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New Congress Takes Office, Ryan Re-elected Speaker

01-03-2017
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House Speaker Paul Ryan, Photo, AP

A new Congress takes office in the nation's capital Tuesday. They were sworn in by re-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in a Congressional ceremony. 

Republicans have been waiting for this moment for a long time.

"On November third, the American people spoke and signaled that they are ready for a new direction," said Cory Gardner, a Republican lawmaker from Colorado.

As the 115th Congress opens for business, Republicans, in full control of both chambers and the White House for the first time in almost a decade, say they are eager to get to work.

Top on the agenda: Scrapping Obama's signature piece of legislation.

"We'll work to repair the damage of Obamacare," Gardner vowed during a recent weekly GOP radio address. "A law that was sold on broken promises to the American people. A law that has led to soaring premiums, failing insurance markets and dwindling choices."
 
Next: House lawmakers are planning bills to roll back thousands of federal regulations imposed by the Obama White House on everything from the environment to drilling to businesses.
 
Then there's the confirmation of Donald Trump's cabinet nominees. Democrats are vowing not to make it easy.
 
The Washington Post is reporting that Democrats are planning to target at least eight of Trump's 15 cabinet picks.

But whether it's facing a challenging confirmation process or battles over Supreme Court picks, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich worries the incoming administration might "lose their nerve" in taking on the Democrats.

"Look, they're going to arrive in Washington, and for them to be successful they have to stake out positions that Donna (Democrat National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile) will not like and the Left will hate," Gingrich told ABC News. "I worry that when they realize how big the problem is, that they decide that they're just going to do the best they can and give in."

Congressional Republicans have already backed down from a controversial last-minute plan to revise congressional oversight, after coming under heavy fire from both sides Tuesday.

Democrats and President-elect Trump questioned the decision by House Republicans to rein in the independent Congressional Ethics Office, and put it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee.
 
Supporters say it would have strengthened the current setup, but top Republicans worried the move could look bad given Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington.

"With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
 
Meanwhile, Trump will face a slew of foreign policy challenges when he takes the oath of office on January 20.
 
From how to deal with Russia, especially in light of the controversy over hacking during the presidential election, to the battle to defeat ISIS, the ongoing chaos in Syria and now North Korea which just announced on New Year's day that it was close to test launching an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the US.

On Monday, Trump tweeted about North Korea's missile ambitions, saying "It won't happen" on his watch.

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