In the wake of the midterm election, Democrats are now looking ahead to 2019 when they will officially regain control in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pennsylvania Democrats will send nine representatives to Congress, up from their current five-member delegation. 90.5 WESA's Lucy Perkins sat down with Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle to talk about his legislative goals and what he thought about the election results.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On Health Care In The 2018 Midterms:
It’s funny how the same issue that probably unseated 61 [Democrats] back in 2010 was the same issue that we basically won this election by. People finally understand what it means to go back to a system where insurance companies can discriminate against you because you're sick. Every Republican had become an instant convert to pre-existing conditions. It was remarkable to see the epiphany that occurred within that party once they realized the public got this.
On Investigating President Trump:
We want to have a sense that nobody has undue influence over our President. He has been reluctant to reveal his tax returns as every other president has done. This leads to suspicion – not so much [that] he has investments in other countries, but do other countries have investments in him? I think people have a right to know that.
Now, the House Ways and Means Committee has subpoena power to look at the President's tax returns, to see whether or not there's any potential conflicts that do exist that could impact our national security. When the President is strangely silent with the Saudis under the recent execution of a journalist in Turkey ... when the President seems unwilling or unable to have anything critical to say about Putin in Russia … it raises a certain amount of questions as to why that is … And Republicans, quite frankly, have been unwilling to exercise their oversight responsibilities on this President.
On Gun Safety Legislation:
How many tragedies have to happen – now one in our own city – before we can sit down as a country and say ‘aren't there some things we can agree upon?’
It's really hard to be optimistic about it, because we've been disappointed so many times when those young children were slaughtered [at Sandy Hook Elementary School] in Connecticut. I thought, "This is it. This is so horrific, so unthinkable, that you know we're gonna get something done."
My own city – the most horrific slaughter of Jews in the history of our country. I mean, good Lord, what more has to happen before we can talk? We don't even get a chance to vote on the bills. I would hope as the Democrats now control the House, that we at least put members on record. I don't think it's unfair to say to members of Congress: Where do you stand on registration? On closing these loopholes? Where do you stand on semi-automatic weapons and clips?
We just have moments of silence and then we do nothing. And that's what makes me crazy. That's why every time when the Speaker said, you know, "Please stand for a moment of silence," that I want to walk out of the chamber because I know what's going to happen after the moment's over. So I hope that changes in the House, we'll see. I'm pushing my party in that direction.
On Voting For Nancy Pelosi For Speaker Of The House:
I wish we had choices, but you can't beat someone with no one. So yes I do [support Pelosi]. I think at this time we need some stability in the party, too. My question is – if not Nancy, who? She's unopposed.
Nobody's worked harder than Nancy Pelosi for the party. Nobody's raised more money. Nobody spent their whole life, you know, in members' Congressional districts campaigning. For me it's a generational thing. There's a new generation of Democrats that are ready to assume the mantle and and they've been blocked from doing that. Why haven't these next generation of Democrats that want to lead show some leadership and put themselves out there?
Let me tell you something. [Speaker of the House] is a tough, thankless job. You give up whatever semblance of a family life you have to do this, because when you're not in session, your life is somebody else's. You're out in one of those congressional districts, or you're out raising money, or you're on the speaking circuit with the national news media. That's what these jobs entail. And you don't get a penny more to do it, and you get a whole bunch of grief because you've got your members of your party all of them expect that you know you lived to serve them. This isn't a job for a rookie. We need somebody that has the respect of the caucus and the gravitas to be in this type of position.
Now, is Nancy going to be there forever? No. I really believe this would be her final term as the Speaker. I see this really as a transition year.