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Cohen, Kustoff sound off on impact of Democrats retaking control of House

By Updated: November 08, 2018 10:23 AM CT

Both Memphis U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen and David Kustoff easily won re-election Tuesday night and are preparing for a new Congress after the Democrats regained control of the 435-member House of Representatives for the first time since 2010.

Cohen said Wednesday he expects to chair a major subcommittee – likely criminal law or constitutional law, which are subcommittees of the House Justice Judiciary Committee – as House Democrats are likely to increase oversight and investigations into President Donald Trump’s administration.

“It’s the people’s House and has been the House of Trump and is now the House of the people as it was designed by our Constitution and our founding fathers,” Cohen, a Democrat who represents the 9th Congressional District, said Wednesday.  

Six in 10 registered voters said Trump factored into their vote for congressional seats in the midterm elections, according to Pew Research. Thirty-seven percent said they considered their congressional ballot as a vote against Trump, while about 23 percent said their choices represented a vote for Trump.

Broken down by party, 66 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters viewed their vote as a vote against Trump, while 48 percent of Republican voters said their vote was a vote for Trump, Pew Research found.

Democrats will regain chairmanship over key House committees: U.S. Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) is expected to lead the House Oversight and Government Reform committee and U.S. Rep Richard Neil (D-Massachusetts) the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Neil has told reporters he will request Trump to release his tax returns.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff will likely oversee the House Intelligence Committee – replacing U.S. Rep. David Nunes (R-California), who Cohen referred to as “a stooge of the White House.”  


“It’s the people’s House and has been the House of Trump and is now the House of the people as it was designed by our Constitution and our founding fathers.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.


Cohen said he expects House Democrats to restart the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee ended in March after their investigation found no evidence of collusion.

Further investigations are expected, Cohen said, into cyber security, voting rights, voter suppression and the Trump’s administration financial dealings and “areas where they have been unethical.”

Cohen, who was elected to Congress in 2006, has seen the Democrats as both the majority and minority party in the House during his tenure. He said the biggest difference when in the minority is about your message, but when in the majority, you can act on your message.

Minority House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who Cohen has supported strongly over the years, is expected to once again be elected as majority House speaker.

Cohen, who referred to Pelosi as “Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and LeBron James,” knows there are House Democrats who said they would not support her re-election as speaker, but expects she will be elected as she currently has no opponent.

“I think this should be her last term and she should groom a leader, but for this term we’ll have Trump and (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell and she’ll be the only Democrat at the table,” Cohen said. “In 2020, I envision a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate and it’ll be OK to have a new speaker, but for this term she’s the perfect person.”

Kustoff, who was elected for a second consecutive term, remains a staunch Trump supporter and is preparing for the shift in House power. Asked if he expected more House investigations into Trump’s administration, Kustoff said that will be up to the Democrats but hopes they will spend time on finding common ground on issues such as taxes and infrastructure.

“If the Democrats want to focus the majority of the time or all their time on investigations and impeachment, that’s not to the benefit of the American people,” he said. “The American people want a strong economy. They want to feel safe and secure. They want to see issues regarding opioids and health care addressed. I hope we’re productive on those issues and not debating Donald Trump’s tax returns.”

When Kustoff, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, arrived in the House in January 2017, Republicans had control of the House, Senate and presidency.


“If the Democrats want to focus the majority of the time or all their time on investigations and impeachment, that’s not to the benefit of the American people. The American people want a strong economy. They want to feel safe and secure. They want to see issues regarding opioids and health care addressed. I hope we’re productive on those issues and not debating Donald Trump’s tax returns.”
U.S. Rep. David Kustoff, R-Tenn.


Kustoff, who serves on the House Financial Services committee, praised the work of Congress during the last two years, citing an improving economy and 3.7 percent unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We’ve been very productive and passed a number of bills that have strengthened the economy,” he said. 

Kustoff, who represents the 8th Congressional District, said he still plans to work with Trump to help move his agenda forward. 

“Hopefully the majority in the House of Representatives will agree that we can find some issues that we can agree on and be productive for the American people,” Kustoff said.



Topics

Steve Cohen David Kustoff U.S. Congress Donald Trump
Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf is the county government reporter for The Daily Memphian. Omer was previously a reporter at The Jackson Sun and is a University of Memphis graduate.


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