Republican-controlled US Congress has Obama’s legacy in its sights

Given a boost by Donald Trump’s victory in the November 8 presidential election, Republicans hope to dismantle the Obama administration’s healthcare policies as well as environmental and financial industry regulations.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Although President-elect Trump’s policies are supported by Republican lawmakers, he may face a battle in getting the support needed in the Senate for his controversial cabinet picks.

The Republican-led US Congress begins a new session on Tuesday where it will start pursuing President-elect Donald Trump's agenda of tax cuts, repealing Obamacare, and the rollback of financial and environmental regulations.

With Trump set to be sworn in as president on January 20, Republican lawmakers hope to get a quick start on priorities that were blocked during Democratic President Barack Obama's eight years in the White House. (Reuters)

Since his election on November 8, the Republican president-elect has made clear he wants to move swiftly to enact proposals he outlined during the campaign such as simplifying the tax code, slashing corporate tax rates and repealing and replacing Obama's signature health insurance program – the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.


The law aims to provide health insurance to economically disadvantaged people and expand coverage for others.

Republicans have long sought to dismantle Obamacare, insisting it was unworkable and hampered job growth. But they face a dilemma over how to provide health insurance for the 13.8 million people enrolled in Obamacare who could lose their coverage.

Leading Democrats warned on Monday of a fierce battle over Obamacare.

"We're going to fight as hard as ever to protect the ACA,” said Representative Steny Hoyer, the House's second-ranking Democrat.

Speaking to reporters, Hoyer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said they would launch an effort to mobilise grassroots support for Obamacare by explaining how repeal would create a ripple effect hurting a majority of Americans.

Obama is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with congressional Democrats to discuss strategies for fending off the Republican attacks on the law.

Battle ahead over Trump nominations

The Senate will have more than legislation on its hands in the new year.

It has the task of debating and voting on the appointees Trump has announced to head his Cabinet departments and for other top jobs in the new administration.

Several of Trump's cabinet picks are controversial: Steven Mnuchin (top row, third from left) – appointed Treasury Secretary – for his links to Wall Street, RexTillerson (top row, furthest right) – appointed Secretary of State – for his links to Russia, and Stephen Bannon (bottom row, furthest right) – appointed Chief White House Strategist and Senior Counselor – for his links to the Alt-right. (Reuters)

Prominent Republican Senator John McCain has warned that Rex Tillerson, Trump's choice for secretary of state, will have to explain his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom McCain has called a "thug and a murderer."

Tillerson, who spent much his career at Exxon Mobil Corp, has been involved in business dealings in Russia and opposed US sanctions against the country for its incursion into Crimea. (Reuters)

Democrats are also poised to attack the nomination of successful private equity investor and hedge fund manager Steven Mnuchin, who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs and whose nomination came after Trump's campaign promised to tackle Wall Street influence in Washington.

Nevertheless, Trump is expected to win approval of most, if not all, of his cabinet nominees.

The Senate also is expected to receive a Supreme Court nomination early on from Trump, triggering a likely confirmation war.

Republicans refused to consider Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland last year.

TRTWorld and agencies