Lisa Mascaro, AP Congressional CorrespondentPublished: 03 January 2019 (repost from The Skanner)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House and Senate gaveled into session Thursday swathed in history, returning the first woman to the speaker’s office and ushering in a diverse class of Democratic freshman lawmakers ready to confront President Donald Trump in a new era of divided government.
The 116th Congress is poised to be like none other. There are more women than ever before, and a new generation of Muslims, Latinos, Native Americans and African-Americans in the House creating what academics call a reflective democracy, more aligned with the population of the United States. The Republican side in the House is still made up mostly of white men, and in the Senate Republicans bolstered their ranks in the majority.
In a nod to the moment, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, was broadly pledging to make Congress work for all Americans — addressing kitchen table issues at a time of deep economic churn — even as her party is ready to challenge Trump with investigations and subpoena powers that threaten the White House agenda. It’s the first new Congress to convene amid a partial government shutdown, now in its 13th day over Trump’s demands for money for a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.
A House for The People
“This House will be for the people,” Pelosi was to say in remarks after winning the gavel, according to excerpts released ahead 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 of both celebration and impatience. Newly elected lawmakers arrived, often with friends and families in tow, to take the oath of office and pose for ceremonial photos. The Democrats planned to quickly pass legislation to re-open the government, but without the funding Trump is demanding for his promised border wall.