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New U.S. Congress Prepares To Undo Obamacare, Weigh Trump Picks

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New U.S. Congress Prepares To Undo Obamacare, Weigh Trump Picks

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new, Republican-controlled U.S. Congress convenes on Tuesday eager to repeal major portions of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law and roll back environmental and financial industry regulations, but could quickly become embroiled in fights over President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet choices.

Despite his promise to unite a deeply divided country, Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20 leading a Republican Party that early on will push legislation through Congress without significant – or any – Democratic support.

According to a Gallup poll released on Monday, Trump will take office with less than half of Americans confident in his ability to handle an international crisis, use military force wisely or prevent major ethics lapses in his administration.

Leading Democrats on Monday warned of a fierce fight over Obamacare, which is expected to have 13.8 million people enrolled in the program that aims to provide health insurance to economically disadvantaged people and to expand coverage for others.

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

Vice President-elect Mike Pence will meet with his fellow House Republicans the same day to rally them on repealing Obamacare, Politico reported.

Republicans in coming weeks will try to steer legislation through Congress using procedures that would not require Democratic cooperation. Their bill, which has not been unveiled, is expected to repeal Obamacare, but postpone the actions for two or three years while also maintaining some of the law’s provisions.

“We’re going to fight as hard as ever to protect the ACA (Affordable Care Act), said Representative Steny Hoyer, the House of Representatives’ second-ranking Democrat.

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

For years, Republicans have hammered away at Obamacare, insisting it was unworkable and was hampering job growth. With control of Congress and the White House, they will be in a position to enact a repeal bill.

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

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

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

Prominent 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 U.S. sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Crimea.

Meanwhile, Democrats are expected to oppose Republican Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, in part because of his opposition to immigration and past remarks that showed racial insensitivity.

And given Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington of special interests, especially Wall Street influence, Democrats are also poised to attack the nomination of Steven Mnuchin to be treasury secretary.

Mnuchin is a successful private equity investor and hedge fund manager who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

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

Besides Obamacare repeal, Republicans also want to curtail or block regulations aimed at controlling industrial emissions that contribute to climate change and banking industry reforms enacted in the wake of the near-collapse of Wall Street several years ago.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who waged bitter battles against Obama over the past eight years, has warned his fellow Republicans against overreaching following their Nov. 8 election victories.

In an interview with Kentucky Educational Television on Dec. 19, McConnell said, “It’s certainly no time for hubris” and there is “not much I can do (legislatively) with Republicans only in the U.S. Senate.”

While he repeatedly called for removing Obamacare “root and branch,” McConnell said in the interview that his top priorities for the new Congress were dealing with “massive overregulation” that he said has been a brake on the U.S. economy and accomplishing tax code changes to stop companies from moving jobs offshore.

(Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

IMAGE: The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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9 Comments

  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 2, 2017

    The GOP is playing a game with the well-being of others when they say they’re going to repeal, yet are quick to say they have yet to unveil a replacement—due in 3-4 years. In the meantime, Congress is willing to keep people in suspense adding extra stress which may complicate existing conditions people might have.
    Instead of providing a sense of calm, the GOP was all too willing to take out their long-standing collective animus towards President Obama by being too busy absorbed with whining about the ACA w/o using their collective efforts to come up with a replacement.

    It’s the lazy way out of thinking to complain and whine rather than exert mental effort to be creative enough to come up with an alternative—a clear reflection of a huge segment of the electorate who chose them.

    On another front, the GOP is primed to emit more sulfides and carbon into the air and making sure that regulations are dismantled in order to further acidify lakes and streams all to make profits for fossil fuel industries, thus insuring a slow steady death of fish and other wildlife while poisoning their children’s water and air supply—again, all for money.

    Is there no spiritual sentiment left in the GOP’s desiccating carcasses?

    Reply
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  2. itsfun January 3, 2017

    Writer says “Despite his promise to unite a deeply divided country, Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20 leading a Republican Party that early on will push legislation through Congress without significant – or any – Democratic support.” Isn’t that how Obamacare got passed? Not one Republican voted for it. I guess whats good for the goose is not good for the gander after all. I don’t think the whole Obamacare plan needs to be repealed, but a lot of it needs to be replaced or fixed. The rate increases are terrible, I read this morning that the average policy is now $4300. What happened to the $2500 Obama promised. Remember he said the premiums would be no more than your average cell phone bill? People couldn’t keep their doctors or their policies. Things like making men pay for maternity care and women paying for ED care are crazy. So far out of 23 co-ops 18 are out of business. Over 1000 counties only have one company for their insurance. The coverage mandates must be changed to allow individuals to pick what coverages they want or need. How many people in their 20’s need the same coverages as someone in their 60’s. We do need some form of health care, but what we now have needs to be fixed. I don’t care what we call it, just fix it.

    Reply
    1. johninPCFL January 3, 2017

      “Isn’t that how Obamacare got passed? “: No. ACA was passed through the Senate with 168 GOP amendments. In the House it got zero GOP support.

      1. itsfun January 3, 2017

        Yes it is how it got passed. Not one Republican in either the House or Senate voted to pass it – not one. That is why dirty Harry resorted to using the nuclear option to pass it. Obama did say it would cost 2500, no matter what excuse you use. He promised that. People couldn’t keep their policies because of the stupid mandated coverages in the Obamacare tax. Men didn’t have maternity coverage because men don’t get pregnant. Now the law makes them buy maternity coverage. The law makes women buy maternity coverage, so why do both people need it?????? The limited choices are because companies went out of business because of the failure of Obamacare, not a state law. Die quickly is part of Obamacare with its death panels. Obama’s administration is the one that said living to 75 is enough for anyone, not the Republicans. The Obamacare tax law is a complete failure and so costly it is nothing but a burden on society.

        1. johninPCFL January 4, 2017

          Odd that 168 GOP amendments got added, and then none of the gutless wonders voted for the bill they had just finished amending. Ah well. I guess party trumped country.

          Obama isn’t Agent Orange and doesn’t control what private companies do. Since the inscos can charge whatever they want under Obama, maybe you’ll have better luck under Comrade Agent Orange.

          There are no death panels under ACA. Death panels are part of “pre-existing conditions” used by inscos to limit coverage to people who really need it. They’ll be coming back now that the GOP is repealing ACA.

          “75 is enough for anyone”: more bullshit by you and the GOP. Aged people who want to talk to their doctors about end-of-life circumstances previously couldn’t unless the doctor wanted to talk for free. ACA covers the doctor’s fees for those conversations.

          I see the GOP has already entered bills for the repeal of ACA. Now that’s good news, right? Finally, the inscos will be back in charge!

          1. itsfun January 4, 2017

            Repeal and replace not just repeal. You believe what you want, but Obama’s administration did say 75 is old enough for anyone. President Trump get use to it.

          2. johninPCFL January 4, 2017

            REPEAL is all the GOP is pitching. “Replace” is a joke to them – they’re talking about a few years to come up with the plan. They’re banking on the populace forgetting all about “replace”.

            “The Obama Administration” said nothing of the kind. Palin and the rest of the idiots opposing insurance reform invented all kinds of bullshit. Apparently you fell for it.

            I’ve been saying Agent Orange won for two months. Look at previous posts.

  3. dpaano January 3, 2017

    I can bet that most of the 13.8M people that will lose their Obamacare benefits were Trump voters! That should be a real slap in the face. As for climate control and doing away with EPA regulations….maybe we need to send the Republican Congress to China to see how they deal with the pollution there! Even China has done much more to control pollution than the U.S., and you’d think that Trump and his clueless cronies would learn something from them! As was once stated, “we are not scientists,” is true….they have NO idea what causes the environmental problems that we are seeing more and more of each day! Pretty soon, we’ll all be walking around with surgical masks on like they have in China!! And, guess what, we’ll have the stupid climate control deniers to thank for that!

    Reply

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