Today on the Hill: Historic 116th Congress Set to Get Under Way

New lawmakers will be sworn in today at noon, marking the start of the 116th Congress. Democrats are set to regain control of the House after winning 40 seats in the 2018 midterm elections, while Republicans will enjoy a boosted 53-47 majority in the Senate after knocking off vulnerable Democratic incumbents in Florida, North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri. The 116th Congress will make history for seating a record number of women, as well as welcoming the most racially and ethnically diverse group of lawmakers in Congressional history. A full list of new members can be accessed here

Despite some early intraparty opposition, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to claim the speaker's gavel for the second time. Democrats are set to regain committee subpoena power for the first time during the Trump administration, and have promised that investigations and oversight will occupy a substantial portion of key committee bandwidth. Leader Pelosi will also look to shepherd key Democratic policy priorities — such as lower health care costs, campaign finance reform, gun safety legislation, and a solution for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — through the lower chamber.

Meanwhile, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will retain his post in the Senate following a strong election cycle for Senate Republicans. While Leader McConnell has previously identified entitlement reform and Affordable Care Act (ACA) rollback as legislative goals, the divided Congress complicates the path forward for major policy priorities on both sides of the aisle. The Senate is likely to continue focusing on confirming executive and judicial nominees.

On the floor, House Democrats have queued up their first votes on two separate bills that would resolve the government shutdown. The first bill (H.R. 21) would extend funding for several departments that have been closed since December 22, 2018 through September 30, 2019, while the second (H.J.Res.1) would extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security for one month through February 8. However, both bills are unlikely to move in the Senate given President Trump's opposition to the plan.