Lawmakers return this week to Capitol Hill amid a starkly different political reality from when they left town more than a month ago.
Donald Trump’s surprise presidential win means Republicans will soon control all levers of power at the national level, and GOP lawmakers are itching to press forward in areas where President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats previously blocked them.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said she wants to jump on the priorities she hears from Nebraskans as she travels the state: repealing the Affordable Care Act, overhauling the tax code and eliminating regulations.
“It will be nice to get bills to the president’s desk and have him sign them,” Fischer said.
Her aides already are poring over environmental regulations they have targeted such as Waters of the United States and the Clean Power Plan.
Those initiatives are aimed at protecting the country’s air and water, but people in farm country worry that the water regulations will mean that drainage ditches get treated like rivers and industry warns about the business costs that would come from complying with strict air pollution standards.
Fischer said she’ll also be looking for the new administration’s plans on national security.
Trump recently outlined his own agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency, and his plan includes the items Fischer cited.
In addition, Trump has proposals to expand restrictions on lobbying by former lawmakers and government officials — restrictions Fischer said she supports.
“I don’t like a revolving door,” Fischer said.
Trump also has called for a major infrastructure package. Fischer, who has made infrastructure one of her signature issues, said that she’ll take a look at the new president’s proposals but that she’s not ready to sign off on a bunch of spending just for the sake of it.
Instead, she said she hopes Trump will consider her own proposal that would create a national infrastructure bank funded by $30 billion of capital captured through a tax repatriation holiday. That’s where companies holding money overseas to avoid taxes are allowed to move it to the United States at a lower tax rate than normal.
Republicans kept their Senate majority, but not by much. They’ll most likely have a 52-48 edge, far short of the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster.
Some of the GOP proposals can be accomplished through the rather arcane procedural process known as budget reconciliation, which is not subject to the filibuster. Fischer said she expects that Republicans will use that method for repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Senate Republicans also will be under significant pressure from their core supporters to change the filibuster rules if Democrats block their initiatives in areas such as immigration.
Fischer said legislation is better when both parties have a hand in crafting it. The filibuster, she said, serves as a valuable tool in forcing Republicans and Democrats to work together.
Still, she wasn’t prepared to rule out an end to the filibuster rules.
“We’ll see,” she said.