BY CRISTINA MARCOS
01/11/17 The Hill
Congress is readying for a full-on sprint once President-elect Donald Trump takes office next week.
Republicans are hoping to capitalize on Trump’s momentum during his first 100 days to enact a host of legislation. Repealing ObamaCare is first on the docket, while funding an expansion of the “big, beautiful wall” along the Mexican border famously promised by Trump could be the critical period’s grand finale.
Here are five areas most likely to be prioritized in the first 100 days.
GOP leaders in the House and Senate are pushing through a budget this week that will start the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act. They’re hoping to be able to have it on Trump’s desk by the time he takes office next Friday.
But when it comes to replacing the law they’ve railed against for the last seven years, Republicans are nowhere near a consensus. An increasing number of GOP lawmakers, ranging from centrists to members of the far right, are expressing concern about repealing the law without a replacement plan ready to go.
“We do have members who feel if we don’t do them together, the replacement may never happen,” Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a close Trump ally, told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.
Trump on Tuesday pushed Republicans to offer a replacement plan as soon as possible, rather than wait years like some lawmakers initially envisioned.
One way to bring some wary Republicans back on board could be including some parts of a replacement plan with the measure to repeal the healthcare law, such as expanding the use of health savings accounts.
There’s little Democrats in either chamber can do to stop the GOP from scaling back the law they enacted seven years ago. The budget measure being used as a vehicle to begin the repeal process only requires a simple majority under Senate procedure, depriving Democrats of filibuster power.
Republicans also plan to cut Planned Parenthood funding as part of their move to repeal the healthcare law.
High on the list of GOP priorities is legislation to reform the tax code. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) met with members of Trump’s incoming administration Monday night to discuss the House GOP tax reform blueprint unveiled last summer.
The House GOP’s tax proposal, released as part of the “Better Way” platform, would lower tax rates for individuals and businesses and overhaul the IRS. Trump’s tax plan released during the campaign would similarly lower tax rates for individuals, but lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent compared to the House GOP’s 20 percent.
The House Republican blueprint would lower tax rates for individuals and businesses, eliminate some existing tax preferences and revamp the IRS. It would also move the corporate tax system toward a consumption-based system.
Members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee are spearheading the effort to draft tax reform legislation, using the Better Way proposal as a starting point.
Consideration of tax reform legislation could come by mid-April, when the House and Senate GOP roll out another budget by the April 15 deadline. Republicans want to use one budget to repeal the healthcare law and another for tax reform so they can take advantage of a procedure that bypasses a Senate filibuster.
Legislation to spend money on the nation’s roads, bridges and airports likely won’t be unveiled until later in the spring, after Trump’s 100th day in office. But lawmakers will work on finding ways to pay for the proposal in the coming weeks.
“We’re going to start to work on it, but first of all, you’ve got to figure out the pay-fors, which will come, I believe, in the first 100 days,” House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said this month. “Then in the next second 100 days is when we’ll put together a big infrastructure package.”
Trump has floated a $1 trillion proposal that would offer federal tax credits to private entities that invest in infrastructure projects.
Top Democrats expressed openness to working with Trump on such a proposal in the weeks after the election, seeing it as one area of potential common ground with the new president. But others, like up-and-coming Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), warned that his party should be wary of a “privatization scheme, rife with graft and corruption.”
House Republicans have dedicated their floor schedule for the first two weeks of the new Congress to legislation that would scale back regulations. They have already passed two bills that would give Congress more power to reject major rules and undo new regulations issued in the Obama administration’s final months.
They’re also debating legislation this week that would automatically delay rules that cost more than $1 billion annually.
Those efforts are in line with Trump, who wants to establish a new rule requiring agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one proposed.
GOP lawmakers can also use a law known as the Congressional Review Act to pass a resolution of disapproval to overturn a regulation 60 legislative days after it goes into effect. Regulations from the Obama administration that could get axed under that law include standards meant to protect streams affected by coal mining and the expansion of overtime pay.
A deadline to renew funding for the federal government will coincide with the end of the 100-day period. That could potentially set up an epic showdown with Democrats over funding construction of a wall along the Mexican border.
Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, a notion dismissed by the Mexican government. GOP leaders and Trump’s transition team have discussed using taxpayer dollars to begin work on the wall, and then forcing Mexico to pay back the money later.
As first reported by Politico and CNN, Republicans could turn to a 2006 law that authorized construction of a more than 700-mile “physical barrier” on the border with Mexico. Since the law never expired, Trump and congressional Republicans could pick up where the Bush administration left off.
Adding the funding to a must-pass spending bill would force Democrats to either accept building the wall or risk a government shutdown.
Such a clash would serve as a test of both Democrats’ opposition strategy and Trump’s ability to keep a central campaign pledge in high-stakes negotiations.
Link : http://thehill.com/homenews/house/313668-what-congress-could-do-in-trumps-first-100-days