By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A brand new U.S. Congress convened on Sunday in an environment of political uncertainty, with Senate management undecided, a smaller Democratic majority within the Home of Representatives and a Republican struggle looming over presidential election outcomes.
The Home started voting on the re-election of California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as speaker, a prospect made tougher after Democrats misplaced 11 seats within the November elections to command a narrower 222-212 majority. The vote was anticipated to take hours on account of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Senate stays Republican run forward of dual elections in Georgia on Tuesday, giving its members a platform to once more air President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that his loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was the results of fraud.
A number of state and federal critiques have discovered no proof of the kind of widespread fraud Trump claims, however Republican senators and Home members plan to problem the election end result when Congress certifies it on Wednesday.
A Republican push led by Senator Ted Cruz for an emergency 10-day audit of election ends in contested battleground states drew criticism on Sunday from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (NYSE:), a staunch Trump ally.
“It seems to be extra of a political dodge than an efficient treatment,” Graham stated in an announcement. “I’ll pay attention intently. However they’ve a excessive bar to clear.”
The narrower stability of energy in each chambers this 12 months may additionally encourage moderates from every social gathering to flex their political muscle mass, particularly after Trump leaves the White Home on Jan. 20 and Biden, who ran as a centrist, takes workplace.
However leaders in each the Home and Senate tried to sound optimistic regardless of mounting challenges.
“From political division to a lethal pandemic to adversaries around the globe, the hurdles earlier than us are many and they’re severe,” Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell stated on the Senate flooring.
“However there’s additionally loads of purpose for hope,” the Kentucky Republican added, citing the continuing rollout of coronavirus vaccine. “I’d say 2021 appears to be like brilliant already.”
Home Majority Chief Steny Hoyer, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, additionally stated in an announcement that he hoped the brand new Congress would “flip the web page” on partisan division “and start a brand new chapter of cooperation amongst Democrats and Republicans.”
A smaller Democratic majority and the still-raging coronavirus pandemic may make re-election as speaker trickier for Pelosi, the one girl ever to carry job. However Pelosi and her lieutenants say they’re assured she’s going to succeed.
The smaller caucus means much less room for dissident Democrats to vote towards Pelosi with out risking the likelihood that Republican chief Kevin McCarthy wins the speakership as an alternative.
Democratic Consultant Elissa Slotkin of Michigan stated she would vote “current” moderately than help Pelosi. “It isn’t private. It isn’t malicious. It simply represents a sense in my district,” she instructed reporters. “We’d like a special crop (of leaders) that represents a broader swath of the nation.”
Ten of 15 Democrats who opposed Pelosi’s bid for speaker two years in the past are returning, and a few newly elected progressives, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush, lately declined to say whether or not they again her.
“I believe she’ll have the votes,” Hoyer instructed reporters final week. “We did not … work as onerous as we labored to keep up the bulk so we may set coverage, to present that up.”
Home leaders introduced social distancing pointers that restricted flooring entry to not more than 72 lawmakers at a time, forcing lawmakers to vote in teams.
Within the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence swore in 32 senators on Sunday, administering the oath of workplace in pairs on account of COVID-19 restrictions.
A Republican win of 1 or each Georgia Senate seats up for election on Tuesday would cement the Republican majority led by Mitch McConnell.
Twin Democratic wins in Georgia would produce a 50-50 Senate, the place Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would maintain the tie-breaking as soon as she is sworn in on Jan. 20.