A new era of divided government arrives in Washington on Thursday, as Democrats are poised to take control of the House amid a partial government shutdown now in its second week.
Upon convening at noon, the House — which includes 63 new members — is expected to elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as speaker for a second time.
By the end of the day, Pelosi intends to push through legislation to reopen the government. But it has already been declared dead on arrival in the Republican-led Senate because it won’t meet President Trump’s demand for billions in border wall funding.
Hours before the chambers were scheduled to meet, sparring was well underway.
10:45 a.m.: More blame Trump for shutdown than Democrats, poll finds
A new poll finds more Americans blaming President Trump than Democrats for the partial government shutdown, but there has been little change in the president’s overall job rating.
Forty eight percent say Trump is most to blame for the shutdown, while 35 percent blame congressional Democrats and 4 percent blame congressional Republicans, according to the Economist/YouGov survey released Wednesday.
When asked to assess blame individually, 53 percent say Trump deserves “a lot” of blame for causing the shutdown, while 41 percent blame Democrats in Congress a lot and 40 percent blame Republicans in Congress a lot.
Trump’s job approval rating has changed little since the shutdown began, according to the poll, standing at 42 percent approving with 51 percent disapproving.
In a poll late last month, 43 percent approved while 50 percent disapproved.
Part of the stability in Trump’s rating is the deeply partisan nature of blame for the shutdown.
Only 12 percent of Trump’s 2016 voters say he deserves “a lot” of blame for the shutdown, compared with 92 percent of Clinton voters and 86 percent of Democrats.
There’s still more risk for him though, with independents saying by 44 percent to 29 percent that Trump is most to blame for the shutdown rather than Democrats in Congress.
10:15 a.m.: California Democrat plans to introduce articles of impeachment
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) plans to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump on the opening day of the 116th Congress.
Sherman is accusing Trump of obstructing justice by firing former FBI director James B. Comey in 2017, among other alleged misdeeds.
“There is no reason it shouldn’t be before the Congress,” Sherman told the Los Angeles Times. “Every day, Donald Trump shows that leaving the White House would be good for our country.”
Sherman previously introduced articles of impeachment in 2017, when Republicans controlled the House.
Pelosi said in an interview broadcast Thursday that a decision about impeachment should be guided by a forthcoming report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” Pelosi said. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we’ll just have to see how it comes.”
9:45 a.m.: Trump attributes shutdown to 2020 presidential politics
Trump went on Twitter hours before the new Congress convened to assert that the partial government shutdown was the result of Democratic posturing in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
“The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election,” Trump wrote. “The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of ‘Trump,’ so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security – and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!”
“Presidential Harassment” is a term Trump has appropriated from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) meant to convey overly aggressive oversight of the administration.
9:15 a.m.: Quadriplegic lawmaker to preside over House on opening day
Pelosi has designated Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), the first quadriplegic elected to Congress, to preside over debate on Thursday afternoon.
The move is intended to highlight what Democratic leaders say is a commitment to creating a more inclusive government.
Langevin, who has served in Congress since 2001, is currently co-chairman of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus.
“Together, we are proudly reaffirming a fundamental truth: that in our nation, we respect people for what they can do, not judge them for what they cannot do,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Her office noted that Langevin will use a podium lift system that was installed during Pelosi’s previous tenure as speaker.
7:45 a.m. Kellyanne Conway knocks Pelosi for insulting Trump
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Thursday that Pelosi showed “very poor form” in a television interview by insulting President Trump.
Conway was objecting to comments made by Pelosi about Trump’s relationships with women during an interview broadcast Thursday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.
“I don’t know if he knows how to deal with women in power and women with strength, but we’ll see,” Pelosi said. “Let’s hope for the best in that regard.”
[Pelosi fills role as Trump’s sparring partner, respecting the office but not the man]
Appearing on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” Conway noted that Trump has women as senior advisers in the White House and his Cabinet.
During the interview, Conway also knocked Democratic leaders for their refusal to meet Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion in border wall funding.
Conway said Democrats need to show “more seriousness of purpose” on the issue, which is at the center of a partial government shutdown.
“They don’t want to hear the facts and the figures,” she said. “They’re now turning a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis.”
7:30 a.m.: Pelosi says it might be possible to indict a sitting president
Pelosi said in an interview broadcast Thursday that she considers the question of whether a sitting president can be indicted an “open discussion.”
Her comments come as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III continues to investigate a range of issues stemming from Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Under current Justice Department guidelines, presidents cannot be indicted while in office but can be charged with crimes after they leave the White House.
“I do not think that is conclusive, no I do not,” Pelosi said during an interview on NBC.
Pelosi said it is clear that a president can be indicted after leaving office. Pressed by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie as to whether a president could be indicted while in office, Pelosi said: “I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law.”
Legal scholars are divided on the issue.
During the interview, Pelosi also said that discussions about impeaching Trump should be guided by an anticipated report from Mueller.
“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” she said. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we’ll just have to see how it comes.”
7:15 a.m.: Pelosi: ‘This is the Trump shutdown through and through’
Pelosi blamed Trump “through and through” for the partial government shutdown and said it’s a challenge to negotiate with him during an television interview broadcast Thursday.
Her comments come amid a funding dispute over Trump’s promised border wall that has shuttered about a quarter of the federal government.
“This is the Trump shutdown through and through,” Pelosi said on NBC. “There’s no escaping that for him. That doesn’t mean we take any joy in the fact that there is a Trump shutdown. We want government to open.”
[Trump rejects a plan from Democrats to reopen key parts of the federal government]
In the interview, which was recorded Wednesday, Pelosi said Democrats have “nothing to do” with the stalemate, saying it is the result of a “ridiculous” campaign promise by Trump.
“When you’re negotiating with someone, you have to know – you stipulate to some fact,” she added. “It’s hard to do that with the president because he resists science, evidence, data, truth. It’s hard to pin the president down on the facts.”
Pelosi also took aim at Trump for his assertion that Mexico would be paying for a border wall through savings achieved by a renegotiated trade deal.
“The president either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or doesn’t want to know what he’s talking about,” she said. “There’s no way that money from a trade agreement makes a profit that goes to pay for a wall.”
6 a.m.: Pelosi to call on House to address income disparity
Pelosi plans to call for “bold thinking” on income disparity as she lists priorities for the new Congress after taking the gavel as speaker on Thursday.
In excerpts of planned remarks released by her office, Pelosi says income disparity “is at the root of the crisis of confidence felt by so many Americans.”
“We must be champions of the middle class, and all those who aspire to it – because the middle class is the backbone of democracy,” she says.
In her remarks, Pelosi will also call on Congress to address climate change, calling that “a moral decision to be good stewards of God’s creation,” and advocate for lower prescription drug prices and investing in “green and modern infrastructure.”
Scott Clement and Emily Guskin contributed to this report.
Read more at PowerPost