Who Wants to Lead the House of Representatives?

Tuesday’s elections swept Democrats to power in the House for the first time since 2010, but before Election Day, the leaders of both parties were under pressure.

Democrats have the opportunity to upend the three septuagenarians — Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny H. Hoyer and James E. Clyburn — who have led the party since 2007. But a formidable challenger has yet to emerge for any of them.

For Republicans, now in the minority, the retirement of Speaker Paul D. Ryan has created jostling among conservatives pressing for a younger or harder-line leadership.

Elections will most likely be held within the party caucuses before the end of the month.

Democrats and The Majority

Nancy Pelosi of California

Ms. Pelosi, the only female speaker in history, is confident that she will have the votes to reclaim the gavel.

On the campaign trail the last few weeks, Ms. Pelosi, 78, has extolled her fund-raising ability and negotiation skills, even as a number of newly elected representatives and incumbents distanced themselves from her during the campaign.

It remains unclear, however, if any of her critics will challenge or vote against her. She is counting on the adage that you can’t beat someone with no one.

Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland

Ms. Pelosi’s longtime No. 2, Mr. Hoyer said on Wednesday that he would run for majority leader, his old post in the last Democratic majority.

In a letter to colleagues announcing his bid, Mr. Hoyer, 79, promised “that younger and more diverse members must be made a real part of the decision-making process,” but he said the Democratic caucus needed experienced leaders to counter the Trump administration.

Ms. Pelosi, who backed a rival during Mr. Hoyer’s 2006 run for leader, could also try to cut Mr. Hoyer loose to accommodate rebellious younger members seeking a top perch.

James E. Clyburn of South Carolina

Mr. Clyburn, 78, plans to reclaim his old post of majority whip, the No. 3 spot in the leadership.

He has the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose members have said they want one of their own in the top leadership positions. And he said he expected the current hierarchy to remain intact. That was a step back from previous suggestions that he could be an interim speaker if Ms. Pelosi failed to win the required 218 votes on the House floor.

Hakeem Jeffries of New York

Many Democrats believe Mr. Jeffries, the 48-year-old telegenic New Yorker, will be a centerpiece of their party’s future leadership in the House. The question is when.

Mr. Jeffries had kept his cards close to the vest, but in recent days he signaled to other Democrats that he was likely to jump into the race for Democratic caucus chairman, possibly announcing his candidacy as soon as Thursday. That position could set him up to take a shot at a top leadership position in a post-Pelosi world.

He is widely viewed as one of the party’s best communicators and has tried to position himself, somewhat improbably, as an ally of the caucus’s more moderate wing.

Diana DeGette of Colorado

A chief deputy whip for more than a decade, Ms. DeGette said on Wednesday that she would challenge Mr. Clyburn for the No. 3 whip position.

Ms. DeGette, 61, would be the second woman to serve as whip. She has served on a number of committees, including Energy and Commerce.

An aide to Ms. DeGette said she planned to emphasize her experience as a vote counter and the need to have more women in leadership roles to reflect the record-breaking number of women who will be in the House.

Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico

Mr. Luján, 46, was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the victorious 2018 campaign, and on Wednesday he said he would run to be assistant Democratic leader, the No. 4 position. Traditionally, a leadership post would be the reward for steering the party back to the majority.

Mr. Luján, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Native American Caucus, has also served as a chief deputy whip in the leadership since 2013.

Representative Denny Heck of Washington said on Wednesday that he would run to succeed Mr. Luján as head of the campaign arm.

Cheri Bustos of Illinois

The only current member of elected Democratic leadership from the Midwest, Ms. Bustos, 57, announced her intent to run for assistant Democratic leader last month.

Ms. Bustos, a former newspaper reporter, was the first woman to be elected in her district and has been involved in crafting the House’s farm and transportation bills.

Republicans and The Minority

Kevin McCarthy of California

After Mr. Ryan announced his retirement, the current majority leader, Mr. McCarthy, was anointed his successor. But a Republican will not be speaker next year, and his future in the leadership is less certain in the minority.

Mr. McCarthy announced on Wednesday that he would run for minority leader. A previous run for speaker ended badly in 2015, when he stumbled over public remarks and lost support among hard-line conservatives.

Since then, Mr. McCarthy, 53, has aligned himself closely with Mr. Trump.

Steve Scalise of Louisiana

Mr. Scalise, currently the majority whip, has said that he does not intend to challenge Mr. McCarthy for the highest Republican leadership role in the House: He said in a Fox News interview in April that he had “never run against Kevin and wouldn’t run against Kevin.”

But if Mr. McCarthy does not clinch the position, Mr. Scalise, 53, is widely seen as the most likely candidate to ascend to the role, where he would push the party rightward.

He has a sentimental edge, having overcome near-fatal injuries from the shooting on an Alexandria, Va., baseball field last year.

Jim Jordan of Ohio

Mr. Jordan, a founder of the hard-line Freedom Caucus who became enmeshed in a sexual assault scandal from his time as a college wrestling coach, reiterated his intent on Wednesday to challenge Mr. McCarthy for the top slot.

Mr. Jordan, 54, has the backing of many Freedom Caucus members and outside conservative groups, but is unlikely to overtake Mr. McCarthy or Mr. Scalise. His aggressive tactics — most notably mounting an effort to impeach Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general — have frequently divided the party. But in a close race, he could become a kingmaker.

Liz Cheney

Ms. Cheney announced on Wednesday that she was running for the fourth-highest position in the House, chairwoman of the Republican conference.

Ms. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, would replace Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has held the position since 2013, and would become the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House.

In a letter to her Republican colleagues, Ms. Cheney, 52, said she would overhaul the party’s communication and messaging efforts.

Nicholas Fandos and Julie Hirschfeld Davis contributed reporting.

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Victorious U.S. House Democrats could stymie census citizenship query

NEW YORK (Reuters) – With their party set to control the U.S. House of Representatives after Tuesday’s congressional elections, Democrats are already looking to halt the Trump administration’s efforts to collect citizenship data during the 2020 U.S. Census.

The decision to ask respondents to the census whether they are American citizens has drawn scorn since it was announced in March by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross – including from House Democrats who made futile calls to subpoena Ross earlier this year over his motives.

One of those lawmakers, Representative Elijah Cummings, told Reuters on Wednesday he plans to renew calls for an investigation. The Maryland Democrat is in line to chair the House Oversight Committee, the legislature’s primary investigative arm.

“Now that Democrats have regained control of the House, we will uphold our constitutional duty to investigate this matter and hold Administration officials accountable,” Cummings said in a statement to Reuters.

He said Democrats “were stonewalled” by Republicans in previous efforts to investigate the citizenship question.

Ross has said citizenship data is needed to better enforce federal laws prohibiting race-based voter discrimination, but critics say he wants to repress census participation in Democratic-leaning parts of the country. 

    Political scientists and researchers, including from the U.S. Census Bureau itself, have said the question will likely frighten immigrants into refusing to fill out their census forms, which could cost their communities crucial political representation and federal aid.

Eighteen U.S. states and 15 cities have sued to have the question removed, calling it unconstitutional.

Representative Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, is meanwhile working on draft legislation that would give the Census Bureau recourse if the count proves inaccurate.

The bill would allow the U.S. Census Bureau to request funding to redo the census, if post-mortem analysis reveals flawed data, said a congressional staffer familiar with the draft.

Maloney’s office had no immediate comment on Wednesday.

Former U.S. Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt, reached by phone on Wednesday, said he has been consulted on Maloney’s draft, which could be introduced next year.

Passing a law to eliminate the citizenship question is unlikely without the buy-in of the U.S. Senate, which remains in Republican hands, Prewitt said.

House Democrats could, however, try to attach such a provision “to a larger bill that must pass, and which the administration is less likely to veto,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a census consultant and former staff director of the House Census Oversight Subcommittee.

One such vehicle could be federal funding appropriations bills, Lowenthal said. Congress could pass a funding bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019 before the end of this calendar year, while Republicans still control the House. But in a lame-duck setting, Democrats may have influence in the process, Lowenthal added.

New York Democrat Jose Serrano is expected to chair the House subcommittee that funds the census. He has been adamantly against the citizenship question and earlier this year proposed an unsuccessful amendment to prevent the Commerce Department from spending money on a census that included the query.

House Democrats could also scrutinize the bureau’s efforts to protect respondents’ data during the 2020 census, the first to be conducted largely online, said Thomas Wolf, an attorney at New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice.

They could also pressure Trump administration officials to pledge to follow federal laws that prevent the sharing of individual census data between government agencies, Wolf said.

Prewitt said lawmakers may be inclined to delay any significant action to block the question until courts have ruled on its constitutionality. But he said he expected them to hold hearings on the matter anyway “to make noise about it, and just to establish they’re in charge.”

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Ontario Tories to unveil social assistance reforms on Nov. 22

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is poised to unveil reforms to the province’s social assistance programs on Nov. 22.

In a statement on Wednesday, Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod said the government has spent 100 days carving out a plan to reform Ontario’s “disjointed patchwork” of programs.

“The previous government’s solution aimlessly threw money at the problem without any plan to help people get out of poverty,” she said. “The only measurable outcome has been trapping the very people the system is there to assist, in a deeper cycle of financial insecurity.”

The provincial government announced in July that it would be shutting down the Liberals’ basic income pilot project in Brantford, Hamilton, Lindsay and the Thunder Bay area. The year-old program was supposed to last up to three years. Payments for those in the program will be discontinued in March.

The government also said it would be reducing the previous government’s planned increase in social assistance rates from three per cent to 1.5 per cent.

As of July, the most recent numbers available, nearly a million Ontarians received benefits from either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.

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Trump vows to resist any Democratic effort to investigate White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed to jettison any attempt at bipartisanship and fight back if the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives used its powers to press investigations into his administration.

Trump, speaking during a combative news conference in which he trumpeted his role in the Republican gains made in Tuesday’s midterm elections, warned that he would adopt a “warlike posture” if Democrats investigated him.

Democrats will now head House committees that can probe the president’s tax returns, which he has refused to turn over, possible business conflicts of interest and any links between his 2016 election campaign and Russia, a matter that is being investigated by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump was buoyed by victories that added to the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, telling reporters at the White House that the gains outweighed the Democrats’ takeover of the House. He added that he was willing to work with Democrats on key priorities but felt any investigations of his administration would hurt prospects for bipartisanship.

“They can play that game, but we can play it better,” Trump said of the possibility of Democratic investigations. “All you’re going to do is end up in back and forth and back and forth, and two years is going to go up and we won’t have done a thing.”

The divided power in Congress combined with Trump’s expansive view of executive power could herald even deeper political polarization and legislative gridlock in Washington.

There may be some room, however, for Trump and Democrats to work together on issues with bipartisan support such as a package to improve infrastructure, protections against prescription drug price increases and in the push to rebalance trade with China.

“It really could be a beautiful bipartisan situation,” Trump said.

He said Nancy Pelosi, who could be the next speaker of the House, had expressed to him in a phone call a desire to work together. With Democrats mulling whether to stick with Pelosi, who was speaker when the party last controlled the House, or go in a new direction, Trump said in a tweet earlier that she deserves to be chosen for the position.

The Democrats fell short of a tidal wave of voter support that would have won them control of both chambers of Congress. But in the 435-member House, the party was headed for a gain of around 30 seats, beyond the 23 they needed to claim their first majority in eight years.

A Senate majority would have allowed Democrats to apply even firmer brakes on Trump’s policy agenda and given them the ability to block any future Supreme Court nominees.

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House Democrats could force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico and pass a second major tax-cut package. Legislators could also demand more transparency from Trump as he negotiates new trade deals with Japan and the European Union.

“Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” Pelosi told supporters at a victory party Tuesday night.

Trump also mocked Republican candidates who had refused to back his policies and ultimately lost their races, such as U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

“They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad but I feel just fine about it,” he said.

GRIDLOCK?

U.S. stocks jumped on Wednesday as investors, who often favor Washington gridlock because it preserves the status quo and reduces uncertainty, bought back into a market that had its worst month in seven years in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained more than 1.5 percent by early afternoon while the broad-based S&P 500 index was up 1.6 percent. The dollar was slightly weaker against a basket of currencies.

A Democrat-controlled House could hamper Trump’s attempts to further his pro-business agenda, fueling uncertainty about his administration. His corporate tax cuts and the deregulation that have played a large hand in the U.S. stock market’s rally since the 2016 election, however, are likely to remain untouched.

“With the Democrats taking over the House we will now have to see what gridlock in Congress means for policy. As for the market impact, a split Congress has historically been bullish for equities and we expect to see the same pattern again,” said Torsten Slok, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank.

Democrats will use their new majority to reverse what they see as a hands-off approach by Republicans toward Trump’s foreign policy, and push for tougher dealings with Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

Foreign policy has been an area that Trump has approached in a very personal way, sometimes antagonizing allies such as Canada while making what critics see as unduly warm overtures to traditional U.S. rivals or foes.

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Democrats could work with Republicans to produce a long-awaited bill to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges and airports.

“Of course, we want to work in a bipartisan fashion. I think we can get an infrastructure bill,” he said.

Trump had hardened his rhetoric in recent weeks on issues that appealed to his conservative core supporters. He threw himself into the campaign, issuing warnings about a caravan of Latin American migrants headed through Mexico to the U.S. border and condemnations of liberal American “mobs” he says oppose him.

DEMOCRATIC PROBES

Every seat in the House was up for grabs on Tuesday and opinion polls had pointed to the Democratic gains. The party with the presidency often loses House seats in midterm elections.

The Republicans had an advantage in Senate races because elections were held for only 35 seats in the 100-member chamber and many of them were in states that often lean Republican.

Republicans built on their slim Senate majority by several seats and ousted at least three incumbent Democrats: Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

In Florida, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson was trailing his Republican rival by a slim margin, with the possibility of a recount looming. Republican Martha McSally was leading Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the U.S. senate race in Arizona with some votes still to be counted.

The Republican gains are sure to bolster the party’s efforts to get conservative federal judges through confirmation proceedings. In the 36 gubernatorial contests, Democrats won in several states that supported Trump in 2016 but lost high-profile races in Florida and Ohio. (Full Story)

Democrats could infuriate Trump by launching another congressional investigation into allegations of Russian interference on his behalf in 2016. Moscow denies meddling and Trump, calling the Mueller probe a witchhunt, denies any collusion.

Trump said he could fire Mueller if he wanted but was hesitant to take that step. “I could fire everybody right now, but I don’t want to stop it, because politically I don’t like stopping it,” he said.

A majority vote in the House would be enough to impeach Trump if evidence surfaced of collusion by his campaign, or of obstruction by the president of the federal investigation. But Congress could not remove him from office without a conviction by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, an unlikely scenario.

The Democratic gains on Tuesday were fueled by women, young and Hispanic voters, a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll found. A record number of women ran for office this election, many of them Democrats.

Although Democrats picked up seats across the map, some of their biggest stars lost.

Liberal Beto O’Rourke’s underdog Senate campaign fell short in conservative Texas against Republican Ted Cruz. Andrew Gillum lost to Republican Ron DeSantis in his quest to become Florida’s first black governor.

In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams was seeking to become the first black woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state. Her opponent, Brian Kemp, was ahead in a very close race early on Wednesday and Abrams said she would not concede until all the votes were counted.

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Doug Ford defends PC Party response to sexual misconduct allegation against Jim Wilson

ASTRA, Ont. – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says one of his senior cabinet ministers was asked to resign last week after an allegation of sexual misconduct was levelled against him.

A statement from Ford’s office released last Friday had said Jim Wilson resigned from both his role as economic development minister and the Progressive Conservative caucus because he was seeking treatment for addiction issues.

At an announcement in eastern Ontario this morning, Ford said that was true, but also confirmed recent media reports that an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour was behind Wilson’s departure.

Ford says he did not disclose the full story about Wilson on Friday out of a desire to protect the person who came forward with the allegation, saying it would have been inappropriate to make the situation a media issue.

He says he asked Wilson to resign from caucus, saying he would have fired the veteran politician if he had refused.

The premier also says an investigation into Wilson is underway.

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Trump says Democrat Pelosi 'deserves' to be House speaker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threw his support behind top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi, saying she ought to be U.S. House Speaker, one day after Democrats won enough seats in the midterm congressional election to take control of Congress’ lower chamber.

“In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats. If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

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Republican concedes Connecticut's gubernatorial race to Democrat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican seeking the Connecticut governorship conceded the race to his Democratic rival on Wednesday, handing the Democratic party another statehouse win following Tuesday’s midterm U.S. election.

“A few moments ago, I called Ned Lamont to concede the race for governor and congratulate him on a hard-fought victory. I wish both Ned and the state of Connecticut success over these next four years,” Bob Stefanowski said in a series of posts on Twitter that also highlighted his focus on taxes.

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Germany: 'Europe United' must be answer to Trump's 'America First'

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday that Europe must respond to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda of tighter borders, protectionist economic policies and unilateralist diplomacy, with “Europe United”.

He said he expected U.S. Democrats, who in Tuesday’s midterm elections won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, to use their newfound power to more heavily influence Trump’s policies.

“We’ll see to what extent that has an impact. We hope that this cooperation will be constructive and lead to constructive results in international politics,” Maas said.

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