Posted by 24 January 2017
In early January, members of Congress returned to Washington with an aggressive legislative agenda. Even though Barack Obama was still president during the first few weeks of the month, representatives and senators were busy passing laws that reflect the priorities of the incoming president, Donald Trump.
President Obama would have likely vetoed many, if not all, of the bills passed by Congress during this time. However, President Trump is almost certain to welcome them if they make it through both houses of Congress. These bills lay the foundation for presidential action during Trump’s first 100 days in office.
Here are some of the things that Congress has done so far:
Cleared the way for General Mattis to be Secretary of Defense: federal law prohibits anyone who has served in the military during the past 7 years from being Secretary of Defense. This prohibition would have disqualified Trump’s pick for Defense Secretary, General James Mattis. Both the House and Senate passed a bill that essentially waives this requirement for Gen. Mattis.
Set budget rules for Obamacare repeal: President Trump has made no secret of his desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Senate rejected a series of amendments to its budget resolution that would have prevented that body from considering repeal legislation. These amendments were designed to highlight what Democrats consider problems with repealing the law, such as cutting Medicaid or ending the mandate for contraceptive coverage. When the Senate passed its budget bill, it set in motion a process that will allow certain repeal legislation to proceed with a majority vote. That will prevent Democrats from using a filibuster to stop such bills.
Revamped regulatory process: it has been a regular practice for presidents to propose a large number of regulatory changes during their final weeks in office. President Obama has been no exception, and his proposed regulations have drawn the ire of Congress. To end the “last minute” regulatory push by lame duck presidents, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow Congress to reject these rules as a whole. Current law allows Congress to reject rules one-by-one, but this is a time consuming process. The House also passed a bill that would require Congressional approval of regulations that would have an economic impact of $100 million or more. Another bill passed by the House would require the issuance of less-costly regulations, make it easier for judges to overturn new rules, and prevent large regulations from taking effect until court actions against them are completed.
What do you think should be the legislative priorities of President Trump and Congress?