Welcome back to divided government.
The 116th Congress convened Thursday afternoon, ushering in a Democratic majority in the House with newly elected progressive firebrands like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and subpoena-empowered committee chairmen preparing to investigate the Trump administration.
It marks the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency that Republicans do not control both chambers of Congress, though Republicans still control the Senate. That shift in power comes as the White House and Congress have yet to come to a resolution to end the partial government shutdown tied to Trump’s desire for border wall funding.
The first order of business will be electing a speaker of the House, and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi is poised to ultimately win back the gavel despite a rebellion from some Democrats who have called for new leadership. In recent weeks, Pelosi is believed to have secured enough support for a win, though it’s expected some Democrats will still vote for someone else.
The election is held on the House floor, in the form of an oral, alphabetical roll call. Members may vote for anyone, not just those nominated.
After the election Thursday, the new speaker will give a speech and swear in the rest of the House.
The House starts with 434 members. The House has not received a certification for North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, where there are allegations of voter fraud in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.
After members are sworn in, the House will consider two bills to re-open the government. But Republicans in the Senate and the president are not expected to support that effort, considering it doesn’t include new funding for Trump’s proposed border wall.
While their most pressing issue will be trying to find a way out of the partial government shutdown that’s been in effect for nearly two weeks, scrutiny of the Trump administration will be next up on the list of priorities.
Those Democrats armed with subpoena power include Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee; and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
In a press release Wednesday, Cummings said his committee plans to “investigate waste, fraud, and abuse in the Trump Administration,” as well as “other issues that affect the American people every day.”
The looming congressional probes amount to another front in Trump’s ever-expanding battle with institutions ranging from the mainstream media to Mueller’s investigation — all coming as Democrats flirting with a 2020 bid also train their political sights on the administration. Areas of interest probed by these committees could cover everything from Trump’s ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Trump’s past tax returns as a businessman to Trump’s relationship with adult film star Stormy Daniels.
On Thursday, one Democratic congressman said he plans to take advantage of the new majority by introducing articles of impeachment against Trump. Rep. Brad Sherman is reintroducing the impeachment articles that he first filed in 2017 with Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Al Green of Texas, a spokesman said.
Still, Democratic party leaders have not committed to pursuing impeachment.
“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with NBC News’ “Today” on Thursday, referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason. We have to see.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.