Congress battles on the horizon in 2017

(CNN) – For the first time in nearly a dozen years, republicans will control all of Washington and they are plotting an ambitious agenda on Capitol Hill.

A sweeping rewrite of the tax code, new infrastructure projects, a ninth Supreme Court justice, and their top goal: a repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature legacy item: Obamacare.

Sen. Mitch McConnell said, “The Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the new year.”

However republican leaders privately acknowledge it won’t be easy, especially repealing the health care law without a clear plan to replace it and in the aftermath of surging enrollment numbers for Obamacare, “What happens to those 20 million people who have health insurance? Are you gonna just kick ’em off and suddenly they don’t have health insurance?”

Next month, republicans will immediately try to pass a budget, a process that’ll allow them to repeal much of Obamacare, including subsidies to buy health insurance and an expansion of Medicaid, all on a party-line vote in the senate, but some key aspects of the law cannot be repealed through the budget process.

Including prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and the mandate requiring people to purchase health coverage.

Conservatives determined to scrap the law are already warning of a revolt if president-elect Donald Trump accepts anything short of a full repeal.

The process to replace Obamacare will be even tougher because republicans will need to overcome a senate filibuster.

Meaning they’ll need the support of at least 8 democrats to enact a new healthcare law, but the new senate democratic leader Chuck Schumer is already warning that his party won’t help the GOP replace the law, “Just repealing Obamacare even though they have nothing to put in its place and saying they’ll do it sometime down the road will cause huge calamity from one end of America to the other. They don’t know what to do. They’re like to dog that caught the bus.”

To ensure people don’t lose their coverage, GOP leaders say congress will effectively delay the repeal from taking effect until legislation is approved to replace the law, a process that could take years, “There needs to be a reasonable transition period so people that don’t have the rug pulled out from under them.”

That approach is only bound to cause tension with top conservatives who want immediate action.

Copyright CNN 2016

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