Jun 3, 2018

The Trump deadline effect

President Trump boards Marine One en route to Camp David. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

One of the under-reported ways Donald Trump has changed Washington: Deadlines suddenly matter. We saw it last week when Trump hit allies — the European Union, Mexico and Canada — with steep steel and aluminum tariffs.

Why it matters: Trump had announced these tariffs back in March, but exempted some key trading partners. Trade lawyers and lobbyists following the situation told me they expected Trump to extend the deadlines when they expired on June 1, rather than throw these key relationships into further turmoil.

  • But Trump didn't do that. He enforced the deadline, as he'd done previously when he terminated the Iran deal.
  • And now, many on Capitol Hill worry that later this year he’ll use another key deadline — the September government funding bill — to play chicken with funding for the wall.

John Stipicevic, a lobbyist with the pulse of the House Republican conference (formerly Kevin McCarthy's floor director), told me this trend became so stark to him that he sent a note to clients on Friday warning them about it.

  • "There's been an attitude around this town for a long time that deadlines and expiration dates don't really matter," Stipicevic told me. "As deadlines and expiration dates are approaching there's this kind of casual attitude of 'Oh, time for another extension. No big deal. Time for another CR [short-term government funding extension].'"
  • "With this administration there needs to be a re-evaluation of that approach," Stipicevic added. "Clearly, deadlines and expiration dates are going to be used as leverage in this administration."
  • "I don't think he's going to accept a bad deal because it's just easier to do a clean extension."

What's next: At the end of September, government funding is set to expire and Congress will ask Trump to sign another deal. Hill Republicans want Trump to sign a short-term funding bill, rather than shut down the government so close to the midterms. But nobody I've spoken to is 100% confident he’ll do that.

  • A senior administration official told me that a number of Republicans Trump respects have privately told the president it would not be in his political interests to shutter the government so close to the midterm elections. The source said Trump appeared to be receptive to that argument.
  • The real deadline, the source added, is likely shortly after the midterms. Based on private conversations, there’s no reason to think Trump will keep the government open if he doesn’t get wall funding.

The bottom line: A source close to Trump told me the line "but you said..." is one of the most powerful lines you can use with the president when he's considering going down a different policy path than the one he previously promised. "If I'm talking to him later in the year when they're talking about this, I'd be saying 'but you said...'"

Go deeper

Coronavirus spreads to new countries, while U.S. confirms 57 cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Public health officials confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has 57 people with the novel coronavirus, mostly those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship — an increase they had expected after the passengers were allowed to return home from Japan against their initial advice.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected more than 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There's only been two cases of person-to-person infections in the U.S. so far, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now warning that Americans should prepare for a much broader outbreak here.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Space tourism gets ready for launch

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Multiple space tourism companies are aiming to send their first customers to the edge of space before the end of this year.

Why it matters: Right now, most revenue in the space industry is tied up in government contracts, but experts say the maturing industry will need tourism to grow into the $1 trillion economy some predict it could be.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Science