Democrats should use their House advantage as a bargaining chip

Last week’s midterm elections saw Democrats retake the House and Republicans strengthen their hold in the Senate. While the battle for Congress hardly produced the blue waves many Democrats hoped for, the party of “resist” has a new bargaining chip.

With the power of a House majority behind them, Democrats are now faced with a choice: Negotiate for legislative wins or total warfare.

Democrats have a chance to launch an aggressive assault against President Donald Trump and his administration. Articles of impeachment, which can be used against any member of the Executive or Judicial branch, must originate in the House. This means that while the Senate has the newfound strength to confirm Trump’s nominees, Democrats could easily threaten to obstruct.

This would be a waste.

While there is a ripe opportunity to get anti-Trump sound bites and stoke partisanship, Democrats have far more tangible gains to win through compromise and negotiation with the Senate.

The “Power of the Purse” is an exclusive power of the House and, as a result, spending and tax bills must originate in the 435-member chamber. Trump campaigned on infrastructure investment, as well as reforming Social Security and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

While some of these may be difficult to work across the aisle, others, like infrastructure spending, would provide real legislative wins to Democrats to take home to their electorates. But, this rests on Democrats being willing to propose something that would benefit everyone.

Bringing a spirit of bipartisanship to the 116th Congress offers the potential for a Democratic facelift. Since Trump’s election in 2016, which brought with it House and Senate majorities for Republicans, Democrats have had few incentives but to be “no” votes.

Now, Democrats can be more than roadblocks to a Republican agenda and it would serve their interests. Many of the seats flipped in 2018 went to moderate Democrats who will face heated battles for re-election in 2020. Working with Republicans will only help these Democrats hold their seats in districts where partisanship is not appreciated.

In a victory speech, following confirmation that Democrats would retake the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- CA) said, “We will strive for bipartisanship. We believe that we have a responsibility to seek common ground where we can.”

It now rests on the shoulders of Pelosi and House Democratic leadership to follow through on that statement. All Americans stand to benefit and our elected officials should recognize that.



Aida Vazquez-Soto is a senior majoring in political science and economics.