Will everything change now that Democrats have taken control of the US House of Representatives? That depends on what our elected officials actually do with their power—and the decisions of two Seattle Democrats are key.
One of those Democrats, Congressman Adam Smith, just took control of a powerful House committee that oversees the US military, and he's already been using the opportunity to tangle with Trump on national television.
The other, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, just landed a seat on the House Judiciary Committee, which will play a central role in the consideration of any articles of impeachment against President Trump. Jayapal also recently secured a commitment from new Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold the first-ever hearings on Medicare for All.
Here's more on what Seattle voters should be watching for from Smith and Jayapal.
Adam Smith—who represents South Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, and Federal Way—has parlayed his 11 previous terms in Congress into a key position: chair of the House Armed Services Committee. That gives him the power to examine what he says is Trump's misuse of the military, as well as a large megaphone for rebutting Trump's lies. Smith has wasted no time, telling CNN recently that Trump's threats to declare a "national emergency" and raid military accounts to pay for his border wall were dangerous and wrongheaded.
Smith told the cable news audience: "There is no national emergency. The president is artificially creating this 'emergency' to keep up his anti-immigrant and racist campaign promise."
The congressman was already upset at Trump's "politically motivated stunt" (Smith's words) of sending active-duty soldiers to the border with Mexico just before the midterm elections to fight a bogus "invasion" (Trump's word) that was made up of asylum-seeking immigrants, many of them women and children fleeing dire conditions in Central America.
"The border deployment will be among the first oversight issues that the Armed Services Committee takes up in the new Congress," Smith said in a November 23 statement.
Pramila Jayapal—who represents Seattle, Edmonds, and Vashon Island—will be staying in her coveted spot on the House Judiciary Committee as it gears up to consider possible impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Back in 2017, she said that the president is guilty of "significant impeachable constitutional violations." Jayapal stands by that statement, according to spokesperson Vedant Patel, and is looking forward to being part of new Judiciary Committee investigations into how the president's campaign may have communicated with Russia and whether Trump's actions in office violate the Constitution's emoluments clause.
Jayapal is also looking forward to seeing what comes from the Mueller report, and wants Congress to help protect the Special Counsel's work.
In June of 2018, Jayapal was arrested during a protest of Trump's "zero tolerance" family separation policy at the border. During the fight over Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, Jayapal showed she was willing to march into the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room and stare down Republican congressmen who were about to put a man accused of sexual assault on the high court. With her continued role on the Judiciary Committee—and her continued leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and her new spot on the House Education and Labor Committee—she'll be in a position to bring bold advocacy in pursuit of her promises, which now include those first-time-in-history Medicare for All hearings, too.