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Research Of The Democratic Party Majority In Congress

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The November of 2018 midterm election was a huge victory for the Democratic Party in America, as they gained the majority in Congress for the first time after 8 years of Republican control. This majority is younger and full of fresh ideas, but is less in numbers. There are twenty-one fewer Democratic occupied seats than the last Nancy Pelosi ran majority. However, they are seen as being more ideologically homogeneous, which many see as a positive sign for the future of the party. Many of the current elected Republican members have never been part of the minority, and on the other side, many of the Democrats have never been part of the majority. This new wave is been considered uncharted territory for nearly everyone on both sides of the political aisle in the House of Representatives. This exciting Democratic majority is younger and more racially diverse than America has seen, with the eventual goal over the next two years being to convince the American voters that their party is the best choice for governing this country when the time for the Presidential election rolls around in 2020.

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The new Democratic congressional majority first began to shed light on their top priorities in May of 2018, as they were gearing up for the November elections during this crucial time of the campaigning season. Some of the biggest issues that the party put their collective focus on include the bill HR1, which was introduced to the house on January 3rd 2019. This bill has three main points of focus, which include new anti-lobbying rules, expanding American voting rights, and campaign finance reform. Another top priority of this new majority is common sense gun reform, as the Democratic Party as a whole is strongly for universal background checks and working closing the various loopholes that are available when purchasing a firearm. Another issue currently being focused by the Democratic majority is what action should be taken to combat the climate change that the world is currently facing. One of the newly elected congress members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been outspoken in her support of a plan called the “Green New Deal”, which focuses on increasing the renewable energy in the United States, and slowly loosening the vice grip that the fossil fuel industry and planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions have on the United States economy. This blueprint also lays out the plan for more high paying jobs in industries that focus on clean, renewable energy.

When it comes down to what the Democratic controlled congress can do, while the Republican party has the control of the Presidency and the Senate, the new Democratic majority in Congress does not have a great deal of passing power. A power that they do possess is seen most clearly in investigations- they have the power to subpoena President Donald Trump. This presidency in particular has been full of various scandals and drama, and the new Democratic majority in the House has and will likely continue to use their new power to investigate a seemingly endless list of ignominy happening in the executive branch of the American Government.

These investigations can turn up important information, the Republican led congress during the Obama presidency unleashed several investigations over the Benghazi attacks, and those investigations are what eventually led the Republicans to the knowledge of Hilary Clinton’s private email server, and the infamous missing emails. This information could have very well been the biggest nail in the coffin of what was her 2016 Presidential campaign. There are likely hopes among the current Democratic majority that in these investigations, there will be a finding that could unleash a similar effect on the likely Donald Trump 2020 Republican candidacy. There are a number of things that the Democrats will likely subpoena in the coming months. Some of the more pressing issues include Jared Kushner’s security clearances and ties in business to other countries’ governments, the response of the Trump Administration to Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria, and the use of private email servers for government related business by Trump’s administration.

When it comes to what the United States government can do and how it can function now that there is a Democratic majority in the House, there will have to be more bipartisan work done in order to get things accomplished. Now that the Republicans do not have the automatic votes to pass policy, the Democrats and Republicans will have to reach across the aisle and create compromises that appeal to both sides in order to create anything that will actually be able to pass and eventually go into effect.

It is likely not a surprise that having a “divided” government slows the wheels of the federal government, and there has been a study to try and pinpoint the difference that this makes. In current research that analyzes the passage of 2,200 bills from 1949 to 2010, the findings were that a divided government slows down the process of passing legislations by an average of 60 days. This study also shows that the higher the level of polarization by party, the longer this delay tends to last. This typically makes partisan compromises even more difficult to come by. The ideological differences between the Democratic and Republican parties have been on the rise since the 1970s, and currently at an all time high of party polarization. These factors have constructed a challenging environment to establish and pass public policy in Washington D. C.

America has seen recent issues that were not able to end in compromise, and caused a delay that affected the lives of many Americans. The country is recently removed from what became a historic shutdown, which was the longest in the history of American Government. Spanning from December 22nd to January 25th, this shutdown resulted from President Donald Trump and Congress failing to reach an agreement on an appropriations bill to fund the operations of the federal government for the 2019 fiscal year, with the main disagreement being over Trump’s demand for $5. 7 billion in federal funds for a U. S. – Mexico border wall. This shutdown caused over 800,000 federal employees to not receive their payment, and many still had to go into work without knowing when they would be able to get their next paycheck.

A continuing headlining issue that has been happening in the American political landscape since February, is Donald Trump attempting to file a national emergency declaration, which would reprogram military funds to help build more miles of his border wall. There has been an intriguing development to this story, as the house Democrats voted to file a lawsuit over this issue. The argument that will be made is that that his declaration violates the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause, as constitutional authority did not authorize the action he took. The lawsuit reads: “The House is unaware of any other instance in American history where a President has declared a national emergency to obtain funding after failing to win Congressional approval for an appropriation”.

This new Democratic majority has their work cut out for them in this current political climate, as they are pushing a very ambitious political agenda. They do and will likely continue to have their hands full, as they work their way through policy and the various investigations that will likely be unleashed on the Trump administration in the coming months. How the Democrats decide to continue to wield their newfound authority in Washington will help in determining if the party will have what it takes to keep their majority in the House, and to remove President Trump from the White House after the 2020 election.

Works Cited

  1. Durkin, Erin. “US Government Shutdown: What Is It, Will It Happen and Who’s to Blame?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 20 Dec. 2018, www. theguardian. com/us-news/2018/dec/19/us-government-shutdown-explainer-what-is-it-will-it-happen-and-whos-to-blame.
  2. Friedman, Lisa. “What Is the Green New Deal? A Climate Proposal, Explained. ” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Feb. 2019, www. nytimes. com/2019/02/21/climate/green-new-deal-questions-answers. html.
  3. Hughes, Tyler, and Deven Carleson. “Divided Government and Delay in the Legislative Process. ” SAGE Journals, SAGE Journals, 23 Mar. 2015, journals. sagepub. com/doi/abs/10. 1177/1532673X15574594.
  4. McPherson, Lindsey. “Most House Democrats Will Be in Majority for First Time Ever. ” Roll Call, 13 Nov. 2018, www. rollcall. com/news/politics/house-democrats-next-congress-will-majority-first-time-ever.
  5. Nilsen, Ella. “The Incoming House Democratic Majority’s Agenda, Explained. ” Vox, Vox, 3 Jan. 2019, www. vox. com/policy-and-politics/2019/1/3/18140917/house-democrats-agenda-pelosi-explained.
  6. Perticone, Joe. “House Democrats Are Suing the Trump Administration to Block His National Emergency and Stop Border Wall Construction. ” Business Insider, Business Insider, 4 Apr. 2019, www. businessinsider. com/democrats-suing-trump-administration-border-wall-national-emergency-2019-4.
  7. Prokop, Andrew. “Trump’s Free Ride from Congress Just Ended. ” Vox, Vox, 7 Nov. 2018, www. vox. com/2018/11/6/18025036/election-results-democrats-win-house-trump-investigations-analysis.
  8. Thomsen, Jacqueline. “House Dems Sue Trump over National Emergency Declaration. ” The Hill, The Hill, 5 Apr. 2019, thehill. com/regulation/court-battles/437651-house-sues-trump-over-national-emergency-declaration.
31 October 2020

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