capitol building

This Week:

The Senate passed legislation to streamline nuclear energy licensing and reauthorize firefighter assistance programs. The House was out of session.

Next Week:

The Senate will be out of session and return to Washington the week of July 8. The House may vote on three funding bills covering the operations and functions of various federal agencies for fiscal year 2025.

The Lead

Summer and Fall Fun.

With summer starting this week, we thought it would be a good idea to flag a few upcoming dates that will impact the elections and the policy roadmap over the next few months. Below are some key dates to put on your calendar.

  • June 27: First Biden-Trump Debate. This debate will use a different format than what has been used in past presidential debates. There will be no live audience. Microphones will be muted for the candidates when questions are not asked of them. How will Biden perform without the teleprompters? Can Trump control himself? Will the candidates appeal to the small number of undecided voters or simply play to their base voters as they have so far?
  • Late June: Supreme Court Decisions. The Court will render decisions any day now in big cases relating to presidential immunity, abortion access, federal agency regulatory authority and social media regulation. Some of these case decisions could trigger passion in key voting blocs.
  • July 11: Trump Sentencing. Trump lost a little ground in national polls following his conviction in New York on May 30. Will his sentencing lead to a further polling setback?
  • July 15-18: Republican Convention. Trump’s speech will occur on the last day, July 18. Will undecided voters watch? What will he say to them, if anything? Trump’s choice of a running mate is expected to be made at the beginning of the Convention.
  • August 19-22:Democratic Convention. Biden’s acceptance speech will occur on August 22. He will have to compete with television coverage of the summer Olympics and vacation season. Will undecided voters watch? What will he say to them that he hasn’t already said? Will he still be the nominee? Is it possible a poor debate performance at the June 27 debate could cause him to reassess his candidacy? If he was to drop out, a scenario that we think is very unlikely, the convention would be the proper forum to replace him.
  • September 2: Hunter Biden Trial on Tax Evasion. Legal experts believe that Hunter’s legal exposure in this next case is more significant than in his first case on the gun charges. Will the trial details impact voters or are voters tired of these trials?
  • September 10: Second Biden-Trump Debate. We assume this debate will still feature Biden and Trump and will still occur, but you never know.
  • September 20: Early Voting Begins in Minnesota and South Dakota. The national vote begins in these two states but not yet in the crucial swing states. The early voting schedule in the swing states that will decide the outcome of the presidential election are as follows: Arizona (October 9), Pennsylvania (October 11), Georgia (October 14), Nevada and North Carolina (October 17), Wisconsin (October 22) and finally Michigan (October 26).
  • Late September:VP Debate? There hasn’t yet been an agreement on a date for a debate featuring the two vice presidential candidates. If there is such a debate, it would likely occur in late September. Voters may pay special attention to this debate given the advanced ages of both Biden and Trump.
  • October: Hunter Biden Sentencing. No exact date for sentencing has been scheduled yet for his recent conviction, but it is expected to occur sometime in October. The judge in the case could delay this date. Although Hunter is the convicted felon to be sentenced, not his father, will voters see it that way? Will this be the October surprise?
  • November 5: Election Day. The last day to vote. We expect about 40% of voters will vote this day, while 60% will vote earlier.

Other Issues in Play

No Tax on Tips?

Former President Trump recently floated an idea to end the federal taxation of income that is earned as a tip. This proposal has received interest from millions of workers who earn tips and from many Republican lawmakers. A major tax bill will be a focus of 2025, and this proposal could then come into play (but not before then). As with many other tax proposals, this one comes with concerns about the cost. One analysis suggests an exemption of tax from tip income would reduce revenue to the federal government by $250 billion over ten years. The proposal will be considered as lawmakers decide on the extension of a much wider range of expiring tax cuts. An extension of those expiring provisions would cost $4.6 trillion over ten years. Whether the tip proposal ever sees the light of day will likely depend on whether Trump and Republicans have a majority in Washington next year, but we can add it to a growing list of major tax issues that will be resolved in 2025.

Supreme Court Contention.

Following recent revelations that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted more privately funded vacations than were previously disclosed, Senate Democrats have revived their interest in passing legislation establishing new ethical guidelines for Supreme Court justices. The bill will not pass in the Senate and would also not pass in the House, but it does create pressure on the Court to enhance its own set of ethical standards. Senate Republicans view the move as a way of embarrassing the conservative-majority Court. While the issue will be sidelined for the time being, it will be brought back to the Senate immediately if there are other perceived ethical lapses by justices of the Court. It’s a good bet that none of the justices will be taking vacations paid for by friends this summer.

The Final Word

Debate Stage is Set.

The deadline to qualify for CNN’s first presidential debate came and went yesterday with only President Biden and former President Trump hitting the necessary thresholds required to stand on the debate stage next week. These thresholds were designed to make it difficult for anyone but those two to make it on stage. They required the candidates to be on the ballot in enough states to win 270 electoral votes (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has only amassed 42) and to be polling at 15% in four national polls (he’s hit this threshold in three). The snub has elicited for RFK JR. some sympathy from voters and a recent boost in fundraising. While this first debate rejection is a clear setback for him, he will look ahead to determine if he can participate in the second debate in September. In order to do that, he’ll need to stay in the limelight during the sleepier summer months and to continue raising money. While RFK JR. will not be on stage next Thursday, he has a very reasonable chance of joining the party in September and continue to play a meaningful role in this election.