WASHINGTON — On Tuesday at noon, with plenty of pomp and pageantry, members of the 115th Congress will be sworn in, with an emboldened GOP intent on unraveling eight years of President Barack Obama’s Democratic agenda and targeting massive legacy programs from Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson such as Social Security and Medicare.
In the election, Republicans kept their tight grip on the House and outmaneuvered the Democrats for a slim majority in the Senate. In less than three weeks, on the West Front of the Capitol, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the presidential oath to Donald Trump, the GOP’s newfound ally.
First up for Republicans is repeal and delay of the health care law, expediting the process for scrapping Obama’s major overhaul but holding off on some changes for up to four years. The tax code is in the cross-hairs. Conservatives want to scuttle rules on the environment and undo financial regulations created in the aftermath of the 2008 economic meltdown, arguing they are too onerous for businesses to thrive.
The only obstacle to the far-reaching conservative agenda will be Senate Democrats who hold the power to filibuster legislation, but even that has its political limitations. Twenty-three Democrats are up for re-election in 2018, including 10 from states Trump won, and they could break ranks and side with the GOP.