The 115th Congress was sworn in Monday and has wasted little time signaling a significant change is in the air as the Obama presidency draws to a close.
President Obama visited the Hill today to urge Democrats against “Trumpcare.”
Players and movements aplenty
Paul Ryan was re-elected as House Speaker on Tuesday with 241 votes, defeating challenger Nancy Pelosi and her 194 seats. Ryan will continue his leadership for another two-year term on the Hill. There are several new players coming on the scene in the Senate, as freshman John Kennedy (R-La.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) will join the Appropriations Committee. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) turned heads with her move to the Senate Armed Services Committee. In the House, Diane Black is the most likely candidate for the Chair of the House Budget Committee, replacing current Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) if she is successful. Still to be confirmed are House appropriations seats and subcommittee chairmanships, most notably HAC-D. Many consider Kay Granger (R-TX) to be favored to get the nod for defense appropriations over Hal Rogers (R-KY)…we will know very soon.
Senate budget reveal
Senate Republicans unveiled a first look at the outline for their budget proposal that will seek to repeal Obamacare, supported by Senate Majority Leader McConnell. Expect a vote on the adoption of the budget to come next week, with the Republican-dominated House to follow shortly after.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence returned to the Hill today to meet with Republicans to discuss future plans for Obamacare.
Office of Congressional Ethics challenged
The biggest news of the 115th Congress’ first day back on the Hill revolved around House Republicans’ attempt to revamp the Office of Congressional Ethics in order to create the Office of Congressional Complaint Review. Suggested by Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the change would put the new office under direct supervision of the bipartisan House Ethics Committee. Significant public backlash forced the GOP to drop the proposal and agree to revisit the matter at a later date. House Speaker Ryan objected to the proposal, and President-elect Trump expressed his disagreement as well. Now the House rules package will move forward without the OCE stipulation. This proved to be a needless early procedural and messaging stumble.
The New Administration comes into focus
Look for Republican defense hawks to encourage significant increases in defense spending, in accordance with President-elect Trump’s promises for a prominent military build-up while he is in office. Finally removing sequestration from the table of alternatives will be an early and visible effort. Additionally, and as previously reported in Quick Hits, expect a supplemental appropriation early in the calendar year.
Defense companies are quickly recognizing that a nimble communications staff will be required to keep up with President-elect Trump’s use of social media to quickly stake out a position on challenging issues.
It will be a busy year. Stay tuned for easy-to-read and easy-to-digest Quick Hits summaries.