Balance of Power: 30 Days That'll Set Course for a Presidency

The U.S. Congress returns today from its recess to find that Hurricane Harvey is scrambling an already daunting agenda.

Facing deadlines at the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown and an unprecedented default on the nation’s debt, lawmakers also have to confront whopping damage estimates from the storm that swamped Houston.

President Donald Trump wants $7.85 billion as a ``down payment'' on emergency aid and urged Congress to link it to a measure to raise the debt ceiling by the target date of September 29.

House Republicans said no. Conservatives want spending cuts in exchange for their debt-limit votes, particularly with the prospect of tens of billions of new Harvey aid in the future.

As if that’s not enough, the overlapping investigations into Russian meddling in the U.S. election are entering a more aggressive phase, and North Korea seems intent on drawing Trump into a confrontation.

Trump weathered Harvey but that was child’s play compared to the next 30 days, when he must navigate fiscal, investigative and even military peril that could set the course for the remainder of his presidency.

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Trump boards Air Force One on September 2.
Photographer: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

Global Headlines

Bracing for another missile | Kim Jong Un appears unfazed by U.S. claims that he's “begging for war,” with reports that his regime has begun moving an intercontinental ballistic missile to prepare it for launch before North Korea’s national foundation day on Saturday. That may give a heightened sense of urgency to a push at the United Nations for sanctions aimed at oil exports.

White House’s revolving door | Trump’s allies are worried that the most damaging of the many recent departures may be that of Keith Schiller, a little-known former bodyguard who’s one of the president’s closest confidants. Schiller is seen as an anchor in a White House beset by turmoil. One person close to Trump described the president as “crushed” by the development.

Honeymoon over | “He’s not my bride, and I’m also not his bride or groom.” That’s how President Vladimir Putin brushed off a question from Bloomberg’s Ilya Arkhipov on whether he was disappointed by Trump’s failure to deliver on campaign pledges to improve ties. Romance may be off the table, but Putin’s not pulling the knives out yet, either. He said Moscow isn’t planning to order a tit-for-tat response to Washington’s ouster of Russia from some diplomatic facilities in the U.S.

A unique coalition in Germany | Less than three weeks before the election, Chancellor Angela Merkel looks unstoppable but the coalition she’ll head remains unclear. As Arne Delfs reports, an unusual model in Germany's northernmost-state is attracting her attention -- not least because it’s led by a rising star in her party. For more on Merkel’s challenges, click here.  

Nafta talks going nowhere | The latest round is coming to an end without an agreement on even the least-contentious topics, trade officials told Josh Wingrove and Eric Martin. With negotiators unable to see eye-to-eye on thorny issues such as wages and rules of origin, never mind any deals on individual Nafta chapters, the likelihood of wrapping it all up this year is fading fast.

And finally... A Japanese wrestler-turned-politician who once fought Muhammed Ali is heading to North Korea, where he’s likely going to urge officials to agree to nuclear talks. The visit isn't out of character. Antonio Inoki also went to Iraq and met with Saddam Hussein to help secure the release of hostages. Even so, Japan’s government, having told its citizens to stay out of the country, isn't impressed with the WWE Hall of Famer's travel plans.

Inoki poses at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea Sunday, July 13, 2014.
Photographer: AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin

 

— With assistance by Gregory White, and Caroline Alexander

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