Thursday, the new 110th Congress will be sworn in. Led by Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker in history, Democrats are poised to tackle a number of issues in the first 100 hours directly impacting the American people.
This week, in the first hours of the 100 hour plan, we will focus on ethics reform to restore integrity to Congress. As part of the package, lobbyists will be banned from giving gifts or paying for travel junkets for members and their staff. Pay-to-play schemes like the “K Street Project” established by former-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, which forced lobbying firms to make hiring decisions based on partisanship, will be outlawed. And the practice of holding votes open for hours on end until enough arms are twisted to pass a bill will be banned.
In addition to the ethics reform package, new budget rules that will help return fiscal order to the budget process will be established. Known as “pay-go” rules, no additional expenditures will be allowed outside of what is budgeted each year unless an offsetting cut or increase in revenue is made. We will also pass earmark reform that will bring transparency to the appropriations process. Earmarks for social service programs and public works projects, which I fight to bring Northern Virginia each year through my position on the Appropriations Committee, will now have to be identified in the legislation as to which member requested the funding.
Earlier in the week, I appeared on Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show to discuss these first 100 hours and what Democrats plan to do with the new majority. (As a side note, while I disagree with him ideologically, personally, I like Tucker). As Tucker is wont to do, he was on one of his usual rants, impugning anything and everything related to Democrats.
His main target this particular day was our new Speaker Nancy Pelosi. After attempting to dress the Speaker down for celebrating her new position, Tucker asked why anyone should care that we elected the first woman Speaker. In what I thought was an important exchange, I reminded Tucker that not too long ago, woman couldn’t even vote and now there is a woman 3rd in line for the presidency. Further, I expressed my view that Speaker Pelosi will serve as an inspiration for millions of women, both young and old. To me, the election of Nancy Pelosi to Speaker means that the doors blocking women from politics — while already open — have been blown off their hinges for good. That will have lasting implications, not only in politics, but in many other sectors of our society. And that is a progressive victory.