The Republican-led Congress is wasting no time forcing through the most horrendous bills seen in decades while America’s eyes are on Russia.
With both houses of Congress solidly under Republican control, there’s little in the way to stop House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) from sending bills to President Trump’s desk that embody the most dangerous aspects of radical right-wing ideology.
However unlikely these bills’ passage would have seemed in the 114th Congress, the possibility of these nine bills becoming law is much higher now, especially considering the flurry of headlines around Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal on the ongoing investigation into the president’s Russian connections, and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s multiple meetings with several of Trump’s top lieutenants.
Here are the nine worst bills to keep an eye on:
1. H.R. 861: To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
This bill — cosponsored by Republican members of Congress from fossil fuel-producing states — is just one sentence long, and says nothing about what would happen to the multiple environmental regulations the EPA has instituted since 1970, or its multibillion-dollar budget, or its thousands of staffers. H.R. 861 is currently awaiting action in the subcommittee on environment.
2. H.R. 610: Tax dollars for private schools
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced this bill in January, which would redistribute funding earmarked for public schools in the form of vouchers for parents to send children to private schools. Over the long term, this would eventually bankrupt public schools, and create a stratified education system in which cash-strapped public schools would be unable to meet the educational needs of low-income students. The bill is awaiting action in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
3. H.R. 899: To terminate the Department of Education
If this bill, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), becomes law, the U.S. Department of Education would terminate by the end of 2018. The bill’s brevity leaves many questions unanswered, like what would happen with Department of Education grants for public schools and universities, its budget, or its staff. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said she would personally be “fine” if the agency she heads were to be abolished.
4. H.J.R. 69: To repeal a rule protecting wildlife
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), whose constituents likely include hunters who kill wildlife for sport rather than for food, introduced this joint resolution voicing displeasure with a Department of Interior rule that prohibits “non-subsistence” hunting in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The resolution passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.
5. H.R. 370: To repeal the Affordable Care Act
While President Obama was in office, House Republicans voted at least 60 times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — despite its futility. However, the Trump administration has made the repeal of Obamacare a top priority, meaning the repeal bill from Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) is likely to pass.
6. H.R. 354: To defund Planned Parenthood
Despite the widely publicized debunking of the video alleging the women’s health nonprofit was selling human organs, Republicans are still refusing to stop destroying Planned Parenthood. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill that would prevent any federal grants from going to Planned Parenthood for a full year unless they swore to not perform abortions. As the chart below from Planned Parenthood shows, only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood resources go toward abortions, while the vast majority of funding is used to help low-income women get STD tests, contraceptive care, and breast cancer screenings:
7. H.R. 785: National Right-to-Work legislation
Conservative ideologue Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is aiming to cripple unions at the nationwide level with a bill that would systematically deprive labor unions of the funding they need to operate. Unions often provide one of the crucial pillars of support for Democratic candidates and causes, and conservatives aim to destroy them once and for all by going after their funding. It’s important to note that right-to-work is bad for all workers, not just union members — in 2015, the Economic Policy Institute learned that wages in right-to-work states are roughly 3.2 percent lower than in non-right-to-work states.
8. H.R. 83: Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act
Multiple cities and states around the country have openly stated that they won’t abide by President Trump’s plan to aggressively round up and deport undocumented immigrants. A bill by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania) would strip all federal funding of any city that doesn’t obey Trump’s immigration policies for up to a year.
9. H.R. 147: To criminalize certain forms of abortion
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona) wants to aggressively prosecute pregnant women seeking abortions, along with abortion providers, by making abortion a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. While Franks’ bill wouldn’t universally target all abortions, and just abortions made for sex, gender, race, or color of the child, it nonetheless opens the floodgates for future actions criminalizing abortion in the future. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
To fight back against these bills, call 202-224-3121, ask for your member of Congress, and tell them to vote no.
Tom Cahill is a writer for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.