The 115th Congress opened on Tuesday January 3, 2017. Republicans control the House with a majority of 241 to 194 and the Senate with a majority of 52 to 48.
Opening day included some turmoil as members of the Republican Party endeavored to eliminate its independent Congressional Ethics Office despite opposition from House Speaker Paul Ryan. President-elect Donald Trump also tweeted his disapproval of scrapping the COE. “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it.” Ultimately, Congress reconsidered and left the Ethics Office intact.
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also made some headlines with his comments about President-elect Trump. “Making America great again requires more than 140 characters per issue,” and that “America cannot afford a Twitter presidency.” Schumer said.
The NY Democrat also commented, “It is not our job to be a rubber stamp. If the president-elect proposes legislation that achieves that — on issues like infrastructure, trade, and closing the carried interest loophole, for instance — we will work in good faith to perfect and, potentially, enact it. When he doesn’t, we will resist.”
The topic of repealing and replacing Obamacare figured prominently on day one. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released legislative language which could dismantle elements of The Affordable Care Act. Congress only has until January 27th to produce legislation which would undo President Obama’s signature policy. And thanks to former House Minority Leader Harry Reid, the new legislation could be passed with a simple Senate majority with a Democratic filibuster avoided.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) delivered the most memorable poorly articulated plea to save Obamacare. “It’s the old thing of going into a china shop — you break it, you own it,” she said. Actually, one could argue that Obamacare was already broken when the initial package was first put on the conveyor belt. On Wednesday, January 4, President Barack Obama is meeting with Senate Democrats to try so save Obamacare while Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is meeting with Republican leaders to discuss repealing it.
Congress’s first day also marked the beginning of attempted delays for the Trump Cabinet selections with California Senator Diane Feinstein, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee writing to Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa (R), the Committee Chairman requesting a delay in the confirmation hearings for Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), President-elect Trump’s choice for Attorney General which are currently scheduled for next week.
The 115th Congress includes 55 new members including Charlie Christ, the former Republican Florida Governor who switched party affiliations in 2010 who will represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District, Liz Cheney (R), daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who landed Wyoming’s only House Seat and Jimmy Panetta, son of the former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta who will represent California’s 20th District.
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