A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
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Leading the week
After passing the NDAA on Thursday, the House is now in recess until January 9 despite Speaker Mike Johnson’s previous optimism about approving additional funding for Ukraine and Israel before the holidays. But over in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a delay to the planned recess, with a vote on a supplemental funding bill at some point next week now linked to a ‘framework agreement’ on immigration issues required to gain Republican support for the aid bill. Discussions between the White House and senators are planned over the weekend, while President Joe Biden may provide an update when he speaks in Milwaukee on Wednesday (December 20), though the visit to the swing state is focused on promoting his economic agenda.
With less than a month to go before the Iowa Republican caucuses on January 15, next week will see almost all the remaining GOP candidates heading to the Hawkeye State – the unsurprising exception being Chris Christie, who heads to New Hampshire for town halls on Tuesday and Wednesday (December 19-20). Christie’s campaign faced a setback earlier this week when Nikki Haley picked up the endorsement of New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu as she began her latest swing through the Granite State.
Haley will be back in Iowa next week, though, with events scheduled Monday through Thursday (December 21) during which she may well bring up the recent poll from the Wall Street Journal giving her a whopping 17-point lead over Biden in a head-to-head matchup.
Ron DeSantis, whose campaign has focused almost exclusively on Iowa, kicks things off with an event on Monday with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who endorsed him last month. Further events announced for Wednesday and Thursday suggest the Florida governor will be there for the best part of the week.
Donald Trump will also be Iowa for a campaign event on Tuesday (December 19), though arguably the more interesting developments for the Republican frontrunner next week concern his legal situation. Trump’s legal team faces a Wednesday (December 20) afternoon deadline to respond to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request to the Supreme Court to resolve the question of whether Trump is immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office.
Smith’s bid came in a week that also saw the court announce it would take up a case with potential ramifications for Trump’s trial over the January 6 riots and conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results. In a small win for the special counsel, the DC circuit court agreed this week to expedite its consideration of Trump’s appeal in the immunity claim proceedings, giving Trump’s legal team until Saturday (December 23) to file their briefs ahead of oral arguments likely in January.
While there has been a significant focus on Ukraine this week with Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington DC and Vladimir Putin’s first big press conference since Russia’s invasion, the conflict in the Middle East has continued to make headlines. President Joe Biden dispatched national security advisor Jake Sullivan to Israel yesterday, and on Monday (December 18) he is expected to be followed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in what will be his second visit since the October 7 attack. Austin is due to meet with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his counterpart Yoav Gallant to underscore US support but also to ‘reinforce the importance of taking civilian safety into account during operations’ as the US warns of wavering international support. Austin will also visit Bahrain and Qatar as part of the trip, which begins on Saturday (December 16).
Back in New York, the UN security council is set to discuss illegal Israeli settlement activity on Tuesday (December 19), when concerns about increased attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank are likely to be addressed. On Wednesday (December 20), the conflict is sure to feature prominently when Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov joins Arab counterparts for talks in Morocco, with Russia hoping to exploit the conflict to its advantage in the region amid criticism of US support for Israel. French president Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, is visiting Jordan on Thursday and Friday (December 21-22) for a traditional Christmas meal with French troops abroad, though he may also hold talks with King Abdullah, who was in Europe earlier this week pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Despite security concerns, a general election remains scheduled on Wednesday (December 20) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where incumbent president Félix Tshisekedi is seeking reelection. Voting is taking place amid ongoing violence in the east of the country, where many areas are controlled by Tutsi-led M23 rebels, who Tshisekedi insists are backed by Rwandan president Paul Kagame. If either of Tshisekedi’s main rivals Martin Fayulu or Moïse Katumbi were to win, it would mark only the second peaceful transition of power in the country’s post-independence history. But with MONUSCO peacekeepers due to withdraw from the country by the end of next year, and the UN warning of a direct military confrontation between Kinshasa and Kigali, concerns about the country’s future are likely to persist regardless of the outcome of these elections.