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What Democrats And Republicans Hope To See In The Next Congress


As we've been hearing, tonight could be a pivotal moment for Democrats. They have a chance to take back control of the U.S. House for the first time in nearly a decade. If Republicans retain control, they can further President Trump's agenda. We spoke to representatives from both parties about their priorities should they take control of the chamber come January.


First we'll hear from Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois. As co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, it's her job to help develop the party's message. And she said it goes something like this.

CHERI BUSTOS: Please put your faith back in us. And if you do that, we will show you that we can deliver results that matter to you, things that you care about for your families, like bringing down the cost of health care and prescription drug prices, things like rebuilding our country again and having a real trillion-dollar infrastructure package, and lastly, cleaning up the mess in Washington D.C. that is just out of control right now.

CHANG: Bustos also said that if her party takes the House, the Democratic base would expect it to use its authority to launch investigations and even pursue impeachment.

BUSTOS: If we use the truth to guide us, and we operate with the mentality that this should all be transparent and that we hold everybody accountable, whether it's in the administration, whether it's members of Congress, whoever - members of the administration, as long as we use transparency, accountability and truth as our guiding light, I think that's fair. It - my personal opinion is that we need to wait for Robert Mueller's investigation to be completed. But the - after Democrats win back the majority, we have three very able incoming chairmen of the Judiciary, of the Intel Committee and of Oversight. They are smart people. They are fair people. And the truth will guide them.

CORNISH: That was Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. We also spoke with Tom Rooney, Republican congressman from Florida. He's retiring this year after a decade serving in the House of Representatives. His prediction? Republicans will keep control of the House.

TOM ROONEY: I think we're going to keep it by just less than a handful of members. But I just cannot believe that with the economy being so strong that people would go in - to use a football analogy - at halftime and change the coach when you're winning the game. But if we do lose the House, then that is certainly a statement on the president and the turnout and the sort of reaction to his first two years even though the economy's good.

CHANG: Rooney did say his party is changing. And it may change further, regardless of whether the GOP keeps control of the House.

ROONEY: You know, growing up under Reagan and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and being a Jack Kemp conservative and the traditional things but not necessarily singing the same tunes that maybe the president was in his election - which oftentimes, especially when you talk about things like entitlement reform, were completely at odds, or - you just sort of questioned where your place was in the party and in politics.

And so I think that's why you see a lot of more traditional conservatives stepping back just because, you know, Trump is extremely popular. So unless you're willing to hold that banner 100 percent, people would really be angry at you. And so in my case, I think it was just better to let somebody else that was willing to do that take the banner and run with it.

CORNISH: Retiring Congressman Tom Rooney, a Republican from Florida. We also heard from Representative Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.