Republican leaders in Congress vowed on Tuesday to swiftly push ahead next year with the agenda of President-Elect Donald Trump, while Democrats wondered aloud what went wrong on Election Day, as some in their party denounced Trump and one of his early staff choices.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help him be as successful as he’s going to be,” said Speaker Paul Ryan said of Trump, as Ryan – with Trump’s backing – was unanimously approved by fellow Republicans for another term as Speaker of the House.
“I think he’s going to be a very successful President,” Ryan said of the President-Elect.
Rank-and-file Republicans were elated about what’s next in January, as the GOP will be in charge of the House, the Senate and the White House for the time since 2006.
“Yeah, I’m ready,” said a smiling Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), who was like many other Republicans I spoke to on Tuesday – totally fired up for next year.
“We’re ready to roll as far as the agenda goes,” Scott told me after the GOP leadership elections. “I expect us to move pretty quick with legislation.”
One of those who will be tasked with heavy lifting is Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which will have jurisdiction over tax changes and the repeal of the Obama health law.
We’re going to be ready with both repeal and replace,” Brady said to reporters about Obamacare, who besieged him for hints on how his panel would move forward on that and more.
“I think those discussions on timing will occur with Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence and our team,” Brady said.
“But we’ll be ready,” Brady added.
While Republicans were making plans for what legislative issues should be addressed next year and when, Democrats were still trying to figure out how they lost to Trump a week ago, as some lashed out at the next President.
“We have a responsibility to prevent Trump’s bullying, aggressive behavior from becoming normalized in the eyes of Americans,” said Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who bitterly attacked Trump from the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Reid told several post-election stories of minorities being on the receiving end of hateful remarks, which Reid said were spurred by Trump’s victory.
“We have a responsibility to be the voice of the millions of Americans who are afraid that they are unwelcome in Donald Trump’s America,” Reid said on the Senate floor, as he dared Republicans to defend “examples of hate and prejudice.”
Along with Reid’s criticism, a group of Democratic lawmakers continued to publicly object to Trump’s choice for a chief strategist, Stephen Bannon.
“This is not about a difference in policy or politics,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “Steve Bannon has promoted anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic and dangerous views.”
Most Republicans said little again today about Bannon, focusing more on the road ahead for Trump’s agenda.
Over in the House, some cracks appeared among Democrats over their election setback of a week ago, as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was forced to delay leadership elections until November 30.
Those leadership votes had been slated for Thursday, but a number of Democrats wanted more time to think about what went wrong, and whether leadership changes might be needed.
While few in the halls of the Capitol think Pelosi’s post is in jeopardy, the extra time does give others a chance to organize against her.
Congress is in session this week, and then will be off until after Thanksgiving.