House Leadership Changing Hands: Democrats' Design, And Republican Response

Jan 3, 2019

With Meghna Chakrabarti

The Democrats take over the majority in the House. We’ll examine their game plan for the government shutdown, Mueller investigation and big policy proposals.

Guests

Sahil Kapur, national political reporter for Bloomberg Politics. (@sahilkapur)

Tracy Sefl, Democratic communications specialist. She served as a senior adviser to the Super PAC Ready for Hillary during the 2016 election. (@tracysefl)

Alex Conant, Republican strategist. Partner at Firehouse Strategies consulting firm. Former communications director for Marco Rubio. (@AlexConant)

From The Reading List

Bloomberg: “Ocasio-Cortez Breaks With Pelosi in Key Early Vote for Democrats” — “Progressive incoming House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plans to lay down an early marker with party leaders on Congress’s first day by voting against a package of legislative rules because it contains an austerity provision demanded by centrists.

“The rules measure, set for a vote on Thursday when the new Congress convenes, will reimpose a ‘pay as you go’ requirement that would allow challenges to legislation that adds to the deficit. The rules were negotiated by likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to satisfy concerns among members of the new the 235-member majority representing more conservative areas of the country.

“Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old representative-elect from New York City, said on Twitter Wednesday that the system referred to as paygo ‘isn’t only bad economics,’ but is ‘also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare+other leg. We shouldn’t hinder ourselves from the start.’ ”

NPR: “Democrats Announce Major Changes To U.S. House Rules” — “Top Democrats announced late Sunday a series of changes to House rules that could eliminate causes of major instability during the previous eight years of Republican rule in Congress.

“‘We are proposing historic changes that will modernize Congress, restore regular order and bring integrity back to this institution,’ said incoming House Rules Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., in a statement explaining the changes.

“When a new Congress convenes every two years, the majority party must approve a resolution outlining House rules, the intricate parliamentary procedures that govern the chamber. Two notable changes in the Democrats’ package are aimed at avoiding certain confrontations that became commonplace during the Republican majority from 2011 until the GOP’s 2018 midterm rout.

“Democrats will revive the ‘Gephardt Rule,’ named for former House Democratic leader Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., that automatically raises the debt ceiling — the nation’s borrowing limit — once the House passes a budget.”

Politico: “Why Trump has spared Pelosi from his personal vitriol — so far” — “When President Donald Trump took to Twitter last weekend to blame Democrats for the government shutdown, he notably bypassed his party’s favorite foil: Nancy Pelosi.

“And when Fox News teed up a chance for the president to unload on Pelosi in a New Year’s Eve interview, noting that the Democratic leader was vacationing in Hawaii during the shutdown while Trump stayed in Washington, he didn’t take the bait.

“His decision so far not to go after Pelosi personally, even as his top aides have blamed her for the shutdown, hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Capitol. Pelosi’s allies have viewed Trump’s restraint toward the incoming speaker as a sign that he’s looking beyond the shutdown in the hopes of notching some bipartisan wins this year — on infrastructure, perhaps, or prescription drug pricing.

“Of course, Trump’s tone toward Pelosi could change on a dime given his penchant for pummeling adversaries and the likelihood Pelosi will refuse his demand for billions in border wall funding. But the relative peace between the chief lightning rods of their respective parties, at least to this point, is pretty remarkable.”

New York Times: “In Newly Divided Government, Who Will Control the Political Agenda?” — “America will get its first taste of divided government under President Trump this week when a Democratic House tries to wrest control of the political agenda from Mr. Trump, who appears determined to keep the focus on border security, immigration and his ‘big, beautiful’ wall.

“After the midterm elections ushered in the most diverse freshman class in history, House Democrats intend to put a spotlight on the issues that worked well for them during the campaign: diminishing the influence of the wealthy and connected, expanding voting rights, lowering prescription drug costs and passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“Mr. Trump, on the defensive and presiding over a federal government that remains partially closed, is trying to stomp on that message. On Tuesday, as the government shutdown was in its 11th day, Mr. Trump invited congressional leaders of both parties to a briefing on border security Wednesday afternoon. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday night that Mr. Trump would attend.

“It would be the first visit by Democratic leaders to the White House since Dec. 11, when the president told Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer he would be ‘proud to shut down the government for border security.’ ”

Anna Bauman produced this show for broadcast.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.