The U.S. Congress elected in November last year met on Sunday for the first time with two key issues: the growing division among Republicans over whether or not to concede Joe Biden’s victory, and the task of voting on the re-election of Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The session began at midday local time with a vote to register those legislators coming to Washington.
In the November 3rd election, in which Biden was elected president, the Democrats lost ten seats in the House of Representatives and, although they managed to maintain a majority, they were left with the narrowest margin of any party in that house in the last 20 years.
In the Senate, some have already taken the oath of office, although it will not be known until the January 5th election in Georgia which party will have the majority in that house.
With 216 votes in favor and 209 against, Pelosi secured enough votes to remain as Speaker of the House of Representatives. She was initially elected to the position in 2019, which places her as the third in the line of presidential succession, behind the vice president.
Pelosi, who held the same position from 2007 to 2011, remained silent as the vote took place, although she nodded or smiled every time a fellow member of the bench voted for her out loud.
Starting this Sunday, Democrats will hold 222 seats in the House of Representatives, while Republicans will have 211, a far tighter margin than in the last Congress.
Pelosi received overwhelming support from the majority of her party, including socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of “The Squad,” the nickname of the four young far-left congresswomen who arrived on Capitol Hill two years ago, and in which African Americans Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman have joined this year.
However, five Democrats broke ranks: Jared Golden and Conor Lamb, who voted for other Democratic legislators who had not run, and Abigail Spanberger, Elissa Slotkin, and Mikie Sherrill, who simply said “present” during the vote.
Congressmen loyals to Trump
Meanwhile, a growing number of Republicans have confirmed that they will challenge the legitimacy of Biden’s victory, in support of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has yet to recognize his defeat in the November election on claims of voter fraud.
At least 12 senators and some 140 representatives plan to oppose ratification of Biden’s victory during the January 6th congressional session scheduled for that purpose, forcing a vote on the election outcome.
The maneuver by these legislators, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, would not prevent Congress from ratifying Biden’s victory, but it will ensure a long debate and a vote on the president-elect’s victory.
Trump and other legislators, such as the Texan Representative Louie Gohmert, have urged supporters of the president to take to the streets in Washington on January 6th to protest what they consider election fraud.
The January 6th session of Congress is the final step in the process of certifying the election results and will clear the way for Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.