Trump’s Legislative Agenda Stuck in Limbo

Donald Trump and Mike Pence meeting with Senate leadership in January 2017. (Public domain photo the Office of the President of the United States.)

President Trump consistently promised voters and members of Congress a 100-day plan to “Make America Great Again.”

This action plan included three major promises to American citizens: repeal and replace Obamacare, build a border wall between the United States and Mexico and cut taxes through tax reform.

With double the time that Trump promised to set the plan in motion, the past 200-plus days have been marked by major obstacles for Trump’s legislative agenda.1

Health Care

A top priority that was expressed by both Trump and the Congressional GOP was to repeal and replace President Obama’s key legacy: the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Efforts to derail the ACA began in March within the House of Representatives and has since, challenged any progress on Trump’s legislative agenda as lawmakers devoted a majority of session time before August to repeal and replace.

After several failures to repeal health care, top GOP leaders have signaled that it is time for lawmakers to focus on other aspects of Trump’s legislative agenda when Congress returns to the Capitol after recess.

Building a Border Wall

On January 25, Trump issued Executive Order 13767 to build a border wall between Mexico and the United States, and have Mexico pay for it.

Despite the issuance of the executive order, this task on Trump’s legislative agenda still needs House and Senate approval, to be signed into law, and built. In late July, the House Appropriations Committee released a bill that allocates $1.6 billion to begin construction on the border wall in 2018.

This specific appropriation breaks Trump’s key promise to voters that Mexico will pay for the wall.

Infrastructure Spending

The Trump administration proposed a $200 billion infrastructure spending plan over the next ten years. The goal for the administration is long term reform that will benefit bridges, tunnels, roads, railroads, etc.

Despite the White House’s brief outline of Trump’s plan, nothing has been introduced in Congress and specific details have not been decided, nor proposed.

Tax Reform

During his campaign, Trump promised major tax cuts for the middle class, and legislators are expected to turn Trump’s proposal into legislation upon returning to the Capitol.

Currently, Trump’s revised proposal will turn the seven tax brackets into three brackets of 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent.

Passing tax reform is predicted to be another challenge that the GOP will face, especially after the Democratic Party’s consistent disapproval of GOP actions to repeal and replace.

Currently, Trump’s top priorities for his legislative agenda have not yet succeeded into becoming a reality. Repeal and replace has failed. Appropriation for the border wall followed a different direction than Trump had anticipated. Trump’s plan on infrastructure spending is in the works and has not reached Congress yet. Congress was not able to thoroughly discuss tax reform before recess.

These delays may owe it to political gridlock.

With the Democratic Party’s disapproval of Trump and his public policy proposals, the Democrats have been strengthening efforts to block his ideas from passing Congress, and this is expected to continue, further stalling success with Trump’s legislative agenda.

Congress will begin its next session on September 5, and after the failure with healthcare, Congress will be under scrutiny by the White House and the people as it begins the tax reform leg of Trump’s legislative agenda.

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