Clinton maps out first 100 days

Clinton maps out first 100 days
© Getty Images

If Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSessions says he doesn't regret recusing himself from Russia probe Judiciary Committee Republicans want a second special counsel: report Fusion GPS: White House trying to smear us on Russia MORE wins the White House, she’ll arrive with a long to-do list for her first 100 days.

Based on campaign pledges so far, the first stretch of Clinton’s presidency would involve an aggressive push for more than a dozen policies, including a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and a law to raise the federal minimum wage.

ADVERTISEMENT
Clinton has given few signs about which of her legislative priorities she would tackle first. But the top of her agenda likely includes an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system and a nearly $300 billion infrastructure plan, according to interviews with multiple Democratic strategists, former officials and pollsters.

Both are areas where she could earn support from business and labor groups as she seeks allies in Congress. Immigration, in particular, is increasing in importance, as she looks to grow her base of Hispanic supporters against her Republican opponent, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump cheers on Senate GOP ahead of 'skinny' ObamaCare repeal vote Live Coverage: Senate votes down 'skinny' ObamaCare repeal Pete King defends ‘unorthodox’ Scaramucci after attacks on Priebus MORE.

Several strategists said they expect Clinton would use her first day in office to nominate a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans have vowed to block President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, until at least Election Day.

The next items on Clinton’s list are tougher to determine, longtime observers say. Over the last year, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has committed to a litany of domestic policy areas long championed by liberals, but she has left out details like how or when she would accomplish them.

“I pledge that in my first 100 days as president, we will make the biggest investment in new good-paying jobs since World War II. We need more jobs you can support a family on, especially in places that have been left out and left behind, from Coal Country, to Indian Country, to inner cities, to every place that has been hollowed out when a factory closed or a mine shut down,” Clinton said in a speech earlier this month.

So far, she has indicated that her first 100 days would include nominating women for half of her Cabinet positions, investing in renewable energy, setting stricter rules for health insurers and drugmakers, and pushing for greater protections for voting rights.

Her broader platform focuses heavily on reducing income inequality, with promises to raise the minimum wage and close a tax loophole for hedge fund managers early in her first term.

Many of her ideas are designed to win over supporters of her vanquished primary rival, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLive Coverage: Senate votes down 'skinny' ObamaCare repeal Sanders: Senate healthcare fight 'totally bananas' Overnight Defense: Military won't lift transgender ban until Trump sends directions | House passes national security spending | Russian sanctions bill heads to Trump MORE (I-Vt.), strategists say.

During a Democratic debate in January, Clinton was asked to pick three priorities for her first 100 days. Instead, she rattled off about 10 policy areas.

“The biggest challenge for her campaign has always been the lack of a clear message, a policy agenda,” said Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist who served under former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonOPINION | Gen. Hayden: How the Russians played the Trumps Starr tells Trump to 'cut it out' with the attacks on Sessions OPINION | Democrats: Time to wish Hillary Clinton good luck and goodbye MORE. “Hillary Clinton cares about a lot of different things, and I think she wants to get something done and move the ball for a lot of different people.”

Since that debate appearance, Clinton has deepened her focus on immigration reform and infrastructure. Both are big-ticket items that could provide opportunities to court Republican support.

Nearly all of the items on her wish list will require supporters in the GOP, even if Democrats succeed in winning back Senate control. Most polling experts predict Republicans will keep control of the House, regardless of the presidential results.

Doug Thornell, a Democratic strategist and senior vice president at SKDKnickerbocker, said he believes Republican lawmakers will “get out of campaign mode” long enough to work with Clinton on at least one major item that they will be able to tout during the 2018 elections.

“My hunch is that she’s going to extend an olive branch with Congress, going to want to work and solve as many issues with Congress as possible,” Thornell said, adding that the current House Speaker, Paul RyanPaul RyanSenate defeats ObamaCare repeal measure McCain kills GOP's 'skinny' ObamaCare repeal plan Senate heading for late night ahead of ObamaCare repeal showdown MORE (R-Wis.) has more to gain than his predecessor by working with a Democratic president.

“Paul Ryan, like [former Speaker] John BoehnerJohn BoehnerBoehner on Trump tweets: He gets 'into a pissing match with a skunk' every day Boehner predicts GOP will 'never' repeal, replace ObamaCare Sudan sanctions spur intense lobbying MORE [R-Ohio], has had a difficult time corralling his conference, but Paul Ryan is in need of some legislative accomplishment that he can show to the country.”

 

Immigration reform

In a meeting in July with the League of United Latin American Citizens, Clinton vowed to work with Congress on an immigration bill that would offer “a path to citizenship” while also fixing the family visa backlog.

Hector Barreto, chairman of the nonpartisan Latino Coalition, said he remains optimistic that Clinton could deliver on an issue that went almost nowhere under President Obama.

Barreto said that while Obama’s firm stance on his own immigration package “poisoned the well” for many conservative lawmakers, he believes Clinton is “very easy to work with” and would be willing to compromise.

“I think there’s some people in Congress who would work with her,” said Barreto, a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who also served in the George W. Bush administration.

He specifically pointed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellLawmakers look forward after ObamaCare repeal failure McConnell: 'Time to move on' after healthcare defeat Senate defeats ObamaCare repeal measure MORE (R-Ky.), who has previously backed immigration reform efforts, as well as Ryan.

Ryan’s support could prove decisive, particularly if Democrats win the Senate majority.

House Republicans have sunk past attempts at comprehensive immigration bills, but Democrats hope Ryan could help corral the votes, particularly if his majority is smaller after the elections.

“I think Paul Ryan is smart enough to realize that the Latino voter is the greatest threat to the existence of the survival of the Republican Party,” said pollster Brad Bannon. “I think he will move heaven and Earth to try to get the Republicans on board for some kind of compromises.”

 

Infrastructure spending

Rebuilding the country’s infrastructure has also become a central focus of Clinton’s campaign.

At an event earlier this year, the candidate laid out a nearly $300 billion infrastructure plan she said she would send to Congress almost immediately upon being elected.

She called the plan “the biggest infrastructure investment since Dwight Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System,” with spending on roads, bridges, waterways, public transit and broadband internet.

The focus on improving infrastructure is a direct pitch to voters who say the economy is one of their top campaign issues in 2016, something nearly 90 percent said in a recent Gallup Poll.

“Really, infrastructure affects everybody,” said Brian Pallasch, head of government relations for the American Society of Civil Engineers. “It’s the backbone of the economy. It’s obviously a key issue, and it’s one of the things that I do believe the American people understand that infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.”

Infrastructure is another rare area where business groups, local government officials and labor unions see eye to eye.

While GOP lawmakers in Congress may protest the additional spending, they are likely to feel the pressure from local leaders back home to approve it.

“Infrastructure will matter. There are a lot of Republican governors. They will put pressure on their members of Congress,” Simmons, the Democratic strategist, said.

Longtime infrastructure advocates say they’re still holding out for word about how Clinton would pay for her plan.

“The challenge is going to be the pay-for. To offer just, ‘Oh, well, international tax reform can pay for this’ is not necessarily the right answer,” said Robyn Boerstling, vice president of infrastructure policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.