These three new members of Congress, and two returning ones, will push for a progressive legislative agenda while holding Trump and his cronies accountable.
Congress is going to look very different in 2019, starting when Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi regains control of the House of Representatives. While most eyes will be on her, several other members of Congress — both new and returning — will step up and become leaders in their own right. Here are five we are keeping an eye on.
A newly elected congresswoman from Georgia, Lucy McBath ran on a progressive platform centered on tackling the issue of gun safety. Six years ago, McBath lost her son due to gun violence. Using his death as a catalyst to run for office, she ousted an NRA-backed Trump lackey to win her seat, becoming only the third Black woman to represent Georgia in Congress.
Democrats have pledged to fight for better gun safety legislation, and you can bet that McBath will be front and center during those debates, working to ensure no other mothers face the same kind of tragedy she was forced to endure.
A 29-year-old former bartender, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rocked the political world when she defeated Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in a June primary. She then cruised to victory in a safe blue seat and has used her new-found celebrity status to make deep blue waves in D.C.
Her savvy and witty use of social media is a breath of fresh air and authenticity in a town filled with wordy press releases. In addition to hammering conservatives online, Ocasio-Cortez has spent her time building a coalition around a Green New Deal focused on the intersection of the environment and the economy. Already a proven leader, and someone often identified by only her initials, AOC will be a name to watch.
Katie Hill ran as an unabashed millennial in a district just north of Los Angeles, ousting loyal Trump cheerleader Rep. Steve Knight. Hill gained national recognition by allowing HBO's "Vice News" to film her campaign, and quickly became one of the Democrats' top fundraisers of the cycle. In the last quarterly filing of the campaign, Hill — who had never run for public office — raised an eye-popping $3.8 million.
A rising star, Hill was tapped to deliver the Democratic weekly address even before becoming sworn-in as a new member. Hill was also elected to a leadership position by the Democratic freshman class, becoming one of two freshman caucus representatives. She is one of seven California Democrats who ousted a Republican, and she is definitely a name to watch.
Maryland's Rep. Elijah Cummings is set to regain his position atop the powerful Oversight Committee next Congress, which should keep Trump and all his cronies up at night. Wielding significant subpoena power, Cummings will lead a number of investigations into wrongdoing by the Trump administration. The Washington Post names but a few: "hush money paid to a porn star on Trump’s behalf, citizenship questions on the census, security clearances revoked from the president's critics, and dozens of other oh-yeah-remember-thats that slipped out of the churning news cycle unanswered."
Cummings has publicly stated his desire to "do anything and everything in my power" to ensure special counsel Robert Mueller's findings are made public.
In an interview with the Washington Post soon after the 2018 midterms, Cummings said "President Trump has not been held accountable. We want to figure out if the president is acting in the interests of the American people or in his own financial interest."
"I would consider it legislative malpractice not to do it," he added.
California's Rep. Adam Schiff is preparing to take over as chair of the Intelligence Committee, replacing Trump stooge Rep. Devin Nunes. While Trump's ties to Russia will be high on Schiff's agenda, it will not be the only thing. Vox notes that issues surrounding Saudi Arabia and North Korea are also a topic of interest for Schiff.
On Saudi Arabia, information around the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi will be a pressing issue, as well as the real reasons Trump refuses to lay blame at the feet of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Without a lapdog leading the committee, Trump and his administration should be prepared to face tough, fair investigations by Schiff, who will not be kowtowed by Trump's juvenile name-calling.
Published with permission of The American Independent.