4 Things to Watch as Republicans Take Control of 115th Congress

Congress is back in session today with an ambitious agenda.

— -- Republicans return to Washington this week with ambitious, conservative plans for the country’s health care system and tax code, and aim to roll back many of President Obama’s executive actions and his environmental legacy.

As Republicans map out their most conservative agenda in decades, here are four areas to watch in Washington this year:

They’re planning to pair a quick vote to repeal major elements of Obamacare with a plan to phase out the provisions over several years, giving Republicans time to craft their replacement plan.

While Trump and some Republican leaders agree on keeping several basic elements of Obamacare – such as pre-existing coverage and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health care until they turn 26 – the party has not coalesced around a single GOP blueprint to replace the law.

For their part, Democrats are vowing to fight any major changes, and will discuss defending the law with Obama on Capitol Hill Wednesday.


Congress will also take aim at executive actions and regulations of the Obama years, beginning today, the first day of the 115th Congress.

The House and Senate are expected to quickly take up a bill from Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., that would give Congress oversight over major executive actions. The REINS Act, which has been previously introduced and passed by the House, has never had the support of the commander in chief.

Under the proposal, Congress would have to sign off on any new major regulations.

Speaking Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week," incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump plans to “repeal a lot of the regulations and actions that have been taken by this administration” after he takes the oath of office.

Russia and the Election

While many lawmakers support beefing up sanctions against Russia, Trump has dismissed the potential action, setting up a potential clash with his own party on Capitol Hill. “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a recent statement.

The president-elect says he plans to meet with intelligence officials to discuss the issue later this week.

Confirmations and Supreme Court

Trump’s Cabinet nominees will face resistance from Senate Democrats in their confirmation hearings later this month. Democrats plan to target eight of Trump’s picks and slow down their confirmation unless the nominees provide Congress with more background information, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Trump will also have to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, along with a slew of openings on the federal bench. He released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees during the campaign, which was well received by conservatives.