2019 Look Ahead
2019 Look Ahead

Happy New Year!

2018 was an exciting year for Blue Star Strategies. We launched our new European office, serving clients in Paris and Brussels. We expanded our international service offerings across the Americas, Europe, and beyond. We participated in conferences and published insight and analysis focusing on key issues facing our clients, partners, and societiesincluding global trade disputes, China-Latin America relations, climate change, NATO enlargement, democracy and sustainable development, and Russia and the West.

Our client portfolio took us around the world—from Latin American capitals to the European Commission and EU Parliament to the halls of U.S. Congress. We engaged with United Nations agencies, the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund, think tanks, and civil society organizations. We advocated on behalf of inspiring trends such as energy diversification strategies and emerging technologies that improve public health outcomes, and helped clients mitigate the risks associated with economic populism and high-stakes elections. Throughout, we strove to build international partnerships and connections, strengthen democratic values and the rule of law, support broad and inclusive economic growth, and promote high standards for transparent business and regulatory practices.

Looking ahead to 2019, we will be monitoring developments and advocating across a number of business, governance, and policy arenas:

In the United States...

  • The U.S. government is currently in the midst of a more than 3-week partial federal government "shutdown"which occurred when Congress and President Trump were unable to agree on a continuing resolution and the appropriation of sufficient funds for the 2019 fiscal year budget, stemming from the president's demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for the construction of a U.S.–Mexico border wall. The result has been a lapse in funding for nine executive departments, affecting about 25% of all government activities and impacting 800,000 "non-essential" federal workers, including those who have been furloughed from their jobs and placed on unpaid leave. The current shutdown is the longest in U.S. history, surpassing the previous 21-day shutdown of 1995–1996.

  • Once the U.S. government reopens, the legislative agenda in the House of Representatives will be set by the new Democratic-majority led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Both parties will hold their annual caucus retreats in late January/February where they will develop their respective policy agendas for the year.

  • Major public policy issues likely to be debated by the 116th Congresswith Democrats setting the agendainclude healthcare costs and prescription drugs, infrastructure investment, immigration, gun control, renewable energy, and reform of campaign finance, ethics, and voting rights as well as extensive oversight and investigations focusing on the Trump administration.

  • Key upcoming dates and deadlines include*:
    • January 29 — President's State of the Union address
    • February 4 President submits budget to Congress
    • February 15 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) submits report on economic and budget outlook to Budget Committees
    • Six weeks after President's budget is submitted Committees submit reports on views and estimates to respective Budget Committee
    • April 1 Senate Budget Committee reports budget resolution
    • April 15 Congress completes action on budget resolution
    • June 10 House Appropriations Committee reports last regular appropriations bill
    • June 30 House completes action on regular appropriations bills and any required reconciliation legislation
    • July 15 President submits mid-session review of budget to Congress
    • October 1 Fiscal year 2020 begins
      *NCSL: Federal Budget Process

  • The 116th Congress will be led by:
    • Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
    • Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York)
    • Speaker of the House – Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California)
    • House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California)

  • Key Committee Chairs have been announced, which include:

Senate – Republican Chairs:
    • Appropriations – Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama
    • Armed Services – Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma
    • Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho
    • Budget Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming
    • Commerce, Science and Transportation Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi
    • Energy and Natural Resources – Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    • Ethics – Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia
    • Finance – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    • Foreign Relations – Sen. James Risch of Idaho
    • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
    • Helsinki Commission Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi
    • Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
    • Intelligence – Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina
    • Judiciary – Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

House – Democratic Chairs:
    • Appropriations – Rep. Nita Lowey of New York
    • Armed Services – Rep. Adam Smith of Washington State
    • Budget Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky
    • Climate Crisis Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida
    • Energy and Commerce Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey
    • Ethics Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida
    • Financial Services Rep. Maxine Waters of California
    • Foreign Affairs Rep. Eliot Engel of New York
    • Helsinki Commission Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey (R)
    • Homeland Security Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi
    • Human Rights (Lantos Commission) TBD
    • Intelligence Rep. Adam Schiff of California
    • Judiciary Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York
    • Oversight and Reform Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland
    • Transportation and Infrastructure Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon
    • Ways and Means Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts

In Europe...

  • 2019 is set to be a pivotal year in the history of the European Union with the UK officially leaving the EU on March 29, where both "deal" and "no deal" options are on the table. The first Council of the European Union without the UK will take place on May 9 in Sibiu, Romania.

  • Moreover, the 2019 European Elections presage a new balance of power and are likely to create shifting coalitions that will need to take into account an unprecedented amount of interests. The elections are set for May 23-26, when a total of 705 Members of European Parliament will be elected—followed by the formation of Parliamentary groups and committees and the EU Commission, comprised of one representative from each country.

  • Romania and Finland will each hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first and second halves of 2019, respectively.

  • Among the key elections set to take place in Europe in 2019 include:

    • Estonia parliamentary election on March 3
    • Slovakia presidential election on March 15
    • Ukraine presidential election on March 31
    • Finland parliamentary election on April 14
    • Macedonia presidential election in Spring (date TBC)
    • Lithuania presidential election on May 15
    • European Parliament election from May 23-26
    • Belgium parliamentary election on May 26
    • Spain municipal election on May 26
    • Greece general election in October (date TBC)
    • Portugal parliamentary election on October 6
    • Switzerland parliamentary election on October 21

In France...

  • In response to the so-called "Yellow Vest" movement, President Emmanuel Macron has announced the launch of a "Grand Debate" consisting of a citizen’s consultation focusing around four main themes: ecological transition (transportation, housing), taxation, organization of the French State and public authorities, and democratic debate and citizenship.

  • In advance of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Macron will also organize a new edition of the "Choose France" Summit on January 21, gathering some of the world’s most influential CEOs to promote France’s attractiveness.

  • The topics of focus likely to be debated in French Parliament this year include bioethics, health, mobility, energy, and business growth and competitiveness.

  • France's constitutional revision, which had been delayed by the Yellow Vest movement is expected to resume in April 2019, including with potential input by proposals made during the Grand Debate. The revision is aiming at modernizing legislative procedures, introducing a proportional system for parliamentary elections, and reducing the number of Members of Parliament.

In Latin America and the Caribbean...

  • Peru will host the 2019 Pacific Alliance Summit to advance the regional integration of the emerging trade bloc encompassing Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru.

  • Chile will host the 2019 APEC Summit (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) on November 16-17, where meetings will focus on digital economy, regional connectivity, and womens role in economic growth.

  • Among the key elections set to take place in the region in 2019 include:

    • El Salvador’s presidential election on February 3 (with a possible runoff in March)
    • Guyana’s general election (date TBC)
    • Panama’s presidential election on May 5
    • Guatemala’s presidential election in June (with a possible runoff in August)
    • Monserrat’s parliamentary elections in September (date TBC)
    • Canada’s federal elections on October 21
    • Argentina’s general election on October 27
    • Bolivia’s general election in October (date TBC)
    • Uruguay’s general election in October (date TBC)
    • Dominica’s general election in December (date TBC)


  • World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland from January 22-25
  • 70th anniversary of NATO in Washington, DC on April 4
  • Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC from April 12-14
  • 75th anniversary of D-Day of the Battle of Normandy on June 6
  • G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan from June 28-29
  • NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium on July 22
  • G7 Summit in Biarritz, France on August 24-26
  • UN General Assembly in New York City from September 17-30
  • Concordia Annual Summit in New York City from September 22-24
  • UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago, Chile from November 11-22

We invite you to follow us in 2019 by clicking on these social media links:


With our best regards and sincerest wishes for a happy, healthy, safe, and successful year ahead,

The Blue Star Strategies Team


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Editor: Jeremiah Baronberg

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