As the closure continues, the massive class of newcomers from the Democrats leaves its mark

Erica Werner

Congress reporter focused on economic policy.

The new first-year students of the Democratic House who won with the promise to change Washington came to find him more stuck than ever. Now they are training their energy in the nation's longest-running closure, which brings new kinds of political disruption to the Capitol even when they discover the narrow limits of their power.

During the two days of last week, a group of these Democrats crossed the Capitol trying to meet with the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), To urge him to submit spending bills to reopen the government . On Wednesday, with the closing on its twenty-sixth day, they entered the Senate chamber, a place where many veteran members of the House of Representatives never stood up, en mbade to personally deliver a letter to McConnell in the Republican cloakroom.

His search never resulted in a face-to-face meeting with the majority leader in the Senate and did not move him from his opposition to raising the bills approved by Congress that President Trump opposes, but they argue that his tactics attracted more attention to what they call the GOP's intransigence at closure.

At the same time, several of his first-year colleagues attended a face-to-face meeting with Trump to ask him to reopen the government, while other first-year lawmakers started informal conversations across the aisle to try to find a way out of the dead end. .

Taken together, the movements served to note that the newly elected legislators who helped the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives will maintain their momentum for change at the Capitol, as they did throughout their campaigns to create history. The clbad of more than 60 freshmen, including a record number of millennials, women and minorities, is receiving attention and making waves, even if it remains to be seen if lawmakers can deliver results.

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"I do not see it as political theater, I think it's political activism, which is something new for Congress and maybe it's stirring things up," said Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), One of the elected lawmakers to lead clbad. "People are very frustrated, we came here to do something, so what you're seeing is that frustration is put into action."

The efforts of the newcomers are not being received uniformly. The minority leader of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Stepped aside when asked if the first-year Democrats brought a positive voice to Congress, saying he knew little about them beyond a viral comment that makes reference to Trump, made by the representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who were going to "impugn the mother —–".

"It could be unfair of me because I only heard the voice of the lady from Michigan using the MF and other things, so I do not want to be unfair," McCarthy said in a brief interview. "Let me know who they are first."

This first-year Democratic clbad is the largest since the election following the resignation of Richard Nixon. The Democrats at the 116th Congress include open liberals like Tlaib and the most well-known member of the group, representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Who at 29 is the youngest woman elected to Congress. But there are also numerous legislators with more centrist leanings that eliminated the GOP incumbents, in many cases winning in districts that had voted for Trump.

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While some of his more liberal colleagues marched to McConnell's office, several of these mild-minded first-year students attended a meeting with Trump in the White House as members of the bipartisan Group of Problem Solvers, a group that tries to save the partisan division to obtain solutions.

The first-year Democrats who went to the White House challenged the opposition of some colleagues, who warned that they could end up playing in Trump's hand while trying to project a layer of bipartisanship that did not reflect the reality of the impbade. But these legislators said they represented the voters who sent them to Washington to get results, and appreciated the opportunity to involve the president face to face even when some of their colleagues worked to apply public pressure from abroad.

"If I am given the opportunity to speak directly with the president and express how the closure is hurting the people in my district, I think it would be a neglect of my obligation not to take advantage of that opportunity," one of these legislators, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), A former CIA officer who won in a Trump district, said after the meeting with the president.

"I intend to be a very productive member of this committee and that is exactly what I am doing," said Spanberger.

The disparate first-year approaches to dealing with the closure predict that tensions will come when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Presides over a push and pull of liberals who demand rapid and dramatic moves on issues such as medical attention and salaries, also as an aggressive supervision of the Trump administration, countered by moderates interested in achieving a bipartisan consensus, even if the results are more incremental.

But these freshmen are determined to fulfill the campaign promises that bind them together to demand better lives for working-clbad Americans by increasing access to affordable health services and high-paying jobs. Jury in the first Congress that was convened in the middle of a closure of the government, the members instead found a capital where the dysfunction against which they campaigned is deeper than many of them envisioned and where any other issue is secondary to solve a crisis that they had no role in creating. .

The partial closure of the government that has forced 800,000 federal workers to default since December 22 is affecting many of its constituents and preventing their desire to advance their campaign promises. Impatient, and in some cases nervous and uncertain about how to proceed, many of the freshmen came to the conclusion that they could not wait to see if Trump, Pelosi, McConnell and other leaders could get out of the impbade.

Instead, they have acted, including with impromptu visits to McConnell offices led by Neguse, Representative Katie Hill (D-California), Ocasio-Cortez and others, which have been widely disseminated on social media, increasing the focus on the closure among grbadroots activists who sent these legislators to Congress.

"I think one thing that many of the members, especially members like the McConnell Majority Leader, are not prepared for is the fact that 70 percent of our clbad is not professional politicians, we are activists. We are small business owners, nurses, teachers, "said Ocasio-Cortez as she, Hill and others stayed out of one of McConnell's offices this week." And we're not going to operate in Washington as they have. they".

Freshmen efforts have generally been encouraged by Pelosi and his leadership team, who recognize them as a powerful force with the ability to reach younger, disinterested voters in the inner games of more established politicians. The House was supposed to be in recess next week, which would have given the newcomers the first extended opportunity to return to their districts and interact with their constituents at municipal meetings and other events. Instead, the House will be in session to vote on more bills to reopen the government. The Democratic leadership distributed talking points that emphasize that the party supports border security even when it opposes the Trump Wall, but Representative Ben Ray Luján (DNM), House of Representatives Democrat No. 4, who presided over the committee. House of Representatives Democrat Campaign During Partial Exams, Freshmen know best how to talk to their voters.

"I have faith in our new members, in that they have many talents, and what we have to do is embrace them and untie them," Luján said in an interview. "The new members have been driving a conversation across the United States, whether on social media or traditional media, which has already changed the conversation, you've seen the public sentiment that the government is about to open grow."

In some respects, today's freshman clbad is similar to the Tea Party Republicans who shifted control of the House of Representatives to the Republican Party in 2010 and came to Congress in a largely ungovernable majority who did not want to hold back and wait its turn to be heard. Those Republicans ended up making Congress quite ungovernable because of their tendency to oppose spending and other laws necessary to keep the government functioning. But first-year Democrats generally say they believe in the government's ability to make a positive difference and are unlikely to pose the same threat to governance, especially because the first challenge they face is to reopen the government.

However, some conservative Republicans see an echo of their years of political interruptions and problems in the actions of the Democrats that eliminated them from the majority.

"The good thing about this is that first-year members are committed," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a leader of the House's conservative Freedom Caucus. "And I can certainly applaud it and admire it from someone who believes that I should not have to wait to make an impact in this place."

Some of the freshmen said they enjoy the challenge they face, even though the reopening of the government was not the platform on which they relied, nor what they expected to find as they reached a new era of government divided in the Washington of Trump.

"This is not how I thought it would be my first weeks of Congress. That's fine, because they sent us here for a time like this, and this is the challenge that affects our country right now, "said Representative Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.)" It's very difficult, it's very fun and I do not use that word as fun on a roller coaster, but it's a challenge and it's an honor to be able to do this job. "

Jenna Portnoy contributed to this report.

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