U.S. citizens were clearly looking for a change in direction when they elected Republicans to the majority of both the House and Senate for the first time in a decade. Still, voters may be surprised – and a little horrified – to see that change actually means regression. The Republicans have wasted no time in jumping on the following four issues:
1. Hindering Abortion
On the first day of the new session, a pair of Republican Representatives brought back the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” a bill that would end abortion after 20 weeks since — and this “fact” is far from proven — fetuses feel pain at that point. Obviously, the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue of abortion, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from trying to chip away at a woman’s right to choose.
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With President Obama already saying he’ll veto this particular piece of legislation, the bill is a way for Republicans to score points with their base without actually changing the status quo.
2. Advancing the Keystone Pipeline
Another bill Obama says he will veto is one concerning the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans have long wanted to start construction on the controversial oil passageway, and it hasn’t taken long for them to take up the issue now that they have power. In fact, the Senate Energy Committee quickly moved the bill forward with unanimous support from participating Republican Senators. Environmentalists are understandably fretting what happens moving forward on this project that blatantly ignores the ramifications of climate change.
3. Undoing Access to Health Care
Given how many times Republicans voted to repeal Obamacare even without a majority, it’s probably not a surprise that they’re already back on that kick. The first step Republicans have taken is advancing legislation to increase the number of hours of work required for companies to cover an employee’s health insurance. If actualized, this law would suddenly leave millions of Americans without health coverage. Though the bill is close to rolling through both parts of Congress, once again, Obama has indicated he would veto this legislation.
4. Stripping Existing Wall Street Regulations
Taking a bunch of previously DOA financial bills that went nowhere when Democrats were in power, the Republicans created one big super-bill that their friends in the banking industry were no doubt proud to see moved forward. The bill would make it easier for corporations to commit fraud (and get away with it), allow executives to not have to disclose certain pertinent pieces of information to the public or investigators, and get rid of several established and important regulations that supposedly put a “burden” on business.
The Republicans tried to push the legislation through swiftly while the normal House rules were suspended, but fortunately lacked the 2/3 majority necessary to pass the legislation during this time thanks to opposition from most House Democrats. Still, that won’t likely stop Republicans from taking similar steps under circumstances where only a simple majority is necessary.
The first couple of days have given us a pretty clear look at the direction Republicans are taking. It seems like we’re in for quite a bumpy ride over the next couple of years. Obama better have that veto pen handy!