IMPORTANT CHANGES IN NEW YORK
So it’s finally over.
The House of Representatives will be controlled by the Democrats and there is the chance that the so-called lower house will finally take its oversight responsibilities seriously. There are, of course, Democrats who are already saying that they should leave Donald Trump alone. That would be exactly the wrong thing to do. The time to investigate Trump has finally arrived. And now for the first time, the House relevant committees will probably have Bob Mueller’s report to work from and will have subpoena power to ask for things like the president’s tax returns which he has fought against like a bantam rooster. Trust me, you don’t fight that hard to protect the privacy of your taxes if you have nothing to hide. Then, too, there is the famous Russian connection which the feckless Republicans in the House and Senate have failed to properly investigate. You can expect that Donald Trump will tweet like a canary and the House will become the new enemy of the people. It will become very, very nasty because Trump knows that his entire reputation will properly be at risk.
The question of Nancy Pelosi’s continuation as the Speaker of the House will be on the minds of many of the newbies who were elected to the House and who, following the shortest path to being elected, swore to their electorate that they would not vote for Pelosi. For her part, Pelosi has been quoted as saying that she wants to be a transition leader. But it should be remembered that in this, the year of the woman, it might be very difficult for some of the new members to be seen as hostile to the top female leader in the country.
It should also be remembered that with the Democrats taking control of the House, there will be a lot of new, very powerful leaders taking prominent position. Richie Neal, one of my favorite people in politics, will assume control of the Ways and Means Committee, one of the most powerful in the House. Paul Tonko may become the chair of the subcommittee that will take control of things environmental.
In New York State, there will be a number of important changes. The State Senate, too often putting obstacles in the way of progressive legislation like the codifying of Rowe V. Wade into state law, will now be controlled by the Democrats. For years, the Assembly has passed good progressive legislation and the Senate has made sure that the Assembly product goes nowhere. In fact, they even passed some badly needed ethics legislation but we will have to see whether the Assembly folks who were elected under the old self-serving rules have the cojones to put forward the same legislation now that it actually has the possibility of its passing.
The other problem is that the history of New York is replete with examples of self-destruction once the Democrats take power. It is important to remind those in the Democratic camp to obey all the laws and not to endanger their majority by doing something that will surely get them thrown into prison. We have seen that happen before – you can look it up. To the new Senate Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, we send our best wishes for good luck in herding the new Senate Democratic majority cats into a responsible and productive group of legislators. Fortunately, she will have the able help of Michael Gianaris to make sure that the Democrats don’t blow it.
Then there is Governor Andrew Cuomo who promised the people that he would serve out his full term. I suspect that he may not have been telling the truth and that he will find a reason to break that pledge. He will, of course, run for president and if you have been listening to him, you’d guess that he already is.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].