New GOP Congress confronts a crushing to-do list

Contentious confirmation fights, a GOP assault on Obamacare — and, more than likely, hints of Republican infighting to come.

 

Welcome to the new Congress.

 

Since Republicans will control all the levers of power in Washington for the first time in almost a decade, they’ll hit the ground running on some issues: Both chambers, for example, hope to pass a budget blueprint that makes a critical down payment on repealing Obamacare even before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

 

But it won’t take long for the inherent divide between Senate and House Republicans to rear its head. The House wants to pass a number of bills to scrap Obama-era rules and curb executive branch regulatory powers. But those will be a much heavier lift in the upper chamber.

 

Here’s a look at what Hill Republicans will try to accomplish the first month of the 115th Congress — and their likelihood of success.

 

Obamacare repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed that the chamber’s first vote of the year will be to scrap President Barack Obama’s health care law. The Kentucky Republican is making good on that promise this week by bringing to the floor a budget that would unlock a fast-track process enabling Republicans to jam repeal through Congress along party lines.

 

After the Senate acts, the House will follow suit, as soon as the second week back from the holiday recess. And Republicans hope to clear the budget before Trump’s inauguration.

 

Technically, the bill won’t include an official repeal. Rather, the fast-track process, known as reconciliation, contains instructions for committees to write repeal bills. Republicans want to pass repeal legislation in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, but there could be disagreements about which elements of Obamacare they want to demolish and how to achieve their goals.

 

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