New Congress seated: Democratic members sworn in, Pelosi to be elected speaker — live updates

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

CBSN

The 116th Congress will be seated Thursday, with Democrats taking the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives after eight years out of power. The first order of business is electing Rep. Nancy Pelosi to be House speaker for the second time.

The House is set to convene at noon. After Pelosi is confirmed, the new members will be sworn in. Members will then vote on a new rules package to govern conduct in the House during the 116th Congress. Once the ceremonial parts of the day are completed, the session may get more contentious.

Pelosi has announced plans to pass a spending bill immediately she takes the gavel on Thursday in order to end the government shutdown. However, the bill does not include funding for a border wall, so President Trump has said that he will not sign it. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate will not vote on a bill which would not receive the president's approval.

Live updates of the new Congress follow below

Watch new congress swearing-in

The new members of Congress will be sworn in today as the 116th Congress starts its session. CBSN will have live coverage of all the proceedings from the U.S. Capitol building.

Congress swearing-in live stream info

Who are the new committee chairs?

Reporting by Caitlin Huey-Burns

When Democrats officially take control, a group of President Trump's top critics will have new powers.

Until now, the highest ranking Democratic lawmakers on key committees have had limited reach, essentially relegated to voicing their concerns through cable news programs and social media. Now, the change in power, issuing from November's midterm elections, not only gives them a megaphone but also real legislative tools, like the power to issue subpoenas, to hold the president to account on everything from his tax returns and business dealings to the Russia investigation to administration scandals and his immigration policies.

Here are five members to watch in the New Congress and what they hope to achieve:

New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee

Nadler says he's prioritizing oversight. His committee has already called upon acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker because Democrats are concerned about the nature of his appointment and its relation to the Russia investigation. Nadler said that Whitaker has agreed to testify, but hasn't committed to a date. He says he'll issue a subpoena if necessary. The incoming committee chairman is also determined to protect the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller.

"For the last two years, the president has had no oversight, no accountability from Congress. The Republican Congress was completely derelict in its responsibility to provide oversight," Nadler told "CBS This Morning." "We're going to provide that oversight. We're going to use the subpoena power if we have to."

Rep. Nadler: Trump shutdown is "blackmail of the American people"

California Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee

When he takes the reins of the committee, Schiff has said he will focus the panel's efforts around protecting the Mueller investigation and re-engaging it in the overall probe. Schiff has also expressed interest in calling back witnesses related to the Russia investigation who have already testified. "We believe other witnesses were untruthful before our committee," Schiff said in November, after Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.

Schiff has identified two key areas of interest when it comes to the Russian investigation and possible collusion between Trump associates: The details of the infamous Trump Tower 2016 meeting, which could involve issuing subpoenas for phone records, and whether Russians laundered money through the Trump organization.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee

If Democrats have been craving oversight of the president, they will certainly be watching Cummings, as the chair of the committee with oversight in its name. Cummings has said he would use his power to make Mueller's findings public. "What the public has said is they want accountability and transparency," Cummings told CBS' "Face the Nation." "I would do anything and everything in my power to have the findings presented not only to the Congress but to the people of the United States." Cummings has also said he would like Cohen to come before the committee. "The public needs to know exactly what happened," he told CNN's "State of the Union." "There's a lot to look at."

California Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee

Waters has become a hero of the the anti-Trump resistance–and a top target of the president's attacks. Now, she will become the first woman and first African-American chair of the Financial Services Committee, and she has her eye on the banks that lent Mr. Trump money.

As ranking member of the committee, Waters has been focused on Deutsche Bank, which lended Trump money after bankruptcies, and was also hit with a large fine for a $10 billion Russian money laundering scheme.

Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee

Unlike recent predecessors, the president has refused to release his tax returns. That could change once Neal takes the helm of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. "Yes, I think we will," Neal told the Associated Press whether he would request the president's taxes. "I hope that the president would do this on his own, largely because every president since Gerald R. Ford has voluntarily done this."

Mr. Trump has repeatedly declined to make his returns public, protesting that he is under audit. If he doesn't comply with Neal's request, the tax code provision allows the chairman to request the taxpayer's information from the Internal Revenue Service and the treasury secretary would have to produce it.

New Democrats to be sworn in

The new Democratic caucus is extremely diverse compared to previous ones, with over 100 women taking office. Members-elect Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim women sent to Congress, and Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids are the first Native American women elected to Congress. Ayanna Pressley is Massachusetts' first black member of Congress, and Abby Finkenauer is the first woman sent to Congress from Iowa. Of the 31 new Republicans, all of them are white, and only one is a woman.

The House speaker traditionally administers the oath of office. Members may choose to hold a religious text while doing so.

Midterm elections result in most diverse Congress ever

House to vote on government funding bill

The most critical item on the agenda on Thursday is passing a bill to fund the government. A partial shutdown has been in effect since Dec. 21, affecting hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers. Congress failed to pass a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security and several other agencies in December, as President Trump is refusing to sign any measure which does not include sufficient funding for a border wall.

Mr. Trump and congressional leaders met Wednesday afternoon in the Situation Room to discuss a possible deal over wall funding. The Situation Room, intended for highly classified material, is by nature closed to the press, meaning there will be no televised theatrics like the infamous meeting in December when Mr. Trump told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi he would be "proud" to shut down the government over border security.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled a package of bills to reopen the government Monday, including one bill to temporarily fund the DHS, with $1.3 billion for border security, through Feb. 8.

It will also include six other bipartisan bills to fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others closed by the partial shutdown through the remainder of the fiscal year, to Sept. 30.

However, as the package does not include the $5 billion Mr. Trump wants for the wall on the southern border, he is unlikely to support it. McConnell spokesman Donald Stewart made it clear Senate Republicans will not take action without Mr. Trump's backing. "It's simple: The Senate is not going to send something to the president that he won't sign," he said Monday.

The package includes one bill to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security, with $1.3 billion for border security, through Feb. 8.

House votes on Democrats' rules package

One of the first hurdles for the newly-sworn in House members is approving a rules package to govern conduct in the upcoming Congress.

Some notable provisions include reviving the "Gephardt rule," named for former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, which automatically raises the debt ceiling when the House passes a budget. Members would be required to have additional ethics training, and would be prohibited from serving on corporate boards. One provision would also amend the rule against wearing hats on the House floor to have religious exceptions, so that incoming Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, may wear her headscarf.

Another notable provision would change the process to "vacate the chair," a process to force out the speaker. Instead of only one member being able to trigger the process, the new rule would require motion to vacate to only be offered on the House floor if a majority of either party conference agrees to do so.

However, some progressive Democrats have announced that they will vote against the rules package, which was rolled out Tuesday evening. Although the package includes bills which would create a committee on climate change and implement ethics reforms, some representatives are basing their opposition on the inclusion of the "pay as you go" rule.

The "pay as you go" rule, commonly known as PAYGO, requires that any increase in entitlement spending be offset by cuts in other entitlement programs, or by new revenue raisers, in order to prevent the deficit from increasing. The deficit jumped by 17 percent in 2018, after the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul passed in 2017. While managing a yawning deficit may be a priority for presumed incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi, it angers progressives who oppose cutting some entitlement spending in order to increase funding for other programs.

Nancy Pelosi to be elected speaker

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to be elected House speaker when the session is gaveled in on Thursday. Pelosi has been praised by Democrats recently for standing up to President Trump amid a shutdown fight.

In her speech after accepting the gavel, Pelosi is expected to discuss Democratic priorities, including income inequality and climate change.

"When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class. Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American Dream for every family, advancing progress for every community," Pelosi says in an excerpt of the speech provided for reporters.

In November, there was an effort by opponents to then-Minority Leader Pelosi to replace her as the longtime leader of House Democrats and presumptive speaker. The drive was led by Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Kathleen Rice, D-New York, but ultimately no candidate stepped up to challenge Pelosi.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, briefly mulled a bid for speaker, but announced her support for Pelosi after she was promised a plum position as chair of the Elections Subcommittee of the Committee on House Administration. Without a clear challenger, and with only 16 Democrats signing a letter pledging to vote against her, the opposition to Pelosi dissipated.

A few members who flipped Republican districts are still expected to oppose Pelosi as speaker, such as New York Rep. Max Rose and Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, following up on campaign promises to oppose her speakership. However, they may vote "present" instead of directly voting against her.

First published on January 3, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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