Democrats’ wish list as they assume power in the House
WASHINGTON » Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to be clear about what the new Democratic House majority will not be: They will not, she insists, act like the Republicans.
“We believe that we will not become them,” she said in a New Year’s Day phone interview during a visit to her native Baltimore. “We’re not going to do to them what they did to President Obama. … It’s really important for us not to become them and certainly not to become like the president of the United States in terms of how he speaks without any basis of fact, evidence, data or truth.
“We will respect each other’s opinions, and respect the truth.” Note: She said this before President Trump’s series of false claims in advance of his Wednesday meeting with congressional leaders about the government shutdown he precipitated in pursuit of his border wall.
Pelosi also pushes back hard against the idea that in holding Trump and his administration accountable, Democrats will be engaging in some sort of investigative orgy. On the contrary, she said, Article I of the Constitution grants Congress responsibility for “oversight over the agencies of government.”
She adds pointedly: “We don’t want the administration describing the traditional congressional responsibility for oversight to be labeled ‘investigation.’ There may be some investigations that spring from another purpose, but we will be strategic and not political when it comes to that.”
The Democrats’ assumption of power in the House this week will alter American politics in other ways.
While the two dozen or so potential presidential candidates will be cast as the ultimate arbiters of what Democrats will choose to stand for in 2020, the agenda Pelosi and her colleagues put forward could play an unusually large role in shaping how the nation sees the alternatives to Trumpism.
The woman who will return as speaker after an eightyear absence sounded almost gleeful in discussing the planks in the House platform.
At the top of the list is a sweeping political reform package linked to a new Voting Rights Act. Taking on the “special interests,” she said, will “give people confidence” in the rest of the Democratic wish list that includes workforce training, “building the infrastructure of America in a green way” and expanding health coverage by strengthening the Affordable Care Act.
The House’s first order of business is reopening the government. The House plans to pass a series of spending bills that have already been approved by the Republican Senate. A separate bill would extend existing funding for the Department of Homeland Security (where any money for a wall-like thing would reside) to allow a month of negotiation.
“If they reject this,” she says of the prospect that Senate Republicans will reject their own bills, “it would be highly irresponsible, and it would be a manifestation of the president of the United States making fools of them.”
Republican senators, of course, may prefer that to being attacked by Trump. This is what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested Wednesday in saying he’d reject any House bills that Trump wouldn’t sign. Still, her swipe reflected the tenacious approach to negotiating her supporters’ prize.
And then there’s the other side of Pelosi, who ended our conversation by declaring, “We want America’s heart to be full of love as we go forward.”
A delightful thought. But for Trump, it will be tough love.
New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has plans that include a new Voting Rights Act, an expanded Affordable Care Act, workforce training and green infrastructure.