Resistance Mobilizes as GOP Licks Chops Over Regressive Agenda
‘The stakes are incredibly high and our community is counting on us as the last line of defense between Donald Trump and the worst of what America could offer,’ says Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
From slowing President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet confirmations to hampering GOP attempts to repeal Obamacare or defund Planned Parenthood, Democrats and allied progressive forces stand ready to resist the looming Republican agenda.
Ahead of Congress reconvening on Tuesday, news publications outlined what’s in store—and at stake.
“Democrats have dramatically greater justification for opposing the Trump-Ryan agenda in 2017 than Ryan and his fellow Republicans had for opposing the Obama agenda in 2009.”
—John Nichols, The Nation
“The most powerful and ambitious Republican-led Congress in 20 years will convene Tuesday, with plans to leave its mark on virtually every facet of American life,” the New York Times reported, “refashioning the country’s social safety net, wiping out scores of labor and environmental regulations, and unraveling some of the most significant policy prescriptions put forward by the Obama administration.”
Of a plan that was “long in the making,” the Washington Post reported:
Almost the entire agenda has already been vetted, promoted, and worked over by Republicans and think tanks that look at the White House less for leadership and more for signing ceremonies.
In 2012, Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist described the ideal president as “a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen” and “sign the legislation that has already been prepared.” In 2015, when Senate Republicans used procedural maneuvers to undermine a potential Democratic filibuster and vote to repeal the health-care law, it did not matter that President Obama’s White House stopped them: As the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action put it, the process was “a trial run for 2017, when we will hopefully have a President willing to sign a full repeal bill.”
“What I told our committees a year ago was: Assume you get the White House and Congress,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told CNBC in a post-election interview last month. “Come 2018, what do you want to have accomplished?” Negotiations with the incoming Trump administration, he said, were mostly “on timeline, on an execution strategy.”
And Politico predicted Monday that Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, cut U.S. funding to the United Nations, confirm a slate of controversial Cabinet picks, and undo at least some Obama-era regulations are likely to hit few snags.
Indeed, Republicans have several strategies at their disposal, as the Post reported, from “a procedure known as ‘budget reconciliation,’ in which measures can be passed with a simple 51-vote majority rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes” to “the 21-year old Congressional Review Act [CRA], which allows Congress to cast simple majority votes of disapproval for regulations.”
Furthermore, the Post continued:
Republicans intend to supplement the CRA by enacting a law that would subject any regulation with an economic impact greater than $100 million to a vote of Congress, a change that would have prevented nearly every climate or employment rule change of the Obama years. The measure, called the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, or Reins, is a conservative priority that passed the Republican House in 2011, 2013, and 2015 with backing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Republican aides now hope for a vote on Reins in the coming days so it can be sent for Trump’s signature immediately after he is sworn in on Jan. 20.
But these salvos will be met with fierce resistance. Civil society groups representing millions of Americans have vowed to oppose Trump and the Republicans’ agenda at every turn, as have lawmakers and progressive leaders nationwide.
And Politico separately reported Monday that members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are “bracing for the worst in Donald Trump, fearing a presidency that could set minorities back decades.” Members of the caucus listed everything from Trump’s regressive Cabinet nominees to proposed policies targeting ethnic and minority groups as potential threats.
According to Politico:
Incoming CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) is expected to outline his priorities for the new administration when he officially takes the reins of the caucus on Tuesday. Some members suggested challenging Trump on his home turf—Twitter—while others advocated nonviolent protests reminiscent of the civil rights movement.
“The stakes are incredibly high and our community is counting on us as the last line of defense between Donald Trump and the worst of what America could offer,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told the publication.
Trump’s lack of a political mandate means “Democrats have dramatically greater justification for opposing the Trump-Ryan agenda in 2017 than Ryan and his fellow Republicans had for opposing the Obama agenda in 2009,” The Nation‘s John Nichols wrote in a weekend op-ed.
Indeed, he added, “Democrats should position themselves as the legitimate (and necessary) opposition to an administration and an agenda that has no mandate.”
Of course, intra-party disagreements could also sabotage GOP plans. Republicans, the New York Times reported, “are divided on how to proceed with the healthcare law and a pledge to rewrite the tax code. Some are also skittish about certain policy proposals, like vast changes to Medicare, that could prove unpopular among the broad electorate. And any burst of legislative action will come only if Congress can break free of its longstanding tendency toward gridlock.”