While Congress passed a number of significant pieces of legislation this year, including tax reform and regulation cuts, it failed to deliver key aspects of President Donald Trump’s agenda, such as fully repealing Obamacare and building a southern border wall.
Here is the status of President Trump’s legislative agenda:
In December, Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which featured massive tax cuts for middle-class families and small businesses. The tax reform legislation also repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate and opens up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
Congress is going to have three enormous legsilative accomplishments this year — tax reform, Obamacare mandate repeal, ANWR — and they happen to all be in the same bill. Big day today.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) December 19, 2017
President Trump nominated and the Senate confirmed an all-time record 12 federal appeals court judges during a president’s first year in office. The previous record of 11 appellate appointments was jointly held by Presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The Senate also confirmed six judges to other federal courts. The Republican-controlled Senate was able to break this decades-long record in the face of unprecedented obstruction from Democrats, who have attempted to filibuster almost two-dozen judicial nominees in 2017 and used up nearly 30 hours of floor debate time per nominee in an effort to limit the number of judges confirmed under Donald Trump.
Congress also passed a number of resolutions using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal many of Obama’s onerous agency regulations. CRA resolutions allow Congress to repeal rules issued by a federal agency 60 days after they are reported to Congress. Congress created the CRA to undo last-minute agency regulations made by “lame duck” presidents. Lawmakers rarely used the CRA until President Trump took the oath of office and vowed to undo burdensome regulations issued in the twilight years of the Obama administration. Once a regulation is repealed through the CRA, the rule cannot be issued again without new action in Congress.
Congress passed a CRA resolution that repealed the Department of the Interior’s “Stream Protection Rule” that hurt the coal industry. Republicans also repealed an Obama-era Social Security Administration rule that Democrats claimed was aimed at blocking gun purchases by the mentally ill, but which also affected certain Social Security recipients with limited due process. Finally, Congress overturned a Department of Labor regulation through a CRA resolution that had restricted the use of drug testing to determine workers’ eligibility to receive unemployment compensation.
President Trump signed a CRA resolution that overturned a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband privacy rule that many critics, including FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, argue that the Federal Trade Commission would be better suited to protect consumer privacy than the FCC. Katie McAuliffe, executive director for Digital Liberty, said this broadband rule “was a power grab under the guise of privacy.”
Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak argued that the use of the Congressional Review Act during Trump’s early term was a “legislative milestone.”
Politico admitted that Trump’s war on regulations was his “biggest untold success.”
FAILED TO PASS
Republicans failed to pass legislation that would repeal and replace Obamacare. Republicans failed to pass the “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill after Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) tanked the bill. McCain also tanked the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare block-grant repeal plan in the fall.
Congress has yet to pass any legislation that would fund a southern border wall and reform America’s broken immigration system. Congress has yet to move to enact many of President Donald Trump’s immigration reforms which includes:
- Construction of a border wall
- Deporting unaccompanied alien children who are not at-risk in their native country
- Preventing criminal illegal aliens and gang members from receiving immigration benefits
- Mandating E-Verify, which weeds out illegal aliens from taking U.S. jobs
- Eliminating the diversity visa lottery
- Classifying overstaying a visa as a misdemeanor
- Restricting certain federal grants to sanctuary cities that refuse to detain criminal illegal aliens
- Ending extended family-based chain migration
- Enacting a merit-based legal immigration where only qualified immigrants can enter the U.S.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) co-sponsored the RAISE Act, and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) sponsored the House equivalent, the Immigration in the National Interest Act, both of which would cut legal immigration in half, end family-chain migration, cap refugees at 50,000, and mandate E-Verify to prevent companies from hiring illegal immigrants.
STUCK IN THE SENATE
Conservatives in the House have chastised the Senate for failing to pass over 300 House-passed bills, including several addressing:
- Illegal immigration, such as Kate’s Law, which would increase criminals penalties for previously deported illegal aliens, and the No Sanctuary for Criminals, which would strip federal funds from local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
- Banking regulation, such as the Financial CHOICE Act, which would repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
- Health insurance competition, such as the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, which would repeal the McCarran-Ferguson anti-trust exemption for health insurance and foster greater competition and lower prices in the health insurance market.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) argued on Thursday after passing tax reform that Republicans should move on from trying to repeal Obamacare. McConnell admitted that “We’ll probably move on to other issues” after failing to repeal Obamacare on multiple occasions.
“Well, we obviously were unable to completely repeal and replace with a 52-48 Senate,” McConnell told NPR. “We’ll have to take a look at what that looks like with a 51-49 Senate. But I think we’ll probably move on to other issues.”
“The House has passed over 308 bills that now sit languishing in the Senate,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told Breitbart News,“We’ve passed legislation to protect Americans from violent illegal immigrant felons, to repeal Dodd-Frank, and to end late-term abortions. The American people expect the Senate to act.”
Many conservatives, including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), argue that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) needs to drop the legislative filibuster so that Republicans can pass necessary legislation such as the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act.
“We had a tragedy in San Francisco with the murder of Kate Steinle. She was murdered by an illegal immigrant who was deported five times,” King said. “But he kept coming back to San Francisco because he knew it was a sanctuary city. Kate Steinle now rests in her grave, and America feels her pain.”
“If we got rid of the Senate filibuster, we would see more action on this bill,” King declared.
Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA) spoke about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Hice said, “Every day the Senate is doing nothing, lives are lost. I am also proud that the House in our appropriations package, defunded Planned Parenthood,” Hice said.
Due to the Senate’s failure to take up legislation that would adopt the House-passed appropriations package, Planned Parenthood still receives federal funding.
Hice charged, “The 60 vote threshold has become an enormous barrier to us getting our work done. The heart of that is to defend life. I call on the Senate to deal with the filibuster and deal with the 60 vote rule.”
President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the McConnell to drop the legislative filibuster to allow Republicans to more easily pass his agenda.
Trump tweeted in August, “If Republican Senate doesn’t get rid of the Filibuster Rule & go to a simple majority, which the Dems would do, they are just wasting time!”
A TRUMP PRIORITY NEVER TAKEN UP IN CONGRESS
The Republican-controlled Congress never took up President Trump’s legislative priority to invest in America’s infrastructure. Trump tweeted on Friday, “At some point, and for the good of the country, I predict we will start working with the Democrats in a Bipartisan fashion. Infrastructure would be a perfect place to start. After having foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is time to start rebuilding our country!
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