Every two years, a new year brings about a new Congress. And on Tuesday, the 115th Congress will convene for the first time. Members’ tenure spans the last two weeks of the Obama administration, as well as the first-half of President-elect Donald Trump’s term, which will begin on January 20.
For the first time in more than a decade, Republicans will lead the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and there will be a Republican president in the White House. This means that conservative legislative priorities, such as reversing the harm caused by Obamacare and getting the nation’s fiscal house in order, are finally on the table.
Opportunity Lives would like to introduce just five of the 241 Republican members of Congress who — along with the U.S. Senate — will shape policy for at least the next two years.
Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas)
Brady represents Texas’s 8th Congressional District and serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Regarded as the most powerful committee in the House, Ways and Means sets fiscal policy for the entire country — specifically taxation and funding designation for federal programs. As a result, this committee oversees the administration of all government functions, ranging from Medicare to unemployment benefits.
Brady will be a key player in the new Congress, as President-elect Trump and Republicans iron out the details of a comprehensive tax reform package — a longstanding priority of congressional Republicans who have worked for years to lower rates, broaden the tax base and eliminate loopholes. Meanwhile, Trump hopes to raise tariffs on imported goods in efforts to force the purchase of American-made goods, but there is little appetite among Republicans for these punitive measures without an overhaul of the entire system that ultimately reduces the tax burden. Nearly all of the negotiations on all fiscal policy will take place between the White House and House Ways and Means Committee in cooperation with congressional leadership.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (North Carolina)
Foxx represents North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and will serve as the chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. This committee is responsible for all lawmaking concerning every level of the educational process, from pre-school through continuing education, as well as labor relations in the United States.
Foxx will be an important voice in Republican efforts to institute meaningful reforms to improve educational opportunities for all children. School choice initiatives enjoy vast bipartisan support, with holdouts remaining among Democratic lawmakers loyal to their teachers’ union backers. Trump and Betsy DeVos, his nominee to head the Department of Education, advocate sweeping public education reforms. Foxx and her colleagues would be wise to spend the first half of 2017 pushing aspirational agenda items like school choice as Republicans work to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (Tennessee)
Roe is a medical doctor, U.S. Army veteran and, since 2009, the representative for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District. This year, he takes over as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been mired in scandals throughout much of the Obama Administration. Veterans have been left to die without adequate care, while others face senseless bureaucracy and long lines to receive the treatment they need. Republicans support major reforms of the entire department, especially as it concerns the quality of medical care veterans receive. With Trump in the White House, Republicans are optimistic they’ll achieve their goals.
Roe, whose own professional experience includes serving as an army physician, will be the foremost leader in exposing abuses and fixing a broken system that has left too many American heroes behind.
Rep. Martha McSally (Arizona)
McSally returns to Congress after a landslide victory for a seat she was supposed to lose. She now represents one of the country’s most volatile swing congressional districts, Arizona’s 2nd, after more than two decades of distinguished service in the U.S. Air Force.
Security and foreign policy are top policy priorities for McSally, and she’s known for her legislative enthusiasm. Even as a freshman during the 114th Congress, she had several bills signed into law. But perhaps her most important role will be as the voice of a border district during a Trump Administration. She chairs the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, covering issues that have made up the cornerstone of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Rep.-elect Liz Cheney (Wyoming)
Congresswoman-elect Liz Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. In November, she won the Wyoming at-large congressional seat her father once held. Cheney, a lawyer who has served in various defense and foreign policy-related positions over her three-decade career, is regarded as a foreign relations and security expert.
Cheney is expected to be an important voice on protecting Americans, as well as dismantling terrorist groups worldwide. She has already expressed disagreement with President-elect Trump on a variety of foreign policy matters, and her expertise could prove essential as congressional GOP leadership prepare to cope with Trump’s warmth toward Russia and the consequences of his friendliness with its president, Vladimir Putin.
Ellen Carmichael is a senior writer for Opportunity Lives. Follow her on Twitter @ellencarmichael.