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Ms Pelosi’s gavel

Aside from the historic choice, Ms Pelosi has started her innings at the crease to end the shutdown in the United States of America.

Editorial | New Delhi |

Four days into the New Year, the Democrats in the United States of America have reclaimed the gavel with the election of Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. In a sense, she has scripted history in the US as the first woman elected to the office. The Democrat from California garnered 220 votes, against her Republican opponent’s 192. “Our nation is at a historic moment,” Ms Pelosi said in her remarks on the floor of the House. “Two months ago, the American people spoke and demanded a new dawn,” she reminded the legislature in an obvious allusion to the midterm election. Aside from the historic choice, Ms Pelosi has started her innings at the crease to end the shutdown in the United States of America.

In their first act after officially taking control, the Democrats tested their power in a fractious Washington by passing legislation to end a partial government shutdown that has entered its 14th day. The two-part package includes a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels until 8 February, providing $1.3 billion for border security measures. The striking feature must be that it has ignored President Trump’s demand for $ 5.6 billion to erect 200 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico at Tijuana. Thus did the House convey a message to the White House. The second part funds the other federal agencies that now make do without funds, including the agriculture, interior, transportation, commerce and justice departments, until 30 September, the end of the USA’s current fiscal year.

However, the prompt legislation is unlikely to break the impasse over the shutdown. In an official White House statement, President Trump has formally pledged to veto the same. With governance in limbo and funding and salaries in disarray both at home and the world, the legislative-executive joust may only have just begun. Both the Democrats and the presidential cabal are gearing up for what is expected to be a tumultuous final two years of the President’s term.

Ms Pelosi has implored Mr Trump to take “yes for an answer”, noting that the bills had previously drawn overwhelming support from Senate Republicans. However, she insisted “we’re not doing a wall” and described the President’s signature proposal as “an immorality”. The House bills will now go to the Senate, which remains under Republican control. With the constitutional/fiscal crisis still far from a resolution, the 2019-20 Congress began work on Thursday with roughly a quarter of the federal government closed, affecting 800,000 employees, in a shutdown triggered by Trump’s demand last month for the money for a wall along the US-Mexican border as part of any legislation to fund government agencies. This has been vehemently opposed by Democrats. Nancy Pelosi’s legislation has palpably widened the rift.