Broke Nancy Pelosi Donald Trump 1

In everyday life, Republicans and Democrats like to face each other with the behavior of two knife bands. But when a new Congress begins work, ceremonial suppleness settles over political Washington for a day.

And so on Thursday, when the Democrats officially took over the majority in the House of Representatives, there was no lack of celebration or commitment to cooperation. "We will debate and promote good ideas, no matter where they come from," promised the newly elected spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi.

Now faking a willingness to compromise in dysfunctional Washington is more part of the standard repertoire than real cooperation. But for the 78-year-old Democrat and her group, the question really arises as to how they will present themselves in the next two years. As a parliamentary investigator against Donald Trump? As a democratic barrier against the Republicans? As a solution-oriented representative of the people? Or all together, somehow?

The US President, not mentioned by name in Pelosi's speech, is the elephant in the room - or rather at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, which connects the Capitol and the White House.

Pelosi doesn't mention Trump at all

Trump is up for re-election in 2020 and parliamentary work will be overshadowed by the election campaign. Especially since the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, which also has to pass laws. Price brakes for prescription drugs and a small infrastructure program are considered possible cross-warehouse projects. There is not much more in common.

Pelosi made no mention of Trump in her speech, and yet her message was also addressed to him. Transparency is the "order of the day," she said. The Democrats are now chairing various committees that can force the US president to hand over documents, request access to government emails, and summon government officials.

One of the first laws that the Democrats want to introduce is to oblige presidents and their deputies to publish their tax returns for the past ten years. Trump had refused to do this.

"They'll fire subpoenas like a machine gun," predicted Matt Bennett, co-founder of the centrist democratic think tank Third Way, in an interview with the Economist. The first investigations into Trump's business, his relationship with Russia or the controversial processes in authorities such as the Ministry of the Environment could begin in just a few weeks.

Commitment to political reform

The legislative package that the Democrats want to present on Friday should also be understood as a commitment to political reform. In addition to issuing tax returns, it provides for a state doubling of small political donations, automatic voter registrations, the right to vote for former prisoners and independent decisions about the layout of constituencies. The chances of a Senate pass are slim, but the message is already aimed at 2020: America's democracy is broken - and the Democrats want to fix it.

However, the first day of this new era already showed that this message is not that easy to attract attention. The US President, who skilfully sucked off the oxygen as a candidate and during his term of office, is keeping the budget dispute and the debate about the border wall with Mexico in the headlines.

Pelosi will play a key role in the negotiations here too. Late on Thursday evening, the House of Representatives passed a draft budget that does not provide additional money for the wall, but for border guards. Trump rejects that, the Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell will not put the draft to the vote. The budget crisis could last for weeks.

The annoying "I word"

On Thursday the dreaded "I word" was circulating again. Impeachment is the name of the impeachment proceedings against the president. The House of Representatives can initiate it, but the Senate will pass the verdict. California MP Brad Sherman brought his for the second time since 2017 Impeachment-Draft law. He has no chance of being passed, but there is a desire in the democratic base to fight Trump with this strongest of all tools. However, with a view to the 2020 election, this could turn out to be an own goal.

Pelosi, chosen by the Republicans as their favorite enemy, has now assumed the majority leadership for the second time since 2007 (then until 2011). Most recently, such a return to office was achieved in the 1950s by the Texan Democrat Sam Rayburn, who was majority leader for a total of 17 years.

Pelosi, the only woman in this position to date, will not reach this stately term of office: In order to win the approval of dissenters in the parliamentary group, she had announced that she would withdraw in 2022. If Donald Trump is re-elected in two years, it could happen sooner.