The world may be living through the last gasps of America First — or just getting a taste of what's to come.

Why it matters: President Trump's message at this week's virtual UN General Assembly was short and relatively simple: global institutions like the World Health Organization are weak and beholden to China; international agreements like the Iran deal or Paris climate accord are "one-sided"; and the U.S. has accomplished more by going its own way.