Congress returns to Washington with aggressive conservative agenda

As a new Congress convenes Tuesday, Republicans will arrive with a long and aggressive to-do list, emboldened by majorities in the House and the Senate and the promise of President-elect Donald Trump.

Working from a blueprint of the last half-decade, they're anxious to enact the conservative policy agenda that a Democratic White House has thwarted, undoing much of President Barack Obama's legacy in the process.

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United States Senators in the 114th Congress
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United States Senators in the 114th Congress

Lisa Murkowski, R - Alaska

(Photo by Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Daniel Sullivan, R - Alaska

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jeff Sessions, R - Alabama

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Richard Shelby, R - Alabama

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

John Boozman, R - Arkansas

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tom Cotton, R - Arkansas

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Jeff Flake, R - Arizona

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

John McCain, R - Arizona

(Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Barbara Boxer, D - California

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Dianne Feinstein, D - California

(Photo credit JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Bennet, D - Colorado

(Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Cory Gardner, R - Colorado

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Richard Blumenthal, D - Connecticut

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Christopher Murphy, D - Connecticut

(Photo via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Thomas Carper, D - Delaware

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Christopher Coons, D - Delaware

(Photo via Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bill Nelson, D - Florida

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Marco Rubio, R - Florida

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Johnny Isakson, R - Georgia

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

David Perdue, R - Georgia

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mazie Hirono, D - Hawaii

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Brian Schatz, D - Hawaii

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Joni Ernst, R - Iowa

(Photo by Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Chuck Grassley, R - Iowa

(Photo by Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mike Crapo, R - Idaho

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

James Risch, R - Idaho

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Richard Durbin, D - Illinois

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mark Kirk, R - Illinois

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Daniel Coats, R - Indiana

(Photo via REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

Joe Donnelly, D - Indiana

(Photo via Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Jerry Moran, R - Kansas

(Pete Marovich/MCT via Getty Images)

Pat Roberts, R - Kansas

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mitch McConnell, R - Kentucky

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rand Paul, R - Kentucky

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Bill Cassidy, R - Louisiana

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

David Vitter, R - Louisiana

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Elizabeth Warren, D - Massachusetts

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Benjamin Cardin, D - Maryland

(Photo via REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

Barbara Mikulski, D - Maryland

(Photo via REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

Susan Collins, R - Maine

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Gary Peters, D - Michigan 

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Debbie Stabenow, D - Michigan

(Photo via REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Al Franken, D - Minnesota

(Photo via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Amy Klobuchar, D - Minnesota

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Roy Blunt, R - Missouri

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Claire McCaskill, D - Missouri

(Photo via REUTERS/ Sarah Conard)

Thad Cochran, R - Mississippi

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Roger Wicker, R - Mississippi

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Steve Daines, R - Montana

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jon Tester, D - Montana

(Photo via REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

Richard Burr, R - North Carolina

(Photo via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Thom Tillis, R - North Carolina

(Photo via REUTERS/Davis Turner)

John Hoeven, R - North Dakota

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Deb Fischer, R - Nebraska

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cory Booker, D - New Jersey

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Chuck Schumer, D - New York

(Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Sherrod Brown, D - Ohio

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Rob Portman, R - Ohio

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

James Inhofe, R - Oklahoma

(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

James Lankford, R - Oklahoma

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jeff Merkley, D - Oregon

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ron Wyden, D - Oregon

(Photo by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Robert Casey, D - Pennsylvania

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Patrick Toomey, R - Pennsylvania

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Jack Reed, D - Rhode Island

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sheldon Whitehouse, D - Rhode Island

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lindsey Graham, R - South Carolina

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Tim Scott, R - South Carolina

(Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Mike Rounds, R - South Dakota

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

John Thune, R - South Dakota

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images) 

Lamar Alexander, R - Tennessee

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Bob Corker, R - Tennessee

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

John Cornyn, R - Texas

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ted Cruz, R - Texas

(Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Orrin Hatch, R - Utah

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mike Lee, R - Utah

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tim Kaine, D - Virginia

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mark Warner, D - Virginia

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Patrick Leahy, D - Vermont

(Photo credit CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders, I - Vermont

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Maria Cantwell, D - Washington

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Patty Murray, D - Washington

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tammy Baldwin, D - Wisconsin

(Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

Ron Johnson, R - Wisconsin

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Shelley Moore Capito, R - West Virginia

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Joe Manchin, D - West Virginia

(Photo by Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

John Barrasso, R - Wyoming

(Photo via REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Michael Enzi, R - Wyoming

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

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A repeal of the Affordable Care Act will take top priority, but the list also includes a reversal of environmental regulations they feel has limited energy production as well as financial regulations that they say burdened businesses and employers. Planned Parenthood, one of several women's health organizations Obama took steps to protect with new regulations last month, will find itself once more on the chopping block.

Once the respective bodies finish some initial housekeeping tasks, such as swearing in members and electing the speaker of the House, reversing the past eight years will be the focus — and in less than three weeks, they'll welcome a new Republican president as a strong ally of their cause.

Here's a look at what the GOP Congress has on its docket right out of the gate this week:

Obamacare Repeal

The top legislative priority for House and Senate Republicans is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The first step of that two-step process will begin this week in the Senate with the House following suit shortly after.

But Republicans are already facing challenges, even in the repeal process. The cost of repeal is high, with the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimating that it would cost $137 billion over ten years. And then there's the political fallout. Republicans must decide if they will insert components to appeal to their conservative base, like ending funding for Planned Parenthood, which would risk repelling moderate Republicans that they need for it to pass the Senate.

Related: Five Things You May Not Know About Obamacare

Democrats are engaging in a messaging offensive in defense of Obamacare and President Barack Obama will meet with Democrats on the Hill on Wednesday to plot strategies to keep parts of the legislation.

Trump's Nominations

The Senate is responsible for confirming — or defeating — incoming President Donald Trump's nominees. The only one scheduled thus far is the confirmation hearing of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, to be attorney general. ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing to be secretary of state is tentatively slated for January 11 and Andy Puzder to lead the Labor Department may begin as early as January 12.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, pushing for quick confirmations, is using the confirmations of incoming President Barack Obama's nominee as the standard. He notes that seven of Obama's nominees were confirmed on his inauguration day.

Related: Key Congressional Players to Watch in 2017

But Democrats point to the lack of public service of many of Trump's nominees, including Tillerson and Puzder. Democrats argue that these nominees must undergo more thorough vetting, including the release of their tax returns and are threatening to slow-walk the nomination process. Democrats also say that Trump didn't do basic vetting of his nominees, such as background checks, which is also slowing the process.

United Nations Security Council Resolution on Israel

Bipartisan members in the House and the Senate slammed the United Nations for passing a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. (The U.S. abstained from voting.) According to a joint statement from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Foreign Affairs Chair Ed Royce, the House will vote Thursday to condemn the U.N. resolution.

Reversing Obama Regulations

House Republicans are expected to get to work immediately on rolling back some of President Barack Obama's regulations. They'll use legislative vehicles, including the REINS Act, which allows Congress to undo some recent regulations that cost the economy more than $100 million. The other mechanism is the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which enables Congress to package rules passed by the administration over the last six months into one repeal package, instead of having to undo one regulation at a time.

Passing the Rules Package

In defiance of their leadership, Republican members voted Monday night to severely weaken ethics rules governing House members. Instead of an independent body determining if a member should be investigated for ethics violations, that rules change puts the responsibility under lawmakers who are likely to be less willing to investigate their peers. Ethics watchdogs said that these changes would be "returning the House to dark days when ethics violations were rampant and far too often tolerated."

The full House votes on the measure Tuesday.

New Members Sworn In

The first order of business when Congress convenes on Tuesday is the swearing in of the new and re-elected members. The Senate has seven new members and the House has 52 new members. With four of the new senators being women, the Senate will now have a record number of women serving — 21. It will also have a record number of minority women serving in the upper chamber.

Election of House Speaker Paul Ryan

On Tuesday, the new members of the House will elect the speaker of the House. With Republicans in the majority and most members of the GOP relatively pleased with Ryan, his re-election is sure to go smoothly.

Certifying the Electoral College

On Friday, a joint session of Congress will be convened to certify the results of the electoral college, the final step in the process that will seal the results of the presidential election for Trump.

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