Nancy Pelosi elected House speaker, reclaims gavel to lead Democrats’ new majority

Pelosi pledged the new Congress will be 'transparent bipartisan and unifying.'

Pelosi pledged the new Congress will be 'transparent bipartisan and unifying.'

Hours after Democrats took control of the U.S. House on Thursday, representatives approved spending bills to reopen the partially closed federal government - legislation that is considered dead on arrival in the Senate because it doesn't include border wall funds.

"Did they not hear about the coequal branch of government, and that we the Congress send the president legislation and he can choose to sign or not?" Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, "It's very hard to see how progress will be made unless they open up the government".

About 800,000 federal workers have been affected by the December 22 closure of about one-quarter of the federal government as Trump withheld his support for new funding until he secures US$5 billion (RM20.7 billion) to start building the wall along the US-Mexico border that he promised during his campaign.

But Trump and congressional Republicans have rejected both Democratic bills - which contain no money for a border wall, just a continuation of the $1.3 billion authorized for fencing in fiscal 2018 - as show votes, not a serious attempt to reach a solution.

"The partisanship, rancour and dysfunction of the Trump shutdown is exactly what voters rebuked in November", said Rep. -elect Joe Neguse of Colorado, a new leader of the freshmen class, in the Democrats' weekly address. "We are sending them back exactly, word for word, what they have passed", Pelosi said. They filed legislation to go after the president's tax returns and vowed to reopen a Russian Federation probe House Republicans closed previous year. We can not undo the trauma that he is causing to our people, and this nation.

Democrats said they would visit the White House on Friday to try to break the impasse, but lawmakers have warned the shutdown could extend for several more days, even weeks.

Democrats are eager to move forward in the House on multiple fronts.

As speaker, Pelosi now is situated to lead Democratic opposition to Trump's agenda and carry out investigations of his administration following two years during which congressional Republicans largely acquiesced to the president. It bans lawmakers from serving on corporate boards.

Congress overturned a two century-long ban on hats so that Minnesota's Ilhan Omar could wear her hijab on the House floor.

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The package will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is expected to be blocked.

Former House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan may have been in charge, but regular fracturing prevented the ruling party from getting the 218 votes it needed to pass, say, a farm bill, raise the debt limit or fund the Department of Homeland Security. It will begin making its way through the newly bolstered committee process.

Seeking to ease concerns, the White House sought to frame the weekend talks as a step forward, as did McConnell, who described plans for a "working group", though people familiar with the meeting said that phrase never actually came up.

Trump said via Twitter on Thursday that he was willing to cooperate with the Democratic Party on a funding bill that would be beneficial for the United States.

Can Pelosi keep her conference from fracturing the way the Republicans' did after winning a House majority in 2010? She would be the first woman to hold, then return, to the office.

Ocasio-Cortez and others, including Rep. Ro Khanna of California, are opposing the rules package over a budgeting provision that allows objections to legislation that increases the deficit.

Part of the problem in coming to a deal, Democrats say, is that Trump often changes his mind.

Trump was joined by Pence in the Rose Garden, as well as House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise.

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