Here’s Literally Everything Congress Has (And Hasn’t) Done Under Trump

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The 115th Session of Congress is taking a short recess on June 30. In light of Congress' first half of the 2017 year coming to a close, it's important to reflect on the decisions that have been made since Donald Trump took office. Needless to say, America has certainly changed since Inauguration Day. But reviewing a congressional "report card" of sorts will ensure that you don't skip a beat. Equipped with a synopsis of their actions, you'll be able to hold Congress accountable for both their successes and failures.

The 115th Congress is comprised of a Republican majority in both houses. The Senate currently has 52 Republican senators, two Independents, and 46 Democrats, with Republican Mitch McConnell serving as Senate majority leader. The House of Representatives has 239 Republican members of Congress and 193 Democrats, with Republican Paul Ryan serving as Speaker of the House.

Republican legislators seemed to have rather ambitious plans for the beginning of this congressional session. Because they hold a majority in both houses of Congress, the 115th congressional session is as an opportunistic time during which they can pass legislation that aligns with their party platform. According to a CNN article written in January, at the beginning the year, Republicans intended to focus their energies primarily around several issue areas: repealing Obamacare, reforming taxes, confirming Trump's nominees for various offices, addressing Russian hacking issues, and (possibly) reforming congressional rules.

But as anyone versed in politics knows, things rarely unfold as planned. Here's what Congress did and did not accomplish during this session:

Health Care

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Confirmations

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Russia

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Tax Reform

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  • Congress has done little thus far in the way of tax reform. According to Politico, Speaker of the House Ryan has hinted that he thinks legislation will come out in September after the GOP and the White House find common ground. The Trump administration has also indicated that it expects Congress to act on tax reform by the end of 2017. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn told Fox News earlier in June that the administration plans to submit its detailed tax plan to Congress after it returns from its July recess.

Women's Issues

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  • In January, The House of Representatives passed HR7, a bill which would essentially make the Hyde Amendment a permanent law. The decades-old Hyde amendment is a budget "rider" that bans federal funding for abortions in the United States, except for several notable exceptions. The amendment has banned federal funding for abortions via Medicaid for years. If HR7 becomes law though, this restriction would become permanent. Additionally, it would also become exceedingly difficult for women to have abortions covered by private insurance, due to the bill's proposed ban on women receiving ACA subsidies (funds that would help cover the cost of their insurance and diminish out-of-pocket expenses) if they select an insurance plan the covers abortion. The bill has been received in the Senate and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
  • As noted above, both the Senate and House versions of the Obamacare repeal and replacement bills defund Planned Parenthood — an organization which provides millions of women with essential reproductive health services — for one year.
  • In February, Congress passed two career-oriented acts: the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act and the INSPIRE Women Act. Both seek to promote the participation and recruitment of women in math, science, and engineering.

Russia Investigation

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Promises Kept

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  • Senate Republicans held steadfast in their commitment to ensuring that Gorsuch was confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice of the United States. However, they certainly took unprecedented measures to ensure that this happened by invoking the "nuclear option."
  • New health care legislation has not passed both houses of Congress and thus Obamacare has not been repealed and replaced, as desired by many Republicans. However, throughout the beginning of this congressional session, Republicans have judiciously worked to try to achieve this aim (and are continuing to do so). The proposed health care bills also defund Planned Parenthood, a long-standing goal of many Republicans.

Promises Broken

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  • The contents of the Republican health care bill also suggest Republicans are moving away from their promise about "fixing" Obamacare — a promise that once included lowering premiums and deductibles and maintaining continued protections. Indeed, their bills seem to encourage the opposite of these promises.
  • Republicans have not yet delivered on promised tax reforms — something that has notably annoyed several Republican donors. However, as noted above, Republicans have committed to passing tax reform legislation by the end of the year.
  • Republicans have dropped the ball on Russia sanctions for election interference by not yet getting the bill through the House of Representatives. Despite seemingly bipartisan public commitment to "punishing" Russia for this interference, the lack of passed legislation reflects a promise unkept.

What's Next

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  • A vote on the Senate version of the health care bill is imminent following the July 4 recess. However, if McConnell and Senate Republicans do seek to make changes to the bill and acquire a new CBO score, it could take some time before a vote is held on the legislation.
  • In addition to finalizing plans for health care legislation, crafting tax reform legislation will likely be a major legislative priority that Republican members of Congress focus on for much of the remainder of 2017.
  • Many anticipate that a Senate vote on raising the debt ceiling will take place in July, before Congress' longer August recess. However, Speaker of the House Ryan has indicated that the House will only commit to voting on the issue before the United States hits the debt ceiling. If that were to occur, it would likely happen sometime in September and trigger a first-ever default on U.S. financial obligations, like social security. Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, wants Congress to vote to raise the debt ceiling as soon as possible. However, Congress seems hesitant to rush the vote, as it may cause discord between fiscal conservatives and moderates within the Republican party.
  • Earlier in June, the House voted along party lines to pass the Financial Choice Act, which, if it becomes law, would gut many of the financial regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act. The Dodd-Frank Act is a substantial financial regulatory reform bill that was passed following the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Consideration of the new bill is now in the hands of the Senate, which, according to CNN, is likely to craft its own version of the bill. According to the New York Times, repealing key Dodd-Frank provisions also constitutes an important, though lesser-publicized, priority on the Republicans' legislative agenda; however, they likely face an uphill battle to pass legislation in the Senate.

It will certainly be interesting, to say the least, to see how the remainder of Congress' year unfolds after members return from their July recess.