by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s January 2019 and President Trump is entering his third year in office. Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House again and one of the first items on the agenda is oversight.
The California Democrat is leading a large House Democratic caucus newly ascendant to the majority after nearly a decade in the wilderness. They want answers. They want to know what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is doing to public schools, they want to know what Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is doing to public lands, they want to know how EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is spending taxpayer dollars. And most of all, they want to see Trump’s tax returns.
That’s just the beginning. Democrats right now are in a strong position to retake the House in November, and if they succeed, the most effective tool they’ll have to provide a check on Trump is oversight. The Senate is unlikely to flip as Democrats are defending 10 senators in states that Trump won in 2016. In a world where the House is under their control but the Senate and White House are not, there are limits to what the left side of the aisle can accomplish.
Democratic leaders Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer have shown that they are willing to strike deals with Trump and that likely won’t change even if Pelosi gets to wield the speaker’s gavel a second time. There will be opportunities to woo the president, who is easily influenced and is willing to talk to anyone who promises legislative wins. With a Democratic House, Trump’s agenda won’t sail through, and could be outright rejected if the president doesn’t bow to negotiations. But Pelosi and Schumer, so far, say they will work with Trump rather than obstruct his every move.