Dec 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump's Capitol Hill allies push part of his 2025 agenda

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump's allies in Congress are pushing a series of bills that reflect part of his 2025 agenda, including plans to crack down on mask mandates, affirmative action and who can become a U.S. citizen.

Why it matters: The recent proposals show that even as Trump plans to remake the executive branch in a way that would give him unprecedented power as president, Trump's MAGA loyalists on Capitol Hill aim to turn many of his campaign-rally talking points into law.

  • The proposals also reflect Trump's influence on Congress' GOP caucus — despite losing the 2020 election, his not-so-stellar record endorsing other Republicans, and the prospect of facing four felony trials as he runs for president next year.
  • Trump's been endorsed by at least 83 House Republicans and 16 GOP senators for the 2024 election, when Republicans will try to take over the Senate while Democrats will seek to regain control of the House.

Zoom in: Sen. J.D. Vance's (R-Ohio), one of Trump's most loyal backers in Congress, introduced a bill over the summer to bar the Department of Transportation from enforcing mask mandates, a popular cause in Trumpworld.

  • The bill, an echo of conservative criticisms of pandemic-era restrictions, passed the Senate with votes from 10 Democrats. Trump has promised to "use every available authority to cut federal funding to any school, college, airline or public transportation system" imposing a mask or vaccine mandate.
  • Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Vance this week introduced a bill to create a federal office to investigate any claims of colleges using affirmative action in admissions — essentially an agency to police a Supreme Court ruling this year that Trump and other Republicans cheered.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), another Trump loyalist, has joined Vance in proposing bills that would make gender-affirming care for minors a felony, another priority on the far right's social agenda.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), meanwhile, introduced legislation to end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants after Trump vowed to sign an executive order to do the same on his first day back in office day.
  • Vance also introduced a bill to eliminate EV subsidies shortly after Trump railed against them at an auto plant in Detroit.

The intrigue: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Greene have put forward a pair of legally dubious bills that would aim to "expunge" Trump's two impeachments — an idea Trump talks about frequently and would favor, people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.

  • Legal analysts largely agree, though, that Congress has no such authority.

Between the lines: One of the biggest issues Trump had as president was a lack of ideological allies in the Senate even though it was controlled by the GOP, a person close to Trump's campaign tells Axios.

  • If Trump were to win a second term, he'd hope for another GOP majority in the Senate and count on Vance and a few other like-minded Republicans senators such as Eric Schmitt (Missouri), Tommy Tuberville (Alabama) and Roger Marshall (Kansas) to be "bulldogs" for his policies, the source close to the campaign tells Axios.
  • In the House, Trump enjoys a close relationship with new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). During Trump's first impeachment hearings, Johnson, then a member of the House Judiciary Committee, defended the president on TV.

Reality check: In today's Democrat-controlled Senate — and as long as both chambers of Congress aren't under total GOP control — the vast majority of the legislation proposed by Trump allies has no chance becoming law.

Go deeper