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Democrats in new Congress: Thorns in Trump's side

Democrats in new Congress: Thorns in Trump's side

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who will become speaker of the House on Thursday, walks to her new office at the Capitol during a television interview for the NBC Today Show, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON: US Democrats, who regain control of the House of Representatives on Thursday (Jan 3), have pledged to challenge Donald Trump on multiple fronts: From Congressional inquiries on Russian election meddling to battles over immigration and health care, as murmurs about impeachment proceedings persist.

Congress will feature the largest number of progressive lawmakers in many years, and they appear to be in no mood to appease a president who is standing firm on his pursuit of funding for a wall on the southern border with Mexico.

Led by Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, Democrats will pounce on Day 1, moving legislation to end a partial government shutdown, and a separate measure to protect insurance coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Republicans still maintain control of the US Senate, but here are key ways that newly empowered House Democrats could create all manner of headaches for Trump:


As a result of their victory in November's mid-term elections, Democrats will take over leadership of all House committees.

Incoming chairpersons have signalled that Trump will face a barrage of probes that could lay bare alleged conflicts of interest, misuse of funds, and abuse of power by the president and members of his cabinet.

Additional investigations could bog down a White House already besieged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia collusion probe, draining energy from the administration's agenda and foiling Trump's message.

Incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler has warned he intends to investigate Trump's November firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions, a move that put Mueller's probe in jeopardy.

A top priority will be Trump's tax returns, which he refused to make public during his campaign. Pelosi said in October that demanding them "is one of the first things we'd do."


The issue of illegal immigration has fuelled much of Trump's political agenda and his clashes with Democrats.

The president is insisting on US$5 billion in funding for a border wall, which he says will put a check on undocumented migrants entering the country illegally. But Democrats are having none of it.

When Trump threatened to veto any spending bill without the wall late last month, funding lapsed for several agencies and a partial government shutdown ensued.

On Thursday, Pelosi will introduce two bills to fund the shuttered agencies, but she noted that they "contain no new wall funding."

The White House called Pelosi's plan a non-starter.

But on Tuesday, Trump was openly asking if Democrats were willing to negotiate.

"Let's make a deal?" he tweeted.


A Democratic-led House will undoubtedly slow Trump's legislative agenda. Their first major bill on Thursday will include a major overhaul of campaign finance and voting and ethics laws.

The draft may not pass the Republican-held Senate, but it will form part of a Democratic blueprint heading into the 2020 presidential election year.

The president will be faced with an opposition party intent on defending the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health care reforms that Republicans have repeatedly sought to repeal.

Democrats will move early to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a popular feature of the Affordable Care Act that a judge in Texas recently struck down.

House Democrats are thumbing their nose at Trump by putting the environment front and center. They established a special new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis so the government can better respond to the urgency of global warming.


Hovering in the background of the new 116th Congress will be the threat of impeachment, and it is all but certain that some liberal Democrats will introduce proceedings to remove the president from office.

Even if Democrats believe some of Trump's actions, including Trump's reported hush money payments to women during the 2016 campaign, clear the threshold of "high crimes and misdemeanors," Pelosi has downplayed the prospects of impeachment.

Should the House manage to impeach Trump, removing him from office would be difficult. He would need to be convicted by two-thirds of US senators - an unlikely prospect, unless members of his own Republican party turns on him.

Source: AFP/de


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