As members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate wrap up the first week of the 115th session in Washington D.C., Texas lawmakers aren’t wasting time to introduce new legislation and lay out their priorities.
“I think the priorities are dealing with the burdens from regulations that are affecting small businesses in Texas as well as around the country,” Representative Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said, “repealing Obamacare and putting commonsense health care in its place, and obviously a big priority is tax reform.”
Several hours after Congress was sworn, Republicans started their fight to repeal Obamacare.
“All the promises [republicans] made about how they can do it better, cheaper, everybody’s going to be satisfied are going to be really hard to meet,” President Barack Obama said on Friday. “This is why the strategy of repeal first and replace later is just a huge disservice to the American people.”
President Obama stopped by the Capitol Wednesday, urging democrats to save his legislation. Obama said he would publicly support new legislation and the repeal of Obamacare, but he said he wants to see it first.
“After the law passed for the last 6, 7 years there has been the argument that we can provide a great replacement that will be much better for everybody than what what the Affordable Care Act is providing and yet over the last six, seven years there’s been no actual replacement law that any credible health experts have said would work better,” Obama said.
Thornberry said replacing Obamacare with a more “common sense plan” is what Texans really need.
“It’s important to Texas,” Thornberry said. “Especially rural health care for our part of the state. Small rural hospitals are really struggling right now, and so as we repeal Obamacare and deal with a lot of the vestiges that it has left, trying to make sure that small rural hospitals and rural healthcare providers can stay in business and serve their patients, is going to be a huge issue.”
Another hot item during the 115th Congress is tax reform. Thornberry introduced a bill on Tuesday that would repeal the death tax, similar to a bill Representative Kevin Brady, R-Texas, introduced last year.
“While the rate of the death tax and the exemption has gone up and down over the years, it still hangs over everybody and threatens what they have spent a lifetime trying to build up,” Thornberry said. “So my bill abolishes it forever completely. We are going to do major tax reform this year, and I think that we have a really good chance of putting the final ‘nail in the coffin,’ if you will, of the death tax.”
Texas Republicans say they are hopeful that this year the bill will pass because they say their version of tax reform is consistent with what the Trump administration wants to do.
Texas Democrats say their game plan when it comes to some of these dividing issues is to find common ground when they agree and hold their ground when they do not.