Democrats have taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives. They now need to find the right balance of passing progressive legislation and keeping the executive branch in check.
Since the 2016 elections, Republicans have controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency.
The GOP needed minimal to no Democratic support to push its agenda through Congress, but they still did not have much success with legislating. The only significant legislation passed was a highly unpopular tax reform bill.
Now, Democrats have a chance to show Americans what they have to offer.
Progressive legislation is very unlikely to pass the Senate and be signed by the president, but each bill would be a way to put congressional Republicans and President Trump on record with a vote.
On Tuesday, House Democrats announced that their first bill will center on voting rights.
In the bill, Democrats are proposing automatic voter registration, restoration of the Voting Rights Act, an end to gerrymandering and a reversal of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
This is the perfect first bill for Democrats. Voting rights should not be a controversial issue.
Introducing and passing such legislation would be a symbol that the Democratic Party truly cares about voting rights and free and fair elections.
If it does not pass the Senate, Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell will be hinting that they do not support free and fair elections.
In addition to controlling legislation, the Democrats will also chair every committee and have the power to conduct investigations.
Within days of seating the next Congress, House Democrats are almost certain to begin investigations into Trump and his administration.
Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who has been demeaned and bullied by Trump, is poised to be the next chair of the House Committee on Financial Services.
Waters will have the power to subpoena Trump’s tax returns, which the president has hidden from the public after he was asked about them during campaign season.
While these steps will be labeled partisan, one must remember that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives for eight years and held long, expensive and partisan investigations into incidents like Benghazi.
House Republicans refused to run a real investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, but Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff of California, will be able to subpoena documents and key witnesses.
This leads to the elephant in the room — impeachment.
Democrats should not rush to this because it would undermine the severity of such a charge.
The party should let Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressmen like Schiff conduct their investigations, and if there is proof of high crimes and misdemeanors, then articles of impeachment can be brought.
Otherwise, Democrats should focus on legislation like voting rights that benefits all Americans and prepares the party for 2020.