This week: Congressional Republicans prepare to huddle with Trump
© Greg Nash

It’s the first full week members of Congress get to work with a President Trump.

House and Senate Republicans plan to huddle with Trump and Vice President Pence this week at their annual retreat in Philadelphia.

The new president is expected to address Republicans during the retreat as the party tries to chart a path forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) said at a CNN town hall this month that the GOP will “definitely” act on ObamaCare within Trump’s first 100 days in office, through the end of April.


Such a promise is drawing skepticism, however, from Democrats who spent 2009 and 2010 drafting legislation and corralling votes to pass ObamaCare. Even fellow Republicans worry about the wisdom of a strategy to rush ahead to repeal the law without a replacement ready.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.), asked if it was unclear who was “running” the GOP repeal effort, quickly replied: “Right. I agree.”

He acknowledged that until Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is confirmed to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, “you’re probably going to hear a lot of mixed messages.”

Trump and congressional Republicans also want to push ahead with proposals to reform the tax code, encourage infrastructure investment and provide taxpayer funding to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Neither Trump nor GOP lawmakers have outlined how they would fulfill Trump’s campaign pledge, which includes making Mexico pay for the wall.

Meanwhile, some Senate Republicans, including Sens. John CornynJohn CornynMental health: The power of connecting requires the power of investing Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Cornyn says he 'would be surprised' if GOP tries to unseat Sinema in 2024 MORE (Texas) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeRubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees Senate confirms Thomas Nides as US ambassador to Israel Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay MORE (Ariz.), have signaled for Trump to take a broader approach that includes fencing and increased surveillance and technology along the border.

Those are all questions to be discussed in Philadelphia in Trump’s opening days in office.


The Senate will continue slogging through Trump’s nominations after confirming two picks last week — retired Gen. James Mattis to lead the Pentagon and retired Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Senators are expected to hold up to six hours of debate on Monday before taking a final vote on Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to lead the CIA.

Lawmakers voted on Friday evening to proceed to Pompeo’s nomination as part of a deal brokered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive issues that will define the months until the midterms  Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian MORE (D-N.Y.).

Republicans initially wanted to approve up to seven nominees, including Pompeo, on Friday — the number President Obama got on the same day as his 2009 inauguration.

But Democrats are pledging to draw out public debate over Trump’s Cabinet picks, whom they argue deserve extra scrutiny because of their wealth and ties to industries that they’ll be responsible for overseeing.  

Schumer warned on Friday night that while they will quickly vote on Pompeo, Republicans shouldn’t expect a speedy confirmation for Trump’s other picks.

After Pompeo, “we intend to have a full and rigorous debate on the president’s remaining nominees,” he said, adding that Republicans have “made a mockery of the Cabinet hearings process.”

Republicans have blasted Democrats, arguing they are applying higher standards to Trump’s nominees than they did to Obama.

They also warned that Democrats are risking national security by holding up Pompeo.

“There’s just no excuse for not confirming the CIA director today,” Cornyn said. “It’s been what 15, 16 years since 9/11 ... and this is a vulnerability when we make a transition from one administration to the next."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is also expected to take a vote Monday on Rex Tillerson’s nomination to be secretary of State.

Corker, the chairman of the committee, told reporters on Friday evening that the vote was still “in flux” but that Tillerson would be moved to the floor even if he didn’t get majority support.

Republicans hold a one-seat advantage on the committee, but Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE (R-Fla.) hasn’t announced how he will vote.


The House is only in session for two days this week, since Republicans will leave for the retreat on Wednesday morning.

The main item on tap for the House will be legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to codify existing law that bans the use of federal funding for abortions.

House Republicans have regularly scheduled votes on bills to restrict abortion rights to coincide with the annual March for Life to protest the Roe v. Wade ruling. This year’s march will be on Friday.

None of the abortion measures passed by House Republicans in recent years have made it past a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

But this year, a GOP president inclined to sign the bill is in the White House. Top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway is one of the scheduled speakers at this year’s march.

The bill would also permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from using its local funds approved by Congress for abortion services.

The city’s non-voting representative in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), blasted Smith for offering legislation she can’t vote on that affects her constituents.

"D.C. should be able to spend its local tax dollars on policies and programs without politically-motivated interference by Members of Congress, who are unaccountable to the 680,000 American citizens living in the District,” Norton said in a statement.

Smith’s bill does provide exceptions for cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy is putting the mother’s life in danger.