The Kavanaugh debacle finally came to an end, with the Senate confirming him by a vote of 50-48, Trump got his trade deal, and maybe a start to the 2020 election. News this week was absolutely dominated by Washington politics. For once, maybe that’s right. Let’s dive in.
Kavanaugh Vote Finally Confirmed
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by a vote of 50-48, with the key votes of Manchin, Flake, and Collins. This ends a story that had captured the eyes of the entire country–and most importantly, midterm voters–as 35-year-old allegations of sexual misconduct slowed down what would likely have otherwise been a simple confirmation process. It resulted in additional hearings and an FBI investigation, but eventually in just enough votes to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat. You can read a full report from before the final vote from our own Mike Ursery here.
The entire process was disheartening, whether you liked Kavanaugh or not (I don’t like him, but I did pen an article in support of his confirmation before these details came to light). Either we as a nation don’t take seriously sexual assault allegations, and every close vote by the Supreme Court for the next 40 years will have an asterisk, or we no longer value due process or a maintaining of innocence. At least, that’s what the other side kept telling me.
Amidst all of this, though, there was one bright shining ray of humanity: Senator Daines’s daughter’s wedding. Senator Daines, a Republican from Montana, made it clear that his daughter was getting married over the weekend, and he was going to be there to walk her down the aisle. Before the vote was scheduled, Montana’s only Congressman Greg Gianforte (yes, the one who assaulted a reporter on the eve of his special election) offered Daines his private plane in the hopes that Daines could make the wedding and the vote. Unfortunately, the vote was scheduled during the wedding, and there was no way Daines could do both. Enter Senator Murkowski, of Alaska. Murkowski, who had already announced she intended to vote no, told Daines that she would change her vote to present so that the margin of the vote would not be impacted by his absence. She made good on her word, and Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48, instead of 51-49 had both voted. See our more in-depth breakdown of the saga tomorrow.
Goodbye NAFTA, Hello USMCA
Trump made good on a campaign promise to leave NAFTA and replace it with something… really similar. There were certainly changes, and you can read more about it in my own article on the subject. But was it some great new change to trade in North America? Probably not. There are still a lot of questions to be asked, and hopefully, some more details will be worked out before this is voted on by the next Congress. Specifically, I’m interested in seeing agricultural tariffs lowered by Canada and Mexico on soybeans and corn, something left totally untouched by the new trade deal.
Trump still has a long way to go on trade, but this is a win he sorely needed. China very well may be cracking, and hopefully, a deal with the EU is on the way, but the fact is Trump needed something, anything, to show off when he claims he’s winning the trade war he started. Look for the USMCA to slowly become a huge talking point for Republicans over the next month.
An Early Look At 2020?
We are less than a month until the 2018 midterms, but some Democrats seem to be preparing for the 2020 primaries already. Of course, Cory Booker’s performance in the Kavanaugh hearings was seen by many as a power play for some 2020 momentum, but he wasn’t alone. Politico surveyed Iowa Democrats to see who they favored for 2020, and while Booker did make waves, Joe Biden stole the show. This is despite those same people saying they wanted someone younger, and likely a Senator. What I found most interesting, though, is that they preferred bipartisanship over ideologues. You can read the whole report here, but I think it says more than anything else is that this could be wide open. Biden is amping up, Booker and Harris are certainly interesting, and we may see a bid from civil libertarian Tulsi Gabbard, who made a stop in Iowa for a fundraiser for the state’s only Democrat.
Elon Musk continues to make the news, this week for two reasons. The first reason is that he donated $480k to help provide clean water for schools in Flint, Michigan. The second is that he still does not like the SEC. He tweeted taunting the regulatory commission, to which many people tweeted to Elon asking him to stop tweeting, as it was affecting Tesla’s stock (it dropped 7%). The last time we told someone to stop tweeting, he was elected president. So, yes, Elon stop tweeting. Please. We’re begging you.
You can read more from Ian Scar on Think Liberty here.