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Pelosi: A voting and ethics measure is ‘first on the agenda’ of the new Congress.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Friday signaled that in the opening days of the new Congress, House Democrats would revisit their ambitious legislation to toughen ethics and lobbying restrictions, undo barriers to voting and reduce the influence of money in politics.

That legislation — denoted H.R. 1 in a sign of its importance to the Democratic caucus — cleared the House on a party-line vote in the opening days of the 116th Congress, but was not given a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. Its prospects next year were unclear, as the Democrats’ hopes to win control of the Senate were dimming.

Ms. Pelosi said the legislation “will be the first on the agenda,” speaking at her weekly news conference, but acknowledged the political realities of a likely divided government.

She also raised infrastructure legislation as one of the instances where the two parties could find a compromise and successfully pass laws in divided government.

“We have a responsibility to find our common ground,” Ms. Pelosi said.

With tens of millions of people still suffering from the ongoing toll of the pandemic and the federal government set to run out of money on Dec. 11 without congressional action, Ms. Pelosi insisted that she wanted to see another relief package and an omnibus spending package become law before Christmas and the end of the current Congress.

“We want the Republicans to come back to the table,” Ms. Pelosi said of the coronavirus relief negotiations, which stalled again in the days leading up to the election. But she dismissed Republicans’ renewed push for a scaled-down package, saying, “It doesn’t appeal to me at all because they still have not agreed to crush the virus.”

The House speaker also said she had not spoken to Joseph R. Biden Jr., who by Friday was leading in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and had nearly doubled his lead in Nevada. She suggested the two were unlikely to speak about the traditional transition steps before a winner was declared.

“He’s so wonderful in that way,” Ms. Pelosi said, calling him a “beautiful, appropriate person.”

Ms. Pelosi’s news conference came less than 24 hours after Democrats traded blame during a caucus meeting held by telephone over losing some House seats in this week’s elections. On Thursday, she defended the Democratic’s Party’s efforts to make gains in the House and Senate on the first caucus conversation since Election Day.

“We did not win every battle, but we did win the war,” Ms. Pelosi said.

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