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Political leaders are preparing for stalemate and investigations in the next Congress

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Future leaders of both major parties are already gearing up for messy battles in the next session of Congress, with critical funding issues and investigations looming.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.), who is so far an unopposed candidate to become the senior House Democrat, said Sunday he favors raising the debt ceiling before the GOP takes over the House on Jan. 3 to prevent current Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from using the debt ceiling as leverage for a range of other issues.

“Kevin McCarthy has said he is willing to blow up the American economy, default our country’s debt to try to take away Social Security and health care for tens of millions of Americans,” Jeffries said on CNN’s “State of the Union”. “That’s incredibly reckless.”

Jeffries said he hasn’t spoken to McCarthy since the election, but added that he has “a much warmer relationship” with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 Republican in the House.

On Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” McCarthy, who is seeking the gavel as speaker in the House, seemed determined to avoid any collaboration with the Democrats.

“We set a goal,” he said. “To stop the Biden agenda, get the majority and fire Nancy Pelosi. We just achieved all three.”

Even before the new Congress is sworn in, the race for the 2024 presidential campaign was on with former President Donald Trump’s announcement last Tuesday that he would run again.

Former Vice President Mike Pence appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and championed Trump’s record.

“I do not join those who would reject the four years of our administration and all that we have accomplished for the American people,” he said. Pence, a likely candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination, was noncommittal about his intentions.

I’ll keep you posted if I’m going to run or not. But I do think we’ll have better choices,” Pence told host Chuck Todd.

However, former House speaker Paul D. Ryan was unequivocal about his views on Trump’s flight.

“I think what we know now, it’s pretty clear, is that with Trump, we’re losing.” Ryan said. “We’re getting past Trump, we’re starting to win elections,” he said, calling himself “a Trumper never again.”

Even if House Republicans face a stalemate with Senate Democrats when it comes to passing legislation, many have said they will conduct extensive oversight hearings and delay Democrat initiatives.

When asked if Democrats would defend President Biden in light of investigations Republicans are expected to conduct next year, Jeffries said Democrats would try to “cooperate” with Republicans “legislatively” but push back against “MAGA extremism”.

“We will absolutely defend the Biden administration and its record when it comes under attack from people who try to politicize our government responsibilities, no question,” he said.

Democrats also defended Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision Friday to appoint special counsel to investigate Trump in an effort to isolate these cases from politics.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” hailed the move as “the right thing to do.” But he added that he was concerned that the Justice Department had been “really slow” and hoped the special prosecutor would speed up the investigation.

Schiff also said he wouldn’t be surprised if McCarthy fulfilled his vow to strip Schiff of his position on the House Intelligence Committee. He said it was a sign of weakness.

“I suspect he will do anything [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wants him to do it,” Schiff said. “He is a very weak leader of his conference, which means he will abide by the wishes of the lowest common denominator. And if that lowest common denominator wants to remove people from committees, they will.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and a member of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol bombing, also said McCarthy would succumb to the far right elements of the the GOP, especially Greene.

“First, she’s getting new powers,” he said. And the fact that she’s supporting Kevin McCarthy means he’s promised her a lot. Trust me, that’s how this business works.”

Some lawmakers also defended the Biden administration’s decision to repeat past precedent and grant immunity to Mohammed bin Salman, now Saudi Arabia’s prime minister — despite his alleged involvement in the gruesome 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist living in the United States.

“It would have been a big break from those customs not to grant that kind of immunity,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“What I would say is that Saudi Arabia is far from the world’s worst human rights violator,” Cotton said. He pointed to Iran for suppressing street protesters and China for what he called “genocide” against religious and ethnic minorities.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) also supported the decision.

‘Do I think the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is terrible? Absolutely, absolutely,” Warner said. “But we have to be realistic enough to realize that Saudi Arabia has been a bulwark against Iran. It is a leader in a very messy part of the world.”

But Schiff said he opposed granting immunity in light of Khashoggi’s murder and mutilation.

“We should value life, not oil, and I think this is a tragic decision,” he said.

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