Corker, Alexander ready to help shape Trump agenda

Tennessee U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander are readying for their upcoming “pivotal” roles in shaping new policies as chairmen of Senate committees with Donald Trump as president, reports Michael Collins.

Corker will retain his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will make him the chief monitor of the nation’s foreign policy (in the Senate – if isn’t appointed to Trump’s cabinet)… Alexander will stay on as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will put him in the middle of efforts to undo much of President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law.

Corker said he expected to begin formulating the agenda for his committee after a retreat with his staff.

…One issue almost certain to land before Corker’s committee is the nuclear deal that President Barack Obama’s administration and other Western leaders negotiated with Iran. The agreement called for Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

Trump has said he wants to renegotiate the pact, which he called “the stupidest deal of all time.” Vice President-elect Mike Pence has said the deal would be “ripped up” after consultation with U.S. allies.

Corker, who has been critical of the deal from the start, called the chance to revisit it “one of the great outcomes of this election.” At a minimum, he said, the new administration will mean there’s an even better opportunity to hold Iran’s feet to the fire.

Alexander said he expects Trump and his new administration to move quickly to dismantle parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Trump has said he wants to repeal the health reform law. But Alexander said some parts of the law that are popular will likely remain in place, such as provisions guaranteeing everyone the right to buy health insurance and allowing young adults to remain covered under their parents’ policy until age 26.

Alexander said his committee will work with Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, to make sure Americans have more options for low-cost health insurance next year.

“We need to move on it quickly next year because we run the risk of our insurance markets in Tennessee literally collapsing in 2017 and 2018,” meaning in some counties there will be no insurance company willing to sell policies to people wanting to buy insurance, Alexander said.

The committee also will begin working to roll back some of the Obama administration’s regulations for implementing the new education reform law passed late last year, Alexander said.

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