Assessing The Republican Congress’s First Hundred Days
When Republicans took control over the Senate after last year’s midterms, new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his main goal for the party was to be responsible, not scary . Yesterday marked the first 100 days of the GOP-controlled 114th Congress, and the results have proven that McConnell and his caucus have not lived up to their promise. Since January, House and Senate Republicans have supported policies that threaten the future of our economic recovery, would limit access to health care, protect big polluters by obstructing action on climate change, and put our national security at risk.
Here are just a few of the many examples of the GOP’s’ failed leadership so far this Congress:
The GOP-led Congress prioritized the interests of the few, with budgets that would hurt working families.
- Congressional Republican leaders’ rhetoric is now filled with references to inequality, the struggling middle class, and stagnant wages. But in reality, their budget would slash education funding for 1.9 million disadvantaged students, strip 16.4 million Americans of health care coverage, eliminate job training for 2 million workers, cut 2,250 medical and scientific research grants, drop 35,000 preschoolers from Head Start and more.
- On top of that, House GOP leaders plan to give even more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, including an expected vote to repeal the estate tax this week.
Congress continued to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that over 16 million Americans are now covered thanks to the law.
- One of the first votes in the House of Representatives of the 114th Congress was to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This is just one in the now nearly 60 votes in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act over the past five years, with more expected when this Congress votes on a budget in the coming weeks. And despite their many promises, Republicans still haven’t offered a significant replacement bill.
- Through King v. Burwell, a suit brought by conservatives, the Supreme Court could also strike a major blow to the ACA later this year. Yet Republicans have refused to offer a legislative fix to protect the millions of Americans that would lose insurance and prevent the health care system from devolving into chaos.
GOP leadership is trying to obstruct efforts to address climate change, with no energy policy of their own.
- There is no other issue on which the 114th Congress has actively tried to stunt progress or do harm as much as climate and energy. According to a new report by the Center for American Progress, this Congress has held more roll-call votes on energy and environmental issues than any other topic, with 8 in the House and 22 in the Senate related to the Keystone XL pipeline alone.
- In fact, the U.S. Senate has cast more votes to remove protections of wilderness areas, block new parks, and sell-off public lands than it has to address defense, immigration, and veterans’ issues combined.
The Republicans’ mass deportation agenda was front and center, even putting national security at risk.
- Republicans have held 12 anti-immigrant votes this year, including attempts to end the Department of Homeland Security immigration directives, which would allow 5 million parents and DREAMers to get work permits and a temporary reprieve from deportation. They have also tried to destroy the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has helped close to 640,000 young people get temporary legal protections, go back to school, get new jobs, and do better all around.
- Republicans in the House and the Senate have held 20 separate hearings attacking immigrants, with titles such as “Reining in Amnesty” and “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers.”
- None of these legislative attempts to repeal the DHS directives or end DACA have a chance at moving forward, but in ending programs that Latinos care deeply about they are cementing their party’s brand as anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, and anti-family.
There are many other issues they have failed to lead on as well. Rather than pass proactive legislation to improve women’s health, for example, this Congress has introduced over 20 bills to restrict access to abortion and inserted harmful and irrelevant abortion restrictions in important bills, impeding their progress. And Senate Republicans have continued to hold hostage the nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general, despite her bipartisan support and overwhelming qualifications.
BOTTOM LINE: With Congress under new management, the body has completely become a place where the interests of working families are put on the chopping block, where attacks on education, health care, a clean and safer planet are commonplace while immigrant families are repeatedly threatened. In these first 100 days of the GOP-controlled Congress, only the wealthiest and the biggest polluters have come out ahead.