Welcome to the 115th Congress!


Congress returns today from a holiday break and one of the agenda items high on Republicans’ list is to repeal Obamacare, though they haven’t yet agreed on policies to replace the law.

Fresh from an election that gave Republicans control of both the White House and Congress for the first time since 2006, lawmakers reassemble in the Capitol today to solemnly swear their oath of office, ratify rules changes and prepare for the political combat that will intensify even before Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration as the nation’s 45th president.

The GOP has majorities in the House and Senate it needs to pass such a measure. Yet lawmakers are debating delaying implementation of the repeal for two to four years, which would give them time to come up with a replacement. While President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, he has said he wants to maintain some parts, such as allowing people to remain on their parents’ plan until they turn 26 and requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Lawmakers take a brief pause from partisan conflict to celebrate the start of the 115th Congress with a parliamentary ceremony that has all the style, pomp and good cheer of a big family wedding. Swearing in day is a chance to see veterans and freshmen joined by their family and friends on the chamber floor for a festive and work day ahead.

U.S. Senate

For the last time in the 114th Congress, the Senate will meet in pro forma session at 11:55 a.m. Following adjournment, as prescribed by the Constitution, the Senate will stand in recess until noon, when the first Senate session of the 115th Congress is scheduled to begin.

The seven newly elected senators — Democrats Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Kamala Harris of California, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Republicans Todd Young of Indiana and John Kennedy of Louisiana — will take the oath of office after their election certificates are received. The 27 incumbent senators from both parties who were re-elected in November also will be sworn in.

Vice President Joe Biden as Senate president, Biden will swear in the 34 newly elected or re-elected senators today, and then on Friday he gets to preside over a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College ballots that sealed Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

U.S. House of Representatives

For the last time in the 114th Congress, the House will meet in pro forma session at 11 a.m. The House is scheduled to meet at noon to convene the first session of the 115th Congress.

The clerk of the House will call the chamber into session, lead a quorum call and preside over the election of the speaker. Watch to see if Republicans nominate or cast votes for someone other than Ryan or whether any Democrat nominates or votes for someone other than Pelosi. Members are called upon to stand and cast their votes individually when their surname is called in alphabetical order.

Following his expected election to a two-year term as speaker, Ryan will make remarks and be sworn in by Michigan Democrat John Conyers, the chamber’s longest-serving member. Then the newly re-elected speaker will administer the oath of office to his House colleagues.

The 114th Congress by the Numbers


As this 114th Congress comes to an end, here’s an overview of the 114th republican led Congress by the numbers:

The House has been in session for just 217 days as of December 6, compared to 252 days in session at this same point during the Democratic-led 111th Congress.

There have been 75 closed rules so far this Congress – which limit debate, reduce transparency, and block Members from offering amendments on legislation.

21 major pieces of legislation have been signed into law. A total of 248 bills have been signed into law, compared to 290 bills signed into law. Republicans have voted 65 times total to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act this Congress.

The 114th Congress was unable to pass a Budget or Complete the Appropriations Process.

As the 114th Congress comes to a close, the House left some important work on the table, such as:

  • Taking action to address gun violence in America;
  • Taking up legislation to raise the minimum wage, secure equal pay, or offer paid sick and family leave;
  • Addressing student debt;
  • Putting our nation on a fiscally sustainable path;
  • Fixing our broken immigration system; and
  • Protecting voting rights.

Looking towards the 115th Congress which will be led by Republicans as they take control of both Congress and the White House, it is the responsibility of their leaders to govern and address the issues most important to the American people.


What’s your take on the future of health care coverage?


Long before the election, we’ve been asking nurses to share their experiences with lawmakers and with each other. What you’ve seen and learned in the classroom and on the job is the truth of healthcare in America. But ever since the election, news stories on TV and online only want to talk about the political fights around healthcare – not the truth from nurses like you.

That’s why we’ll keep sharing your stories here in Washington – so the new Congress and the new administration see more than the political stakes and the dollar signs.

They need to hear the experiences of nurses like Lisa:

It would be grand if the ACA could be “fixed” to allow truly affordable coverage. I see patients at least once a week without coverage, and I work only with children. Those without are middle class who don’t make enough to afford it and make too much for assistance. I know families without insurance because they can’t afford the premiums. I know those whose jobs have been cut back to part time so employers can avoid offering too expensive health care. – Lisa, MI

And Cindy:

Many of my patients struggle to afford their medications, deductibles are going up as are monthly premiums. I don’t understand why the CEOs of insurance companies get paid such exorbitant salaries while denying coverage for basic diabetes supplies.

I would hope some kind of compromise could be reached in order to continue Medicaid expansion to all 50 states. Since I work in pediatrics, many of my patients are young adults who rely on their parent’s insurance coverage until age 26, so this needs to stay in place. – Cindy, TN

While pundits and politicians debate questions of health insurance in terms of millions of patients, or billions of dollars, they’re missing the vital perspective of nurses who work one-on-one with patients who could lose access to healthcare altogether.

And for nurses like Sarah, it hits even closer to home:

I am a nurse who is caring for my disabled parents and 3 small children. I also have my 24 year old cousin who lives with me. The Affordable Care Act makes sure that half of the members of my household have access to affordable healthcare. It also effects the ability of my patients to have access to mental health care. Please, do not repeal the ACA. You will plummet families like mine into financial crisis. – Sarah, CO

Lisa, Cindy, and Sarah see the struggles of their patients every day. And by sharing their own experiences, they’re helping Washington see more clearly what’s really at stake as the new Congress begins talking about massive changes to our healthcare system.

What have you seen that Washington needs to hear if they’re going to get healthcare right? Leave a comment below to weigh in!