House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that while Democratic-passed legislation is stacking up in the Senate, she is “optimistic and hopeful” the bills will gain momentum behind “public sentiment.” If not, she thinks Republicans will suffer the consequences in the 2020 elections.
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“Public sentiment will weigh in,” she said. “They will either act upon the legislation or be accountable to the public for why they did not.”
Pelosi said she is “very proud” of the Democratic accomplishments through the first 100 days of the House majority, and vowed that her party will plow forward on its agenda despite intransigence from the GOP.
“We are not going as slow as the slowest ship. If what you're suggesting is we sit back and say, ‘Well the Senate, they'll never do anything no matter what the public thinks then why should we do anything?’ You have mistaken us for somebody else. Please don’t do that.”
Pelosi said the prospects for bipartisanship over the next hundred days is “good” – beginning with the House’s efforts to pass all 12 appropriations bills. She also extended the list of potential issues Democrats could join Republicans to enact.
“I do think that there's plenty room for bipartisanship, as I have said before and I'll say again: The president has said over and over again he wants to do an infrastructure bill. So do we,” she said.
“We're making progress as to what the parameters of that would be time-wise and financially. The president has said he wants to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Now we're talking about two of our top priorities, lower the cost of prescription drug, build the infrastructure of America to build paychecks, bigger paychecks for our country,” Pelosi continued. “The American people are paying attention. The American people spoke at the polls. The American people will weigh in on these issues.”
Pelosi briefly condemned the White House amid reports Trump had contemplated relocating undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities, including to her San Francisco district.
“It's just another notion that is unworthy of the presidency of the United States and disrespectful to the challenges that we face as a country as a people to address who we are as a nation of immigrants,” Pelosi said.
Earlier, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Democrats “have really focused on the issues that were critical to the American people,” celebrating the passage of several cornerstones of the party’s agenda, including ethics reform, legislation to enhance background checks and paycheck fairness.
“I don't think I'm blowing smoke,” Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters at a pen and pad briefing Friday morning. “I really do think it's been a productive, unified first hundred days. And I think we’ve set the stage for a second hundred days that's going to be equally productive.”
Hoyer, whose responsibilities include scheduling all legislative floor activity in the lower chamber, laid out a series of Democratic bills he hopes to pass through the House before Independence Day, including H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, H.R. 5, the Equality Act, H.R. 6, the American Dream & Promise Act, and all 12 appropriations bills in June.
But with only 12 bills signed into law by the president from the 116th Congress – including just six enacted bills that originated in the House of Representatives – coupled with a record-breaking 35-day government shutdown – divided Congress presents the stark reality that the fleeting chance for bipartisanship after the midterm election was largely missed.
Among the 12 enacted bills from the first 100 days of the new majority, legislation to reopen government arguably carried the most significance. The rest generated little controversy, including a bill to authorize the honorary appointment of Sen. Bob Dole to the grade of colonel in the Army, a bill to designate a Veterans Affairs outstation in North Ogden, Utah, for Maj. Brent Taylor, and another measure to clarify the grade and pay of podiatrists of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Hoyer pointed the finger at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has collected more than 170 measures that passed the House but have not cleared the Senate. “The fact that the bills, you know, haven't been passed through the Senate in the first hundred days, I think gives testimony to the fact we have a divided Congress,” Hoyer said. “We have a Democratic House and Republican [Senate], and as a result McConnell has not indicated a willingness to move forward again on pieces of legislation the overwhelming majority of the American people support.”
While Democrats pledge to continue moving through their agenda, 19 declared Democratic presidential candidates are already jousting for the opportunity to challenge President Trump in 2020 – limiting the prospects for bipartisanship as lawmakers retreat to their political corners.