Congress gavels in with smiles, but ready to confront Trump

Washington • The House and Senate gaveled into session Thursday swathed in historical past, returning the primary lady to the speaker’s workplace and ushering in a various class of Democratic freshman lawmakers ready to confront President Donald Trump in a brand new period of divided authorities.

The 116th Congress is poised to be like none different. There are extra ladies than ever earlier than, and a brand new era of Muslims, Latinos, Native Americans and African-Americans in the House creating what lecturers name a reflective democracy, extra aligned with the inhabitants of the United States. The Republican facet in the House continues to be made up principally of white males, and in the Senate Republicans bolstered their ranks in the bulk.

In a nod to the second, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic chief, was broadly pledging to make Congress work for all Americans — addressing kitchen desk points at a time of deep financial churn — whilst her celebration is ready to problem Trump with investigations and subpoena powers that threaten the White House agenda. It’s the primary new Congress to convene amid a partial authorities shutdown, now in its 13th day over Trump’s calls for for cash for a wall alongside the U.S-Mexico border.

“This House will be for the people,” Pelosi was to say in remarks after successful the gavel, in accordance to excerpts launched forward of time, “to lower health costs and prescription drugs prices, and protect people with pre-existing conditions; to increase paychecks by rebuilding America with green and modern infrastructure — from sea to shining sea.”

Pelosi vowed “to restore integrity to government, so that people can have confidence that government works for the public interest, not the special interests.”

The day was unfolding as one in all each celebration and impatience. Newly elected lawmakers arrived, typically with mates and households in tow, to take the oath of workplace and pose for ceremonial photographs. The Democrats deliberate to rapidly move laws to re-open the federal government, but with out the funding Trump is demanding for his promised border wall.

Vice President Mike Pence swore in new senators––together with Utah’s Sen. Mitt Romney––but Senate Republicans underneath Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no plans to take into account the House payments to fund the federal government until Trump agrees to signal them into regulation. That ensures the shutdown will proceed, clouding the primary days of the brand new session.

It’s a time of stark nationwide political division that some analysts say is on par with the Civil War period. Battle strains are drawn not simply between Democrats and Republicans but inside the events themselves, splintered by their left and proper flanks.

Pelosi defied historical past in returning to the speaker’s workplace after eight years in the minority, overcoming inside opposition from Democrats––together with Utah’s Rep. Ben McAdams––demanding a brand new era of leaders. She would be the first to regain the gavel since legendary Sam Rayburn of Texas in 1955.

As speaker, she’ll face an early problem from the celebration’s sturdy wing of liberal newcomers, together with 29-year-old New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has risen to such prominence she is already recognized across the Capitol — and on her prolific social media accounts — by the nickname “AOC.” She mentioned she’d forged a no vote on a brand new package deal of guidelines to govern the House.

Ocasio-Cortez and different liberals oppose the pay-as-you-go funds provisions in the foundations package deal that may enable restrictive objections to any laws that may add to federal deficits. They say such restraints would hamstring Democratic efforts to make investments in well being care, training and develop a Green New Deal of renewable power infrastructure tasks to battle local weather change.

Republicans face their very own inside battles past simply the conservative House Freedom Caucus, but as they resolve how intently to tie their political fortunes to Trump. Many GOP senators are up for re-election in 2020 in states, together with Colorado and Maine, the place voters have blended views of Trump’s efficiency in the White House.

Trump, whose personal bid for 2020 already is underway, faces potential challenges from the ranks of Senate Democrats underneath Chuck Schumer. Trump had little to say early Thursday as the brand new Congress was convening, but he did tweet an assault on one in all his possible presidential challengers, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, mocking her declare to Native American ancestry.

The halls of the Capitol have been bustling with arrivals.

Overnight, Democratic Rep-elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted an image of her household on the airport. She wrote, “23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC. Today, we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali-American in Congress.”

Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

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