North Carolina

Here’s what NC’s three Democrats want from the new Congress as their party takes control

Rep. Pelosi celebrates new Democratic majority in the House

Nancy Pelosi spoke to supporters on November 6, 2018 after it was clear that Democrats would win enough seats in the House of Representatives to retake the majority.
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Nancy Pelosi spoke to supporters on November 6, 2018 after it was clear that Democrats would win enough seats in the House of Representatives to retake the majority.

For the first time in her congressional career, Rep. Alma Adams will be part of the majority in the U.S. House.

“It feels good,” said Adams, a Charlotte Democrat who cruised to reelection for her third full term earlier this month.

When Congress convenes for its next session in January, Adams and Democrats will hold the majority after flipping more than 30 Republican-held seats across the nation.

Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield, whose sprawling 1st district includes Durham, and David Price, whose 4th district includes Raleigh and Chapel Hill, also easily won reelection. Adams, Butterfield and Price are the lone Democratic representatives in North Carolina’s 13-member delegation.

Alma Adams

Butterfield and Price have been part of Democratic majorities in the past.

The Democrats’ first bill in January is expected to include new House ethics measures and voting rights protections, a move applauded by North Carolina’s trio.

“The American people are demanding civility in Washington. Everywhere I go, Democrat, Republican, black, white, rural, urban, even McDonald’s in the morning to get a cup of coffee,” Butterfield said.

He says people tell him: “ ‘You guys need to do the people’s business, you ought to be willing to compromise and to provide security for the nation and for America’s families.’ If we fail to deliver on our promise of civility, then we have failed the American people and the Republicans need to make the same pledge. They need to pledge civility as well.”

U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC District 4) is flanked by his daughter Karen Price, left, and wife Lisa Price as he thanks supporters during an election night event Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 at the NC Democratic Party Headquarters in Raleigh.

Here are a few of the things North Carolina’s trio of Democrats want to see in the new Congress:

No leadership fight

The three North Carolina Democrats all support former Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her attempt to regain the gavel. The House is slated to vote Nov. 28 on its new speaker.

Though no other Democrat has announced his or her candidacy for the top job, several younger members have pledged not to support California’s Pelosi for another term. Pelosi, the only woman to ever be speaker, held the post from 2007 to 2011.

“I understand that there is a pretty strong argument that we need fresh blood in the leadership and I respect that view. But now is not the time to make any significant changes in the top three among our leaders,” Butterfield said, referencing Pelosi, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. “To change the lineup would disrupt the caucus at a time when we need to be united.”

This file photo shows Democratic Reps. David Price, left, and G.K. Butterfield. Chuck Liddy

Price said Pelosi herself has suggested she’d be a “transitional Speaker” and said it will soon be time for a new generation of leaders among Democrats, but not yet.

“This period we’re going to be going through with all the uncertainty about the president and his behavior and the need to re-establish ourselves as a governing party calls for seasoned leadership. It’s not a time to be absorbed in internal battles,” Price said.

Robust oversight

Democrats have promised to conduct oversight on President Donald Trump and the executive branch, a prospect that has led some Republicans, notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to warn of “presidential harassment.”

“It is not harassment for the Congress of the United States to ask questions of the executive branch and the president. That is our responsibility as members of Congress,” Butterfield said.

Said Adams: “We’re going to be responsible and they (Republicans) were not. I don’t think it is out of the ordinary for the Congress to provide that oversight. That’s why we have three branches of government.”

Butterfield and Adams said it is imperative that special counsel Robert Mueller be able to conclude his investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion without interference from Trump. Butterfield said Congress should look at payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who said they had affairs with the president, as well how Trump properties are benefiting from his time in office. Adams said Democrats should make it a requirement that presidential candidates release their tax returns, a tradition that Trump did not follow in 2016.

Price, who will be the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on transportation and housing, said he plans to investigate the Department of Housing and Urban Development for failing to enforce “adequate property standards.”

An infrastructure plan

Trump has talked about a large-scale infrastructure project throughout his presidency, and that could be one area where House Democrats are willing to work with the president.

The three North Carolina Democrats indicated they’d be in favor of infrastructure spending. But, in a sign of how difficult it is to pass such bills, all three said they had different priorities for such a bill.

Price said he wants to see more transportation projects, like the Union Station in Raleigh, expanded light rail and housing projects in a bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Adams, who taught at Bennett College in Greensboro for 40 years, said historically black colleges, many established more than a century ago, should get funds to help restore buildings.

Butterfield, whose districts spans 14 counties, wants to make sure that some of the spending is directed to rural counties. Butterfield said he is willing to raise corporate tax rates by a few percentage points — they were lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent in the Republican tax bill that passed in 2017 — and do away with new tax cuts for Americans making more than $200,000 to help pay for infrastructure projects.

McConnell, who will lead the Republican-majority Senate, said, “Republicans are not interested in doing a $900 billion stimulus.”

“The question is how are you going to pay for it? That always becomes very challenging,” he said. “There’s no easy way to pay for infrastructure without impacting an awful lot of Americans.”

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Brian Murphy: 202.383.6089; Twitter: @MurphinDC