Freshmen House Dems prefer bills over investigations
By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Forty-six newly elected House Democrats pressed party leaders Monday to focus next year on legislative priorities like health care and infrastructure over investigations of President Donald Trump and his administration.
"We must heed the call from our constituents," the group wrote in a letter to their leadership.
The letter demonstrates how the huge class of freshman Democrats in the new Congress hopes to use its clout.
They wrote that lawmakers "have a duty" to conduct oversight of the administration, especially if it "crosses legal lines or contravenes American values." But they said "we must prioritize" legislation on issues that also include immigration, guns, environment and a criminal justice overhaul.
The letter does not use the word "impeachment." Democrats have already signaled their desire to energetically investigate the Trump administration next year on a range of fronts. But party leaders have expressed caution over plunging prematurely into impeachment proceedings, to the chagrin of some of their most liberal voters.
The 46 represent about three-fourths of next year's incoming Democratic freshmen. The roughly 60 Democratic freshmen will comprise about one-fourth of all House Democrats in the Congress that convenes Jan. 3.
The letter calls on leaders to hold monthly meetings with freshmen and to appoint them to highly sought committees like Appropriations and Ways and Means. And it requests changes in some congressional procedures, such as prioritizing bills that have at least 290 co-sponsors - which means significant bipartisan support.
It was unclear how leadership's response to the letter might affect the opposition by a small group of Democrats to Rep. Nancy Pelosi's effort to regain her old post as speaker.
Some of the letter signers have said they will oppose Pelosi, including Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Jason Crow of Colorado.
House Democrats have formally nominated Pelosi, D-Calif., to become speaker. She must win a majority of House votes - probably 218 - when the chamber elects its speaker Jan. 3.
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