What to Expect From the 115th Congress

ObamaCare, deregulation, and entitlement reform are all in the crosshairs
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2017 7:41 AM CST
No. 115 starts Tuesday.   (Getty Images/uschools)

(Newser) – The 115th Congress will be sworn in at noon Tuesday, per WXYZ, which anticipates "an aggressive campaign" by Republicans to take down eight years' worth of President Obama's policies. The station adds that Democrats are ready to fight back by "swaying public opinion" and using their filibuster in the Senate. What else to look for Tuesday:

  • Both the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe predict an easy re-election of Paul Ryan as speaker of the House. Once Ryan retakes the helm, he'll oversee the oath administration to House members.

  • The vetting process will begin in the Senate for some of President-elect Trump's more eyebrow-raising administration picks, including "foreclosure king" Steve Mnuchin, tapped as Treasury chief, and Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil CEO with questionable ties to Russia in line to be secretary of state. One confirmation expected to sail through: retired Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary.
  • The biggest hunk on the legislative chopping block: ObamaCare. But the Times notes any immediate moves against the health care law would be "largely symbolic" as the GOP scrambles to work out the details and come up with their own alternative—which means a full repeal might not happen until after midterm elections.
  • Blocking or pulling back on regulations will be another priority of the Congress, per USA Today, with a bill expected that would give the GOP-controlled Congress approval power over any new federal regulations, as well as a "Midnight Rules Act" that would give Congress sway to nullify in bulk any rules passed during a president's final year in office.
  • Citizens are nervously watching the outcome for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, with MinnPost noting that "any movement from the GOP" in terms of entitlement reform "could bring some of the messiest politics of 2017."
  • Also on deck: a major tax revamp, the dismantling of Obama-placed environmental regulations, and the nomination of a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia, per the Independent. "It's a big job to actually have responsibility and produce results," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday, per the New York Times. "And we intend to do it."
  • Not that the Republicans' hold on Congress guarantees a unified GOP front: The Times notes "internal disputes" have resulted in no "clear plan yet for Trump's first 100 days, or an endgame for the two years of the 115th Congress." Also complicating matters for the GOP: the president-elect's "often shifting views" on big issues and a "willingness to skirt ideological rigidity."
(Also on the Congress itinerary for Tuesday: a vote on a proposal to "effectively kill" the Office of Congressional Ethics.)

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |