After 8 years in the minority, what would Democrats do with a House majority?
It has been a long time since Democrats have owned a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Eight years to be precise.
But, less than a month away from the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats are licking their proverbial chops with a real shot at regaining the majority they lost in 2010.
With that in mind, Democrat leaders in the House have already started to formulate plans to roll out an aggressive agenda if they are successful in flipping the majority. Items ranging from protecting the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, strengthening Dodd-Frank banking regulations and protections for “Dreamers” among items on the board.
Perhaps the biggest task viewed by Democrats is, if they take back the majority, utilizing the House as a check and balance to the Trump Administration.
“Basically, a lot of the committees have just been rubber stamps for this administration,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, told The Hill.
One big question would be who will assume the top spots on committees if the Democrats gain control of the chamber? History would suggest top-ranking members, or those with the longest tenure, would be tasked with assuming chairmanships of committees. Here is a look at who could ascend to those top spots:
Appropriations — Rep. Nita Lowey, D-New York
Lowey is a 15-term congresswoman who would be the first woman to hold the gavel of the committee.
One thing she has said she would do first would be to look at appropriations bills separately, ending the trend of combining bills to ensure passage, according to The Hill report.
“I would hope on all of the 12 bills, that on the House side we could have bipartisan bills and do away with the poison pills and be more constructive,” Lowey said. “We won’t agree on everything,” she continued, “but hopefully at the end we can have regular order.”
Armed Services — Rep. Adam Smith D-Washington
Smith, who is in the midst of his 11th term in Congress has said that the nation’s nuclear program would be “top of the list” if he were to assume the chair.
He added that another big item would be a closer examination of the Department of Defense budget, which will be more than $700 billion in the next fiscal year, according to The Hill.
“How much money are we realistically going to have for defense versus our other priorities?” he asked.
An additional issue he said he would address would be stronger oversight of Special Forces operations, especially in areas where such operations have yielded “a significant increase in civilian casualties.”
Budget — Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky
Yarmuth has suggested he wants to expand the role of the committee, which has been limited in scope before.
He has suggested increasing the oversight of the committee to include taxes, immigration, health care and climate change, according to The Hill.
“Those kind of 30,000-foot analyses are really never done in the Congress,” Yarmuth said.
He added including committee analysis, aside of the Congressional Budget Office, to take things into account that the CBO may not.
Energy and Commerce — Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey
This is one of the most powerful committees in the House with oversight of things like telecommunications and environmental quality.
But, for Pallone the biggest priority is the Affordable Care Act.
Despite Republicans unable to roll back the ACA, they were able to eliminate the mandate requiring individuals to have some form of health care or face a tax penalty. Additionally, the Trump Administration has joined a lawsuit in Texas challenging the ACA prohibition of insurance companies charging more for those with pre-existing conditions, according to The Hill.
Pallone said he was in favor of rolling back a decision to increase Medicare drug benefits increasing in cost to high-cost patients in 2020.
Homeland Security — Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi
Thompson vows stronger oversight into things like election meddling, responses to natural disasters like Hurricane Maria and even screening techniques used by the Transportation Security Administration, according to The Hill report.
Another hot item for the committee is the oversight of a border wall between the United States and Mexico — a campaign promise levied by Trump during the 2016 presidential elections.
“We need to really conduct detailed hearings to see how irrational a wall is in this day and time, given where we are as a country technologically,” Thompson said. “We haven’t addressed it.”
Intelligence — Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California
As the probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election continues, the House Intelligence Committee will continue to be at the forefront, according to The Hill.
Schiff has said, if he takes over the committee, the panel’s investigation will continue — despite Republican’s suggesting it has ended.
“It is ongoing, and it will continue if we are in the majority with power of subpoena,” Schiff told The Hill last month.
He said an extended look into financial ties between Russia and Trump’s extensive business dealings may also be in order.
Ways and Means — Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts
Despite passing a tax reform package last year, Neal said he would be very open to bringing the legislation back to committee for further investigation.
He said it wasn’t because of a general opposition to the package but more to look at individual changes like increased benefits for corporations and businesses and shifting those benefits back to middle-class workers. Reinstalling the state and local tax deduction, SALT, would also be on the committee’s list.
Matthew Clark is the Executive Editor of The Daily Lead.