Hillary Clinton has signaled that she hopes to run for president in part by painting the GOP-controlled Congress — and, by extension, the Republican Party — as a divisive, destructive, hidebound, reactionary force. As the Post recently put it, Clinton has accused Congressional Republicans “of waging a war on women, playing politics with a black nominee, shortchanging students, endangering the economic recovery and trying to yank health-care coverage for 16 million Americans.”

And it looks as if the GOP Congress is set to hand Clinton a lot more material.

The recent period of calm (relative, of course) in Congress has perhaps led people to forget just how crazy things are going to get this fall. But Politico has a good reminder this morning:

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Lawmakers have teed up a hellish final few months of 2015, as a series of high-stakes deadlines looms on everything from keeping the government open to doling out money for roads and then, for good measure, raising the federal government’s borrowing limit. It promises to be a major test of the Republican Party’s ability to govern as the GOP prepares to ask voters to continue one-party control of Congress…
Mix in a contentious vote on President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal in mid-September and the first attempt by a GOP-led Capitol to raise the debt ceiling later in the fall or winter and you have a perfect storm of deadlines with little time to meet them.

The phrase “first attempt by a GOP-led Capitol to raise the debt ceiling” is rather frightening, isn’t it? Also, there may well be GOP-led Congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood, too. And note this:

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Meanwhile, every decision on Capitol Hill is likely to be second-guessed by the rowdy band of Republicans trying to secure their party’s presidential nomination, four of whom serve in the Senate.

In other words, the likes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio may use these must-pass measures to stage confrontations designed to appeal to GOP primary voters. Many of these deadlines will hit just as the GOP primaries are really getting underway. With Democrats hoping to paint the outbreaks of Congressional chaos as evidence that GOP governance is incompetent and even dangerous, this raises the interesting possibility that the conduct of GOP candidates who are also in Congress could weaken the GOP’s overall hopes of winning the White House.

However, all these looming confrontations ideally will place some pressure on Clinton, too. Hopefully she’ll go big in addressing some of the fundamentals that are partly responsible for the dysfunction — such as deepening polarization, negative partisanship, and the built-in incentives against compromise that are more pronounced on the GOP side — and why she’d be able to navigate them effectively.

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Indeed, it is hardly a given that voters will conclude that electing another Democratic president is the answer to GOP-fomented Congressional chaos. It’s possible it could play in favor of current and former GOP governors running for president, such as Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, who might use Congress as a foil by pointing to their outside-Washington executive experience.

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* GET READY FOR OBAMA’S CLIMATE PLAN: Coral Davenport reports that Obama’s rules to curb emissions from existing power plants is set to drop as early as next Monday. The deadline for states to submit their own plans to hit emissions targets will be extended, but the political and legal battle over them will get going right away.

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GOP governors running for president, such as Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Bobby Jindal, will likely refuse to comply with the rules to appeal to GOP primary voters. Hillary Clinton has vowed to protect them — setting up a big contrast over climate change heading into 2016.

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The Environmental Protection Agency will give states an additional two years — until 2022 — to begin phasing in pollution cuts, even as the agency toughens the standards that many states will ultimately have to meet…the EPA will offer credits and other inducements to encourage a rapid shift to renewable energy under the Clean Power Plan.

Mitch McConnell is urging GOP governors to resist, to make it harder to reach an international climate agreement by sowing doubts about whether the U.S. can meet its end of the bargain. That resistance probably won’t be dimmed by incentives.

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 * GOP LEADERS TREAD CAREFULLY ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The Washington Examiner reports that House conservatives are upset with House GOP leaders for not immediately moving to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of the undercover fetal tissue videos. Here’s why:

Republican leaders say that while they have passed the measure in previous years, this time around, Republicans want to attract broader support, and believe they can accomplish that by first holding a series of hearings and conducting investigations into what practices are behind the undercover videos.

Republicans think hearings generating more media momentum against Planned Parenthood will put Dems on the spot over whether to keep backing the organization. So this will drag on.

* TOM STEYER DOESN’T MIND HILLARY’S DODGING ON KEYSTONE: We noted yesterday that climate activists such as Bill McKibben are upset with Hillary Clinton for not revealing her position on the Keystone pipeline, which they say raises questions about her overall resolve to combat climate change. But Politico reports that billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer is not that worried about this: while he opposes Keystone, Clinton’s non-committal stance is acceptable for now.

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Still, if the Obama administration approves the project, Clinton will have a tough decision to make at that time.

* WILL ‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ BECOME 2016 ISSUE? The Center for American Progress is releasing a new report that documents what it calls the “deadly legacy” across the country of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which was signed by Jeb Bush in 2005 and has inspired versions in other states.

It’ll be interesting to see where or how Clinton comes down on this, given that she appears to be willing or even eager to engage on gun violence.

* JEB BUSH BROADENS APPEAL TO HISPANICS: David Drucker reports that even as the GOP primary is the main event right now, Jeb Bush is actively working to burnish his appeal to Latino voters, giving Spanish language interviews and talking about his Mexican-born wife and bilingual children. As Drucker notes: “Bush appears to have the most developed Hispanic engagement strategy among Republicans.”

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Some Dems believe Jeb’s cultural appeal to Latinos actually could go a long way in reversing the GOP’s demographic problems in national elections. That may not help him that much among GOP primary voters, though.

* AND GOP ELITES ARE HELPLESS IN FACE OF TRUMP-PALOOZA: Matt Latimer reports on the anger and panic that has gripped GOP elites as they watch The Donald hijack the GOP nominating process. Conclusion:

Because he is defiantly not a part of the political class, he is impervious to conventional political weaponry. In fact, the attitude of the DC class toward his candidacy — temper tantrums and bouts of monumental arrogance — is only making him stronger.

Tune in to the first GOP debate on August 6th!

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