WASHINGTON – Congress convened Sunday for the beginning of a brand new session, swearing in lawmakers throughout a tumultuous interval as a rising variety of Republicans work to overturn Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump and the coronavirus surges.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi was reelected as Home speaker by her get together, which retains the bulk within the Home however with the slimmest margin in 20 years after a November election wipeout.
Opening the Senate might be amongst Mitch McConnell’s closing acts as majority chief. Republican management is in query till Tuesday’s runoff elections for 2 Senate seats in Georgia. The result will decide which get together holds the chamber.
The Home and Senate had been required to convene Sunday, by regulation, and imposed strict COVID protocols for what’s sometimes a celebratory day. Elbow bumps changed handshakes as senators took the oath of workplace. Fewer relations than ordinary joined lawmakers on the Capitol. A particular enclosed seating part was designed for lawmakers in COVID quarantine.
“To say the brand new Congress convenes at a difficult time can be an understatement,” McConnell mentioned because the chamber opened.
Nonetheless, McConnell mentioned with the beginning of a brand new yr there are causes for optimism, “let’s make the American folks proud.”
Pelosi mentioned the highest precedence is defeating the coronvirus. And “defeat it we’ll,” she mentioned to applause.
It’s typically mentioned that divided authorities generally is a time for legislative compromises, however lawmakers are charging into the 117th Congress with the nation extra torn than ever, disputing even primary info together with that Biden received the presidential election.
Fraud didn’t spoil the 2020 presidential election, a truth confirmed by election officers throughout the nation. Earlier than stepping down final month, Legal professional Basic William Barr, a Republican appointed by Trump, mentioned there was no proof of fraud that affected the election’s end result. Arizona’s and Georgia’s Republican governors, whose states had been essential to Biden’s victory, have additionally acknowledged that their election outcomes had been correct.
However, a dozen Republicans sure for the brand new Senate, led by Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, and much more within the Home have pledged to turn out to be a resistance pressure to Biden’s White Home, beginning with efforts to subvert the desire of American voters. These GOP lawmakers plan to object to the election outcomes when Congress meets on Wednesday to tally his 306-232 Electoral Faculty victory over Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence, who as president of the Senate, presides over the session and declares the winner, is dealing with rising stress from Trump’s allies over that ceremonial position.
Pence’s chief of workers, Marc Quick, mentioned in an announcement Saturday that Pence “welcomes the efforts of members of the Home and Senate to make use of the authority they’ve beneath the regulation to lift objections.”
Democrats, in the meantime, are pushing forward, desperate to associate with Biden on shared priorities, beginning with efforts to stem the pandemic and financial disaster. They plan to revisit the failed effort to spice up pandemic support to $2,000 for most individuals.
“This has been a second of nice problem in the US of America stuffed with trials and tribulations, however assistance is on the best way,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Home Democratic caucus, mentioned in an interview.
“America is a resilient nation, stuffed with resilient folks,” he mentioned. “We are going to proceed to rise to the event, emerge from this pandemic and proceed to march towards our extra excellent union.”
Among the many Home Republican newcomers are Trump-aligned Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has given nod to conspiracy Q-Anon theories, and gun rights advocate Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who circulated a letter of help to retain the appropriate of lawmakers to hold firearms within the Capitol.
Greene was amongst a bunch of Home Republicans led by Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama who visited with Trump on the White Home throughout the vacation season about their effort to undo the election.
The “Jan. 6 problem is on,” Taylor Greene mentioned in a tweet pinned to the highest of her social media account. Boebert additionally tweeted help for these difficult Biden’s victory.
Home Republicans boosted their ranks within the November election, electing a handful of ladies and minorities, greater than ever. A number of the new GOP lawmakers are being referred to as the “Freedom Drive,” and a counter to the “squad” — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and different liberal Democratic girls who swept to workplace within the final session.
In an announcement Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the minority chief, mentioned the brand new Republican members “are a robust illustration of who America is and the place we come from.”
Progressive Democrats bolstered their ranks with newcomers aligned with extra liberal priorities.
The Capitol itself is a modified place beneath coronavirus restrictions. Lawmakers are arriving in Washington from all components of the nation probably uncovered to the virus throughout their journey.
A number of lawmakers have been sickened by the virus and a few will probably be absent Sunday. Additionally, a memorial was held Saturday for newly elected Republican lawmaker Luke Letlow, 41, of Louisiana, who died of issues from COVID-19 days earlier than the swearing in.
The Workplace of the Attending Doctor has issued a number of prolonged memos warning lawmakers off assembly in teams or holding conventional receptions to stop the unfold of the virus. Masks have been ordered worn always and Pelosi has required them for use within the Home chamber. Members are required to have coronavirus checks and have entry to vaccines.
“Don’t have interaction any in-person social occasions, receptions, celebrations, or appointments, outdoors your loved ones unit, and all the time put on a face overlaying outdoors your own home,” the doctor’s workplace warned in a single memo. “You need to strictly keep away from any sort of office-based reception or celebration throughout the days forward.”
Even the normal swearing in ceremonies will probably be restricted within the Home. No extra huge household portraits with new lawmakers taking the oath of workplace. As an alternative, every representative-elect can carry one visitor in keeping with social distancing protocols.
The vp sometimes swears within the senators and Pence elbow-bumped senators as he did.
Pelosi, who’s returning as speaker, the primary lady to carry the job, confronted a good race, with the Home cut up 222-211, with one race nonetheless undecided and one emptiness after Letlow’s dying.
The California Democrat may endure some defections from her ranks, however only some, barring absences. She received a majority of these current and voting to retain the speaker’s gavel.
Related Press writers Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
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