Back to business, new Congress sets legislative agenda

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- It’s a new year and a new Congress. Lawmakers returned to Washington Tuesday with a long to-do list, and some clear plans for the future.

“There’s a little bit of pomp and circumstance with the swearing-in and I think that’s good. It makes all of us understand the important responsibility that we have been given by the people that voted for us,” said Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Republicans say they plan to work on tax reform, border security, and infrastructure projects during the first few months of 2017.

“It’s been frustrating to work with the Obama administration to be frank. We don’t get a lot of feedback. We don’t get a lot of response. So to have someone in the White House who is going to take our phone calls, to share in a set of ideas that are going to grow the economy and make America a place for upward mobility and better paychecks for the American people is going to be key,” said Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.

Even with Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House, some Democratic members of Congress aren’t backing down.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said he will work with the other side when it’s the right thing to do, “when it works for Iowans but when it doesn’t I am going to stand for those especially those who have virtually no power at this point.”

One of Loebsack’s main priorities will be voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“I think it is going to be the wrong thing to do to get rid of 20-million folks health insurance,” said Loebsack.

But there’s momentum in the air. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is prepared to partner with President-elect Donald Trump.

“I think when you have a president that’s coming in here to upset the apple cart it’s very good news for a Senator like me that’s been trying to do that for a long period of time,” said Grassley.

Grassley said he plans to move quickly to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and to get a new Supreme Court justice nominated and confirmed.

For new members of Congress, it’s all about finding a place to make their mark.

“You got to get the campaign rhetoric behind you and then you got to see what is best for the American people,” said Democratic Rep. Al Lawson of Florida.

Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., a political outsider until his election, says he is ready to help ‘Make America Great Again.’

“I feel like the race is just about to begin. You have walked up to the starting line now and getting loosened up,” said Dunn.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence plans to travel to Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans Wednesday to talk about plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, teeing up one of the first battles of the new Congress.

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