What the Democrats left on the table

The GOP-led 118th Congress is shaping up to be a rocky one. Here's what experts say Democrats could have gotten done last year when they had the chance.

A sad donkey.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images)

After a bruising — and portentous — speaker's battle in the opening days of the new year, the 118th Congress is finally off and running, with the newly installed Republican House majority already promising a major (and majorly contentious) agenda for the coming years. And while Democrats may have seemed content to sit back and enjoy the GOP's circular firing squad attempts to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker, the truth is that being the minority party means they're now relegated firmly to the passenger's seat when it comes to actually legislating — if Republicans let them in the car at all.

Compounding the normal frustrations with no longer having control over a chamber of Congress is the fact that, for Democrats, this coming term is an ending of sorts — a line of demarcation after which House Dems can look back with 20/20 hindsight at the missed legislative opportunities from their time in the majority. Here are some of the things the Democrats punted on that could come back to haunt them this term:

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Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.