The 115th Congress, led by a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, is working swiftly to undo much of Pres. Obama’s agenda. Republican President-elect Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers have vowed to make repeal of Obama’s healthcare law a top priority along with a total tax overhaul.
The House and Senate swore in their new members on Tuesday: 52 new House members and 7 in the Senate. Overall, there are 241 Republicans in the House and 194 Democrats. The Senate has slimmer majority margins with 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats. The New Year is set to begin with a solid Republican majority hold on both Congress and the White House, which represents the first such sweep in a decade. However, the GOP gains are tempered by the Democrats’ intent to fight hard to hold their party’s agenda to protect the healthcare law and block the Republicans initiatives. With a slim majority in the Senate, the Democrats will have significant power to block GOP efforts, given the ability of the minority to use procedural roadblocks.
The House passed Obamacare repeal and reform legislation which is currently awaiting action in the Senate. Among the many provisions of the House measure is one repealing the onerous employer mandate. The Senate is currently working to create their own healthcare reform plan which they will reveal soon. It is almost certain the Senate plan will differ from the House-passed plan which will necessitate negotiations between the two chambers to work out a unified plan that can move forward in Congress.
Tax reform efforts are also underway in both houses of Congress. The President has issued a plan which includes a lower corporate tax rate and a permanent and full repeal of the unfair estate tax – both provisions of the President’s plan are supported by CDA.
Regulatory reform efforts are in full swing given the GOP majority in Congress and the Republican held White House. CDA has long supported regulatory reform initiatives in Congress and the association is optimistic about meaningful reforms in this 115th Congress. Early this year the President issued an executive order establishing regulatory watchdogs inside federal agencies to be responsible for enforcing his agenda. The Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda executive order created a task force and regulatory reform officer at each federal agency, appointed by agency heads. The task forces are responsible for combing through existing regulations to determine which ones can be repealed or modified. The reform officers are tasked with enforcing Trump’s regulatory priorities going forward, including the president’s executive order requiring agencies to repeal two rules for every new rule they issue also known as the “one-in-two-out” rule.
It remains to be seen how quickly and efficiently the Republican-led White House and Congress can effect all these changes. Despite the initial excitement over the gains, in light of their majority status, the GOP now assumes much responsibility for such issues as government funding and economic stability. And some of the GOP lawmakers have not been supporters of President-elect Trump which could further exacerbate the effectiveness of the majority. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke to the need to temper GOP elation following the 2016 elections warning that “overreaching after an election is, generally speaking, a mistake.”
CDA will continue to press for those issues, such as repeal of the healthcare law, repeal of the estate tax, regulatory reforms and revisions to the overtime rule, which remain important to our members.
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