by Nathan Lampshire ‘19
The 116th Congress assembled in the U.S. Capitol on January 3 to be sworn in as new lawmakers. The GOP maintains the majority of the senate by 6 votes, while the Democrats have control of the House by 33 votes. Notably, this term’s lawmakers bring an unprecedented diversity to Congress with 25 women in the senate and 333 women in the House.
Democrats will now become chairs of various committees involved in investigations against President Trump himself, as well as his administration and his businesses. Democrat Adam Schiff, or “little Adam Schitt” as Trump says, is the incoming chair to the House Intelligence Committee and is working to fully release transcripts from the panel interviews to Robert Mueller’s investigation, a major concern for Trump and his administration.
More importantly, however, is the Democrats first priority to disclose Trump’s tax returns. Democratic Rep. Richard Neal is now head of the House Ways and Means committee, which has the legal authority to formally request to obtain years worth of Trump’s tax returns. In addition, Democrats have revised H.R.1, a House bill that would require president and vice president nominees to disclose 3 years worth of tax returns. The revision has changed the 3 year requirement to 10 years. However, Democrats will face heavy opposition both from the republican controlled senate and House republicans such as Mark Meadows, the Freedom Caucus leader, who has sworn to protecting the president and his agenda.
A new bill has been introduced in the House in an attempt to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Trump’s alleged Russian ties. The bill states that if Trump is to fire Mueller, Mueller can appeal to a panel of federal judges to determine if he will continue his investigation. The bill will easily pass in the House, but will face opposition in the republican senate as they believe Trump would not act so recklessly, or the bill will lead to more unwanted investigations into members of Trump’s administration.
Trump is facing a challenging road ahead of him as he enters the third year of his presidential term. Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings has become the chair of the House committee on oversight and government reform. After sitting through many investigations led by republicans against Obama, Cummings now has his time in power. He will pursue two tracks of investigations. The first will investigate whether Trump has profited from the presidency, the decision to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census, and the hush payments to Trump’s alleged affairs. The second track will investigate Trump’s proposal to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service and the proposal to set a Medicare International Pricing Index- a proposal which would set prescription drug prices to the same as those of other industrial countries.
One thing is for certain, however. The 116th Congress is like none other and the diversity and polarization will continue the fiery opposition between the GOP and Democrats as Trump’s presidential term enters its third year.