What's next in 2017?
One month after the elections there is still much uncertainty about what policy changes the new presidential administration will propose. This is particularly true on foreign policy; but, even on domestic policy, recent remarks by president-elect Trump on immigration and climate change stand in contrast to his remarks on the campaign trail and leave many open questions.
The Republican-led House, however, is already laying out its plans for early next year which include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a rollback of environmental and other regulations. Look for the print edition of the Washington Memo in January for a look back at 2016 and more in-depth analysis of what to expect in 2017 on a number of domestic and foreign policy issues.
Colombia: The negotiating parties in Colombia spent several weeks modifying the peace accord that was rejected in a popular referendum in October. Revised accords were sent to the Colombian Congress where they passed unanimously, with opposition party members abstaining. Further legislative steps will be necessary for legal components of the accord to take effect.
Dakota Access Pipeline: On December 4, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant the permits necessary to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Army Corps will conduct a formal review of the project’s environmental impacts. While an immediate victory for those opposed to the pipeline, it is unclear what power the incoming Trump administration may have to reverse this decision. Read more | Related: Powerful apology from veterans to tribes
Democratic Republic of the Congo: On November 15, the House easily passed H. Res. 780. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), urges respect for the constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the democratic transition of power in 2016 and lays the groundwork for imposing targeted sanctions if this does not take place.
Haiti: Six years after the cholera epidemic began in Haiti, the United Nations has publicly apologized to cholera victims. It is crucial that the apology is translated into action. In the past the UN put forward other cholera elimination plans, but they languished without the funds needed for implementation. We will continue to push current and future U.S. administrations to make appropriate contributions to the UN fund.
Syria and Iraq: In the year-end "continuing resolution," Congress included an additional $5.8 billion for the Pentagon's fight against ISIS and $300 million in humanitarian assistance for people who have been displaced from their homes. The House also passed a bill dramatically stepping up sanctions against Syria on November 15.
January 3, 2017: First day of 115th Congress
January 20: Inauguration Day
January 27: The deadline for our high school essay contest is approaching quickly! Encourage the high school students you know to submit an essay on gun violence, immigration or Colombia. Grand prize is $1,000!
April 21-24: Save the date now for the next Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference here in Washington, D.C. The theme will be, "Confronting Chaos, Forging Community," looking at racism, materialism and militarism, identified by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the main challenges of his time and all too relevant today.
Lament and gratitude (immigration)
Many thanks to Joshua Russell, who wrapped up his 2-year service term in our office on November 18. Josh worked tirelessly for reforms to the U.S. criminal justice system and also did a great job coordinating our office's communication tasks. We wish him all the best.