Trump, GOP plot ambitious agenda

Congressional Republicans, who were bracing for major losses on Election Day, are now drafting an ambitious agenda that will seek to torpedo President Obama’s major accomplishments over the last eight years.

With Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE’s shocking presidential victory and the GOP keeping control of the Senate and a comfortable majority in the House, the party is well-positioned to play offense in 2017.


Republican lawmakers on Wednesday were already talking about reaching out to Democrats to put together a package to repeal key parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare, and replace it with other reforms, such as letting insurance companies sell across state lines.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters Wednesday that repealing ObamaCare will be one of the top priorities of the new Congress.

“It’s a pretty high item on our agenda as you know,” McConnell said. “I would be shocked if we didn’t move forward to keep our commitment to the American people.”

McConnell called it “the single worst piece of legislation among many pieces of legislation passed in the first two years of the Obama presidency. The sooner we can go in a different direction, the better.”

The GOP leader made his comments after speaking to Trump and Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBill Maher says he's 'glad' David Koch is dead Five things to know about David Koch Former sheriff's deputy files lawsuit claiming he was fired for not wanting to be alone with a woman MORE.

Rising ObamaCare premiums, announced this fall, provided Republicans some momentum.

McConnell declined to say whether Senate Republicans would repeal the landmark healthcare law with a party-line vote under a special process known as budgetary reconciliation. That would require only 51 votes. The new Congress will have 52 Senate Republicans. 

One of McConnell’s biggest criticisms of Senate Democrats is that they passed the law in 2010 without any bipartisan buy-in.

One of his deputies, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerWill Congress act to stop robocalls? Hillicon Valley: Trump reportedly weighing executive action on alleged tech bias | WH to convene summit on online extremism | Federal agencies banned from buying Huawei equipment | Lawmakers jump start privacy talks The Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? MORE (Miss.), told reporters earlier in the day that he hoped the special budgetary process might not be necessary and that Democrats might be willing to negotiate reforms. 

“Let’s see if we can reach some sort of consensus with our Democrat friends on trying to make this repeal and replace [work],” Wicker said. “I would hope that members of the Democratic Party are looking at the election results … and also not only that but the premium increases and would understand that the American people are dissatisfied with this failed program.”

Many red-state Democrats are up for reelection in 2018, including Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Mo.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump awards Medal of Freedom to NBA legend Bob Cousy Overnight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west MORE (W.Va.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (N.D.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (Mont.). 

Trump has proposed replacing ObamaCare with health savings accounts and allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines in all 50 states.

Republicans have used reconciliation previously to get around the Senate’s filibuster and approve an ObamaCare repeal.

There’s a keen sense of urgency among Republican lawmakers, who realize after six years of split government that they have a rare opportunity before them.

McConnell said he expects the GOP-controlled Congress to work closely with Trump and to negotiate quietly behind the scenes over issues where they disagree, such as trade.  

One major issue looming is the vacancy on the Supreme Court created in February when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died.

Republicans expect Trump to nominate a conservative in Scalia’s mold whom they will move through Judiciary Committee hearings and to a floor vote in the first few months of 2017. Trump has floated conservative jurists such as Diane Sykes, a member of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and William Pryor, a judge on the 11th Circuit Court.

It’s a dramatic turn from only a few days ago, when Republicans were bracing for a battle with Democrats over immigration reform and a liberal Supreme Court nominee.

GOP strategists, even ones close to the Trump campaign, gave themselves little chance of keeping the White House as recently as Tuesday afternoon. CNN’s Jim Acosta reported shortly before the polls closed that a Trump adviser confided that it would take a “miracle” to win.

Now pro-business proposals that seemed destined for partisan gridlock have a real chance of becoming law because Republicans control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Wall Street rallied Wednesday and the Dow Jones industrial average hit an all-time high of 18,589.

On deck is an overhaul of the nation’s tax code that would close loopholes and cut rates, a major deregulatory push and tighter security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

McConnell said Wednesday that a broad package reforming tax rates for individuals, small businesses and corporations may be within reach next year — a goal many Republicans had given up on for the near term.

“He talked about tax reform,” McConnell said of Trump’s campaign pledges. “I think this is really important.”

Trump has proposed condensing the current seven tax brackets into three and lowering the rate for the nation’s highest income earners to 33 percent.

New York Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? MORE, who is set to take over as Senate Democratic leader, had been negotiating a far more modest package with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Soaring deficits could put Trump in a corner if there's a recession Paul Ryan moving family to Washington MORE (R-Wis.) earlier this year in anticipation of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump takes aim at media after 'hereby' ordering US businesses out of China Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Taylor Swift says Trump is 'gaslighting the American public' MORE winning.

The other top Trump priority is building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which drew plenty of criticism on the campaign trail.

McConnell stopped short of committing to funding the construction of a massive wall running hundreds of miles through the desert but expressed strong support for tougher border security.

“We’re going to be talking to the president[-elect] about his agenda. Border security is important,” he said. “Achieving border security is something I think should be high on the list.”

Comprehensive immigration reform such as a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, which Democrat Clinton planned to move in her first 100 days in office if elected, is likely dead.

On the foreign policy front, GOP lawmakers are looking toward a tougher approach against radical Islamic terrorism and re-implementing sanctions against Iran.

Trump repeatedly bashed Clinton and Obama throughout the campaign for telegraphing its military plans, giving militants time to flee U.S. strikes. Trump has called for aggressive operations to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He has called for rebuilding the military and improving intelligence capabilities, which will likely require more funding from Congress. 

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (Texas) called the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism “real and growing” in his statement congratulating Trump on his victory.

GOP priorities that had seemed dead now have new life, such as construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama shelved. 

Republicans also say the tide has turned in what they call Obama’s war on coal. McConnell noted Wednesday that many of the new regulations affecting the coal industry were passed unilaterally by the Obama administration and can be unraveled by Trump without congressional action.

Before kicking off the 115th Congress, however, congressional Republicans need to wrap up unfinished business in the lame-duck session scheduled for late November and December.

Lawmakers must figure out a way to fund the government beyond Dec. 9 either through a long-term continuing resolution that freezes spending levels or an omnibus package that sets new funding priorities. Another measure that is likely to pass is the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill funding innovative healthcare research.