The incoming House Democratic majority is waiting to name its leaders for 2018 before moving on to party policy priorities, including proposals to raise taxes on the rich and battle climate change.
A reminder: we’re still months away from any decision, and the political timetable for filling the leadership void isn’t always set in stone.
Theoretically, after midterms, if Democrats win back control of the House it would take six months for the party to elect leaders and on to more detailed policy priorities. But a party leader can be ousted if he or she loses a majority of members.
In such a case, Pelosi’s bid for another term as leader of the Democrats in the House (she lost to Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina in a closed-door vote Thursday night) still allows the party to appoint a new leader to replace Pelosi on its temporary leadership team after midterms – presumably giving Pelosi some say in choosing Hoyer or Clyburn as the permanent leaders of the Democrats.
To control the House majority, the Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to win a majority, but they’re at 46% in the Cook Political Report’s midterm assessment. That means the odds of the Democrats picking up that 23 seats aren’t very high.
But Democrats have remained motivated and the environment may be favorable for Democrats to pick up at least a handful of seats. Voting between now and midterms is usually high turnout, and Democrats have pushed for improved turnout this year. With the wave, Democrats will likely only need to pick up 27 seats in the 435-member House.
Democrats will also get a significant boost in the Senate and the state of California can play a key role in that, too. Hoyer has said that he and Clyburn, should they end up succeeding Pelosi, would work to keep his seniority and hold on to his committee spots. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this week that the “next Democrat in line” would head up the powerful committee on tax reform in the US House of Representatives, but it wasn’t clear that was the case with Pelosi.
Besides the tough odds of picking up the 23 seats to retake control of the House, Democrats have big policy demands to enact.
Green New Deal
Such a plan was a central demand of the Democratic presidential candidates, and it was incorporated into the Democratic platform introduced in July this year.
The plan aims to build 100% renewable electricity grids and draw all transportation off fossil fuels by 2030, to build 4.5m zero-emission homes by 2030, and to end the war on solar and wind energy by 2030. It also calls for a $1tn public investment for building “thousands of miles of interconnected high-speed rail, modernizing local and regional airport infrastructure, and dramatically increasing investment in new commercial freight systems”.
It also calls for removing fossil fuel subsidies for both public and private companies, tax reform for the middle class, and a raise of the federal minimum wage.
The Green New Deal has been met with criticism from some Republicans as a socialist plan, but others have pointed out that green energy typically has been more profitable for those on the upper and middle class levels of society.
Another big policy demand from Democrats is increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The proposal was included in the economic recovery plan called “A Better Deal” presented by President Barack Obama in his second term.
Democrats have pushed for a federal pre-kindergarten program, as well as making college more affordable. All of these policy priorities are critical in that they support the kind of education reforms Democrats support – reforms that don’t directly fund university tuition increases.
The former president Barack Obama’s administration has shown a hands-off approach to marijuana, with Obama himself calling for increased federal spending on drug enforcement, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for a rollback in law enforcement resources.
But the incoming Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will likely have the potential to repeal the policies of the Trump administration. If Democrats take control of the House, they would have the ability to craft national laws on marijuana, but only if the Trump administration reverses or weakens existing state laws.
To start, the state of California may pass a law that would make it the first US state to legalize recreational marijuana. California is currently a Democratic state that Trump won.