House Democrats eye post-Mueller agenda
The House will return next week with plans to take up legislation on some of the Democratic Party’s core priorities — fighting climate change, expanding Obamacare and lowering drug prices.
But House Democrats’ spring agenda also includes some of the trickier issues that have divided the caucus — like minimum wage and immigration — that could present a fresh challenge for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her deputies at the same time that the party barrels ahead with investigations into President Donald Trump.
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Democrats also plan to revive a months-old fight over Puerto Rico disaster funding with Trump, as both parties seek a long-delayed compromise bill to deliver billions of dollars to a half-dozen states ravaged by recent storms, floods or wildfires.
As the two-week recess draws to a close, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has laid out ambitious plans for the next several weeks, the first time the House will be in session since the public release of the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s explosive report.
But in Hoyer’s letter to colleagues, he makes no mention of the Democrats’ escalating probes into Trump’s possible obstruction of justice.
To kick off, Democrats are expected to easily approve a messaging bill calling for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.
Besides must-pass bills like reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, Democrats will also take up legislation to expand protections to the LGBT community, as well as a retirement financing bill.
“It is my hope that Senate Republicans will stop blocking progress on the issues Americans have asked us to address. We will continue to urge them to meet their responsibilities to their constituents and join us in sending legislation to the President for his signature,” Hoyer wrote in the letter.
Hoyer said Democratic leaders are also aiming to put a bill on the floor to protect so-called Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children — and other people who hold temporary protected status.
But a bill related to immigration could attract a slew of other policy demands from progressives, who have been outraged by the Trump administration’s policies, while isolating the party’s more moderate flank.
At around the same time, Democrats have already begun to craft a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security — the same issue that led to a 35-day government shutdown earlier this year.
Democrats, led by Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.), are also actively working to secure the votes for a $15-an-hour minimum wage bill, attempting to make good on a key campaign pledge without isolating the party’s centrists, who have so far been reluctant to sign on.
Some moderates from more rural areas have said they prefer a less drastic path to a $15-an-hour mandate nationwide, preferring a bill from Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) that would instead create a “regional minimum wage” that takes into consideration an area’s cost of living,
“We will continue to have those discussions, and will look to take action later this Spring,” Hoyer wrote in his letter.