Republicans want to grease tracks for Trump

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Republicans in Congress want to hit the ground running when Donald Trump takes office as the nation’s 45th president.  

GOP lawmakers say they expect to pass an ObamaCare repeal in January and then move immediately to Trump’s Cabinet nominees. 

{mosads}Also on the agenda for the first three months are an infrastructure investment package, a budget with special instructions to pave the way for comprehensive tax reform and a rollback of regulations promulgated by the Obama administration since June. 

Republican lawmakers hope to move faster than Democrats in 2009, when that party controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House under President Obama.

They see a once-in-a-generation chance to reshape the government on conservative principles given their party’s control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“January is going to be filled with all kinds of things,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who is expecting a fast-paced first 100 days for Trump.

Another lawmaker told The Hill the expectation is that Congress will be in session all of January.

“I would expect four or five or six Cabinet members to move right away,” the lawmaker said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has instructed committee chairmen to get as much work done as possible before Trump takes the oath of office.

With Democratic senators facing an unfavorable map in 2018’s midterm elections, he hopes to build pressure on red-state Democrats to back GOP legislation and Trump nominations.

“I can tell you where we’re going to start: with a process to repeal and replace ObamaCare,” he said this week. “The other thing we’re going to do is encourage all of our committee chairmen to go on and have hearings and markups on the Cabinet appointments.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) says he’s ready to move a budget for fiscal year 2017 containing special instructions to repeal the Affordable Care Act as soon as the Senate comes back into session on Jan. 3. 

“It’s not only feasible, it’s essential. It’s going to be a transition to repeal of ObamaCare,” he explained, noting that while the entire law cannot be dismantled under the budget process known as reconciliation, large chunks of it can be scrapped. 

“We’ll be moving it as fast as possible, but it will be subject to change,” he added.

The GOP plan is to pass the budget, which can come directly to the floor, and then a short time later the reconciliation vehicle repealing major parts of the healthcare law. The special budgetary protection allows Republicans to pass it with a simple majority vote.

Republican lawmakers briefed on the plan say it will likely include a three-year phase in to give them time to work on replacement legislation.

GOP senators hope they can get the repeal bill on Trump’s desk soon after he takes the oath of office. 

“We want to give the president the tools to do what he wants on healthcare,” said a senior Senate GOP aide. “We want to set the table for him. Why wait?”

Senate Republicans hope to hold several votes on Trump’s Cabinet nominees as soon as he takes office. One of the first to move will be Trump’s pick to serve as attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), whose nomination has drawn early Democratic opposition. 

Eight attorneys general going back to Herbert Brownell in 1953 have received hearings before the inauguration of a new president, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under Obama and testified before the Judiciary Committee on Jan. 15, 2009. 

It’s also possible that the Senate Judiciary Committee could seek to confirm a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court shortly after Sessions is confirmed.

Other committees are also seeking to move quickly.

The Finance Committee will ask Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s choice to head the Treasury Department, to submit a questionnaire and full copies of his tax returns for review. 

Once the panel completes its vetting process, it will schedule a date for a hearing.

Republican sources say the timeline for moving a major infrastructure package, one of the centerpieces of Trump’s campaign, will depend on the new administration. 

Lawmakers predict it will move quickly because the Trump administration can use the six-year highway bill that passed in 2015 as a springboard. 

“I think you move something like that pretty quickly because we have a highway bill that you can move a lot from,” said Capito, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over infrastructure.

The other major focus of Republicans in the first few months of next year will be to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal regulations enacted by the Obama administration since the end of May. 

Lawmakers say various committee chairmen and members will target regulations falling within their jurisdiction. No single member will head the effort, at least for now.

“The priority of the folks in the country is better jobs, so what can we do to get better jobs? A lot of that is going to be regulatory reform,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). 

Senate Republicans plan to pass a second budget resolution by mid April with special instructions under the reconciliation rule paving the way for a comprehensive tax reform package to pass sometime later in the new Congress. 

The Senate Budget Committee has until April 1 to report a new budget resolution, and Congress must complete action on it by April 15. 

A group of lawmakers led by freshman Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R) are hoping to include reforms overhauling the budget process for future Congresses.

Senators say they expect Republican leaders in both chambers to reach for a comprehensive tax package that would rewrite the code for both individual and corporate filers. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) are taking the lead on the measure, which will move first in the House. 

McConnell has argued repeatedly this Congress that it does not make sense to only reform corporate tax rates, because many companies file as so-called pass-through entities under individual tax rates.

Tags Donald Trump Eric Holder Jeff Sessions Kevin Brady Mike Enzi Mitch McConnell ObamaCare Paul Ryan regulations Shelley Moore Capito Supreme Court

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