U.S. Republicans heading into the 114th session of Congress Tuesday have a laundry list of legislative goals that might best be summed up as undoing much of President Barack Obama’s work of the past six years, including dismantling parts or all of the Affordable Care Act, banking reform, energy policy, and environmental regulation. As the legislators convene under full GOP control for the first time since 2006, read on to see the top three items on Senate and House Republicans’ to-do list for 2015.
The Keystone XL pipeline
Jobs, jobs, jobs: Republicans see the Canada-to-the-Gulf-Coast oil way as an easy job creator, and an alternative to oil from the Middle East. Getting it built is their No. 1 priority, and the Senate’s first piece of legislation will seek to approve the pipeline. The president and some Democrats have opposed the pipeline over environmental concerns. After five years of delays over legal challenges, a new committee will begin looking at the legality of the pipeline on Wednesday.
Also high on the to-do list is repealing Obamacare, which no Republican voted for when it passed. But given the Affordable Care Act is one of Obama’s major policy wins, a congressional vote to repeal it would almost certainty face a presidential veto. There are not enough congressional votes to override the veto, so Republicans will likely hack piecemeal at the healthcare law, such as increasing the definition of full-time to anyone working 40 hours a week up from 30 hours a week. Doing so could put in jeopardy the healthcare for 500,000 workers, according to a report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Another 500,000 to 1 million workers would be forced to Medicaid or another healthcare exchange.
A “tooth and nail” fight has been promised by House Speaker John Boehner against the president’s actions on immigration. In November, Obama passed an executive action allowing an estimated 5 million undocumented workers to remain in the U.S. The order was widely criticized by Republicans, who will be using a standoff over funding for the Department of Homeland Security to force Obama to rescind. (DHS is in charge of implementing immigration policy.) In it’s place, Republicans will try to pass laws that strengthen the U.S.-Mexico border and discourage immigration.
On the budget front, Obama has until Feb. 2 to submit a proposal for the 2016 fiscal year. It’s likely to include a call for more defense spending in part to double down on the battle against ISIL. But Republicans have vowed to slash the size of government via the budget, including potentially targeting entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, according to The Hill.
Also look for Republicans to pushback on restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, more investigations into the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack, and opposing the closing of tax loopholes for corporations.