WASHINGTON (WAVY/AP) — The 116th Congress began in Washington, D.C. Thursday afternoon with parts of the federal government still shutdown.
It’s been 13 days since funding ran out for several agencies.
As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill for high-stakes negotiations, there are some new faces in the mix. That includes Democrat Elaine Luria, who is the Hampton Roads area’s only freshman representative in the new Congress.
Big day of firsts at the U.S. Capitol: Picked up my House voting card, congressional pin, spouse’s pin, and cast initial votes for #VA02. Ready to go in the 116th Congress! pic.twitter.com/WyKTMPySq8— Representative Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) January 3, 2019
Luria beat Republican incumbent Scott Taylor for the 2nd District seat in November. She was sworn in Thursday surrounded by her children, family and friends.
“I think it’s great, because you’re allowed to take your children on the floor. So, it will be a very special experience. My daughter, Violet, is nine. It will be very special for her and for me to be there on the floor as I’m sworn in,” she told 10 On Your Side in a phone interview.
Luria says she requested to be part of House committees including Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs.
Democrats took control of the House in the November midterms elections, and plan to use the power shift to try and re-open the government.
The shutdown has left hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay. This includes approximately 42,000 active-duty military members of the Coast Guard.
Luria says it’s a top priority to make sure federal employees will be paid.
“The way the current bill is written it does re-open the government. It funds all of the critical agencies and in a separate piece of legislation there is a continuing resolution being proposed for the Department of Homeland Security for one month through Feb. 8,” she explains. “It’s all been decoupled nothing to do with the border wall should have any affect on getting the government back up and running.”
Luria is confident the vote will be successful.
“It’s a new congress. It’s time to send the bill back and get the government open again. No reason to believe it shouldn’t go forward in both the House and the Senate,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said Wednesday he will not support a bill that President Donald Trump will not approve.
“The legislation that House Democrats are reporting reportedly planning to introduce and be voted on tomorrow will not be a serious contribution to the negotiations that are going on between the administration and the incoming Democratic majority in the house. It isn’t comprehensive. It ignores the needs of border security,” said McConnell.
The Associated Press reports Trump met with congressional leaders on Wednesday, but neither side budged. Leaders are expected to meet again on Friday.