Buoyant U.S. House Democrats back Nancy Pelosi again, pass spending bills
The federal government is approaching week two of a partial shutdown, but among House Democrats, the mood was joyous Thursday even as the chamber they now control approved two spending bills to reopen the government that have no chance of becoming law.
Despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the spending legislation a “total nonstarter” and President Donald Trump vowing to veto it, the House approved two bills: One would fund nine federal agencies through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, and another would fund the Department of Homeland Security, which includes border control, through Feb. 8, but it does not include money for Trump’s coveted wall along the border with Mexico.
The partial government shutdown was spurred by a disagreement between Trump and Democrats over the $5.7 billion Trump has requested for the border wall.
The vote to pay for the Department of Homeland Security was 239-192, and the vote to reopen the nine shuttered federal agencies through Sept. 30 was 241-190.
Thursday night’s voting following the House’s election of Nancy Pelosi to a second stint as speaker, with all four of the Ohio delegation’s Democrats backing her.
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, was particularly buoyant: “I proudly cast my vote for Nancy Pelosi,” she said loudly to laughter and some cheers in the chamber.
The 12 Republicans in the Ohio delegation, meanwhile, unanimously backed Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for speaker.
Pelosi received 219 votes to McCarthy’s 192. Eighteen lawmakers voted for other candidates including Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, who received five votes, and Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, who received one vote. Three lawmakers voted “present.”
In the Senate, meanwhile, Sen. Sherrod Brown was among those taking the oath of office. The Ohio Democrat is beginning his third term. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was re-elected in 2016.
The day marked the beginning of an era of divided government; Republicans had held control of both the House, the Senate and the White House since Trump entered the White House in January 2017.
Reflecting the new state of play, Beatty was on the dais to moderate while the House voted on the spending bills: Pelosi had selected her to serve as speaker pro-tempore during the Democratic vote to open the government. Beatty will also be vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and is hoping to be selected for a subcommittee chairmanship in the House Financial Services Committee.
Beatty said she wasn’t sure that the Democrats’ spending bills would, in fact, stall. “I think it’s too early to tell what the Senate will really do,” Beatty said.
“No matter what the Senate says, today I think we have an obligation to still move full throttle ahead,” she said.
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, voted against both spending measures. Earlier Thursday, he said he was concerned about some of their provisions, but the $5.7 billion for a border wall was not particularly a hang-up for him.
“I want get some funding for the wall,” he said. “I’m not stuck on a particular number.”
In a statement after the vote, he said that although he wants to keep the government open, “this proposal did not represent a good faith effort to bring about a solution.” He called it a “show vote.”
For Stivers, Thursday marked a first: In eight years in the House and six in Ohio’s state Senate, he’d never spent a day in the minority.
“I don’t know that I will be excited about being in the minority,” he said. “I’m from the governing wing of the Republican Party so I typically like to get thing done, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to work together and get things done.”
For others, the day was one of firsts and of celebrations. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, the Ohio delegation’s newest member, hosted an open house in his new Capitol Hill office Thursday morning, greeting everyone from family members to House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. The Rocky River Republican acknowledged he was exhausted; he and his wife had been up from midnight to 6 a.m. with a sick 8-month-old. By Thursday afternoon, the baby was on the mend; Gonzalez was seen bringing him onto the House floor.
Bill Overton, a military veteran from Strongsville who campaigned for Gonzalez, said, “I believe in him. I think he’s an honest man.”