NEW HAVEN, CT — U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, unlike some of her Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, doesn’t want to spend a lot of time talking or even thinking about impeaching President Donald Trump.
“Impeachment is not for me,” DeLauro told a group of reporters Tuesday in her New Haven office during a wide-ranging interview centered on accomplishments in the first 200 days of the Democrat-controlled House.
But while DeLauro spoke at length about initiatives that have passed the House, including bills calling for an increase in the minimum wage, a so-called “paycheck fairness bill,” legislation to lower health care and prescription drugs prices, and more, the conversation always seemed to find itself coming back to Trump.
DeLauro said she believes Democrats should be focusing their energy on upcoming elections rather than impeachment.
“I do a lot of meetings in my district,” DeLauro said, “and rarely do I get any questions about impeachment. I see this (impeachment talk) ending next November when we vote him out of office.”
DeLauro and her fellow Democratic congressional representatives are spending the days before the House goes back into session making the case that they’ve accomplished a lot since last November’s election gave Democrats control of the House.
At the same time, Republican House leaders are using the time to argue the exact opposite.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in her rallying-cry memo to Democrats last week, stated: “As we enter the August district work period, we must show the American people how Democrats are fighting for the people. We cannot get distracted by whatever outrageous behavior is coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Pelosi said that over the last 200 days, Democrats have delivered transformative progress on lowering health care costs: “We have sent the Senate 10 bills to lower health care costs and prescription drug prices, reverse the GOP’s health care sabotage, and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
Pelosi added: “We have passed legislation to deliver a pay raise to tens of millions of workers and to close the gender pay gap. We have passed vital investments in America’s infrastructure — and there’s more to come with new investments in roads, bridges, mass transit, ports, airports, schools, water systems, energy grids and broadband, which will create millions of good-paying jobs and increase paychecks for workers.
Republicans aren’t buying the Democrats’ public relations pitch.
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, last week, said that the Democratic Party has “ignored in its first 200 days as the majority in the House of Representatives, including the crisis at the border, ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and lowering prescription drug prices.”
McCarthy said he looked at the number of bills passed out of committee when the Republicans were in charge of the House before the 2017 election — and “there were 308 bills passed by this moment. The Democrats, who just celebrated their 200 days, haven’t even passed 200 bills out of committee — they are at 184.”
“The U.S. House of Representatives under their majority has become the U.S. House of Resolutions,” McCarthy said. “So they are celebrating 200 days of doing resolutions, but were never able to provide law. It’s holding America back.”
DeLauro’s view on the politics in Congress?
“Actually at the rank-and-file level Democrats and Republicans work together,” DeLauro said. “It’s only when it comes to passing legislation at the high ranking levels that things seem to fall into party-line votes.”
The result is that legislation that makes it through the House often dies in the Republican-controlled Senate, which is where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — or the “grim reaper,” as DeLauro and many other Democrats refer to him — refuses to bring measures up for votes.
Asked why none, or not many, Republicans seem to want to buck Trump or McConnell, DeLauro said she didn’t know, instead asking a question herself. “What is the fear factor of Republicans?”
Explaining her recent vote against the border supplemental bill, DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, said the bill did not go far enough in protecting children.
“Given the Trump administration’s history of abuses, I could not in good conscience vote to give the Trump administration this funding because I do not trust them to properly care for the children,” DeLauro said.
“I fought hard for several critical protections that were included in the House-passed bill but not the Senate’s, such as: ensuring every facility children stay in meet required standards of care enshrined in the Flores settlement for the first time ever; setting a 90-day limit on how long children can stay in an influx facility; requiring HHS (Health and Human Services) to tell Congress if a child dies in their custody, and; requiring HHS to allow members of Congress to conduct oversight visits without advance notice,” DeLauro said.
Asked about Trump’s latest Twitter target, Rep. Elijah Cummings, who Trump has attacked for not doing more for the section of Baltimore that Cummings represented, DeLauro sadly shook her head.
“People have no idea of the integrity of this (Cummings) man,” DeLauro said. “Talk about someone who rises above the fray — that’s who Elijah Cummings is.”
“To disparage Cummings gives real insight into him (Trump) when your son-in-law (Jared Kushner) is a landlord in this city and has done nothing” to help with the conditions, Delauro said. “It’s shameless, but that’s who this president is.”
Trump has shown no signs of slowing his attack against Cummings. On Tuesday, speaking to reporters as he left the White House, Trump said that he would visit Baltimore “at the right time” and claimed that he has helped himself politically with his relentless attacks that began with tweets over the weekend in which he called the city a “rodent infested mess.”
“The African American community is so thankful,” Trump said. “They’ve called me and said finally someone is telling the truth.”
DeLauro, with nearly three decades in office and leadership roles on several committees, is well known on the national level and has strong views on what is needed for the Democrats to win back the White House in 2020 against Trump.
“We need someone to connect with working families, middle-class folks,” DeLauro said. She said she believes that several of the Democratic candidates in the field meet that criteria but she isn’t ready yet to single one out for her endorsement.