The Biggest Political Issues To Watch In 2019

From a new Congress to global trade uncertainty, there's more than a few things to keep an eye on.
Posted at 4:52 PM, Dec 21, 2018

This past year had no shortage of major political moments, but 2019 is shaping up to be even more eventful. 

For starters, the new Congress will be sworn in at the beginning of January. With the House controlled by Democrats and the Senate still in Republican hands, gridlock is likely — especially over the most divisive issues, like the Affordable Care Act. In fact, Obamacare has a crucial year ahead. A judge in Texas recently ruled the law unconstitutional, meaning the new year could bring changes to the landmark healthcare bill that would have to be ironed out by Congress. 

Lawmakers will also have to tackle immigration policy, which flooded the headlines this year on several occasions. Between President Trump's proposed border wall, his calls to end birthright citizenship, and moves to limit asylum claims, there's a lot to sort out. 

Another key thing to watch in 2019 will be the investigations into the president and his business. Democrats taking over the majority in the House have already said they plan to look into any and all payments the Trump Organization received from foreign governments. And, of course, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia will continue. Former Trump campaign members Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort are scheduled to be sentenced early next year. 

Not all of the issues to keep an eye on are here at home, though. Over in the E.U., Brexit is supposed to happen in March. Depending on the circumstances of the exit deal, the relationship between the U.S. and U.K. could look much different — particularly as it relates to trade, which was a big issue this year and will be next year, too. 

The U.S. and China are still locked in a bitter trade war, which some economists predict could knock 0.8 percentage points off of global GDP by 2020. That pressure might make life more difficult for middle-class Americans, and could set the stage for the 2020 presidential race. 

There's been lots of talk about that already, with dozens of potential candidates mulling White House bids. Among the top potential candidates to watch will be Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and a very familiar name to many Americans — former Vice President Joe Biden.