GOP eyes big-ticket reforms upon return from Congressional recess

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - There are just four months left for the Republican Party to accomplish big-ticket legislation in 2017. Legislation like health care reform, tax reform and a massive infrastructure overhaul. As lawmakers return to Washington following a monthlong recess, they have yet to meet any of these goals.

Tommy Binion says the GOP situation could be untenable if they fail to act in the fall.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) laid out a hopeful agenda at the GOP retreat in late January, pledging to accomplish big reforms on the Republican 2016 campaign platform.

“As time goes on, you run the risk of completely failing to keep your promise,” said Tommy Binion from the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Binion says September is make or break. He says funding the government and addressing the debt ceiling are what’s called “must pass” pieces of legislation, but accomplishing “big-ticket” reforms are important to appease the Republican base.

“Putting no points on the board is an untenable situation. I don’t know whether it will be tax reform, or whether it will be some version of “Obamacare” repeal and replace or whether they’ll pivot to infrastructure. But they’ll get something done because it’s a political imperative,” said Binion.

A political imperative, Binion says, as all House members and some Senators stare down the barrel of 2018 elections. They have four months, with multiple recesses mixed in, to accomplish significant legislation.

“Do they ever turn on the president himself and say, ‘the president has lead us down this path,’” said David Hawkings from CQ Roll Call.

He says President Trump’s approach raises questions, like why start with health care reform rather than something with more bipartisan support? Hawkings says he doesn’t think he’ll accomplish any of his priorities this year.

“There’s been no other president, certainly in modern times, who has gotten none of his top priorities done during his first year in office,” said Hawkings.

According to official calendars, the Senate is slated to work 61 more days in 2017, the House 48 days.