The 116th Congress is sworn in

DRIVING THE DAY — The 116th Congress is set to convene today at noon as members solemnly swear to govern a divided nation. While Republicans will increase their majority in the Senate, Democrats will take over control of the House of Representatives with Nancy Pelosi returning to the speakership to serve as the voice of the opposition to President Trump. [CSPAN]

Daniel Shapiro emails us: “Today, America restores the checks and balances the Founders intended, with a Democratic House majority that will assert itself, pursue a different agenda from the Administration, and conduct badly needed Congressional oversight. With a Democratic House and Republican Senate, and the 2020 election fast upon us, compromise will be difficult to come by, but for many Democrats, stopping Administration excesses and ethical abuses, and laying out an agenda for when Democrats have fuller control, will be worthwhile in its own right.”

“Hopefully, even more can be achieved. I expect continued strong bipartisan support for the close U.S.-Israel security partnership, and renewed emphasis on preserving, and where possible advancing, the two-state solution.”

Norm Eisen: “Nancy Pelosi will cement her reputation as one of the greatest Speakers ever, right up there with Sam Rayburn, by once again doing the impossible. Then it was getting a divided and unruly caucus to pass legislation that had thwarted every previous speaker for decades. The challenge is that there is so much to investigate, but with Pelosi working with smart and deeply experienced committee chairs like Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings, the investigations will be devastating. That does not mean that deals will not happen on things like re-opening the government and infrastructure. Both sides need them and they will get done, as will the pro-Israel legislation. Pelosi has demonstrated the ability to work with the independent members of her caucus since the election, as she has throughout her career, and while there may be some continued drama, she will find workable compromises.”

Newly-elected members to be sworn in today include Andy Levin (D-MI), Mike Levin (D-CA), Max Rose (D-NY), Dr. Kim Schrier (D-WA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Dean Phillips (D-MI), Susan Wild (D-PA), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

The new Congress will also feature a group of young activist members — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — who plan to defy leadership and dominate headlines. [Pic]

Noah Rothman, Associate Editor of Commentary Magazine, tells us: “It is clear that the independent streak exhibited by freshman Reps. Ro Khanna and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez signal that the Democrats, too, will have to deal with an unwieldy cohort of ideologically zealous lawmakers who command the sympathies of the base, just as Republicans did when they took the House majority in 2011. And given that even Sen. Elizabeth Warren had to pay deference to Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal plan when announcing a 2020 presidential exploratory committee, and the freshman representative thanked her for her prudent courtesy, they appear aware of the power they are being allowed to wield.”

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