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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Quick congressional update for returning Aggies

US+Capitol+Building
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker
US Capitol Building

A new year brought with it a new Congress. The 116th Congress first convened in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 3. Here’s what you need to know.
Who’s in charge?
As a result of the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2009. Meanwhile, Republicans retained and expanded their majority in the Senate.
Pelosi makes history again
Nancy Pelosi, D-California — the first woman to ever be elected Speaker of the House — became the first woman in U.S. history to be re-elected to that position.
The changing face of Congress
With 25 women, the Senate currently has the most female representation in the institution’s history. Additionally, a record 102 women will be joining the House of Representatives. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Florida, are the youngest and oldest female freshman representatives in history, respectively. The percentage of self-identified Jewish congressional members, 6.4 percent, is the highest ever, according to the Pew Research Center.
Democrats and their bold agenda
On their first day of control, House Democrats introduced the “For The People Act of 2019,” a sweeping electoral reform and government ethics bill that aims to, in the words of the act, “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants,” among other reforms.
Ongoing investigations
Democrats campaigned on and signaled that they intended to use the House’s oversight authority to aggressively investigate the Trump administration if they regained control of the House. The Democrats wasted no time on this, already holding a hearing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the Treasury Department’s decision to ease sanctions on Oleg Deripaska — a Russian oligarch implicated in the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Democrats have also dedicated an entire subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee to investigate Trump’s foreign policy decisions and scheduled a public hearing before the House Oversight committee on Feb. 7 with former Trump attorney Michael Cohen — who recently implicated President Trump in campaign finance violations.
The shutdown continues
Much of the beginning of the current Congress has been occupied by the government shutdown over Trump’s demand for money for a border wall. House Democrats tried to end the shutdown by voting on a government funding bill that had been approved by the Senate at the end of the last Congress, but Senate Republicans refused to take up that bill without the President’s support. Democrats have been passing a series of funding bills aimed at putting pressure on Republicans while budget negotiations remain at an impasse.

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