The AARO communications team wanted to see what mood the major parties were in the day after the election. So Ellen Lebelle went to the Democrats Abroad France meeting in Paris on November 7. Here is her report.
The meeting was held at the Joe Allen bar/restaurant in Paris, and the room was packed . The evening's key speakers were Democrat Abroad leaders Amy Below, Jonathan Holler, Joe Smallhoover, and Ada Shen.
Jonathan Holler, the event host, kicked off the evening by congratulating all of the DA members who had worked so hard on: getting out the vote, contacting voters, and holding election events. And he announced the creation of a new entity, a Paris chapter of Democrats Abroad France.
Democrats Abroad France will continue to be run by its executive committee dispersed throughout the country. However, Paris-based activities will be now be carried out by the new chapter. Jonathan and Amy Below will co-chair the new chapter's steering committee.
Getting out the Vote
Ada Shen chaired the successful "Get out the Vote" efforts. DAF helped over 600 people request ballots between March and the November election. (AARO also assisted about 500 people request ballots.) They sent postcards to every registered Florida voter in France, and used phone banks to urge Americans in France to vote.
The Democrats are satisfied with the results. Joe Smallhoover announced the numbers, as we had them as of 19:00 on November 7. Nonetheless, there were still 21 unannounced seats. Some races could not be called until all absentee ballots were counted. There were also some contested elections, with recounts being requested.
In addition to the federal elections, Democrats now have half of the governerships in the United States, including in states like Kansas. Joe applauded the 3,000 women candidates who ran for state and local positions. In all the elections, even the ones lost by the Democrats, he remarked on the tight races. Amy Below said that this was setting the stage for the US elections in 2020.
The Republicans held on to 51 seats in the Senate and the Democrats held on to 45; there were 4 seats still pending. Of the 33 seats up for election in the Senate, the majority were already Democrat-held seats.
The Democrats have won the House of Representatives. Joe shared the agenda for the new House:
- Create a rule on conflict of interest to not allow sitting members of Congress to hold positions on corporate boards.
- Define the emoluments clause.
- Reactivate the Voting Rights Act.
- Enact a law requiring the states to set up independent commissions to oversee the re-districting for Federal elections.
- Repair the damage done to the Affordable Care Act.
- Pass an "Equality Act".
- Create real infrastructure projects, with funding.
What Control of the House Means
Amy explained what this victory means. The 116th House of Representatives will have a Democratic majority, which means a Democratic Speaker of the House. Several Democrats who won campaigned with a promise not to support Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. (Editor's note: Nancy Pelosi has been elected Speaker of the House.) Democrats will also chair all of the House committees, with the likely distribution to be:
- Adam Schiff - Intelligence. This will entail the review and expansion of the Russian interference in the 2016 investigation.
- Maxine Waters - Financial Services. This will allow the subpoena of the President's tax and bank records.
- Elijah Cummings - House Oversight. This will permit the investigation into Scott Pruitt and into Jared Kushner's security clearance.
- Jerry Nadler - House Judiciary. This could mean an investigation into Brett Kavanaugh and his rapid confirmation.
Connie Borde announced a candlelight vigil on Saturday, November 10 at the Place des Etats-Unis. Democrats Abroad, as an organization, would not be participating in the anti-Trump demonstrations on November 11 because of the commemoration of the end of World War I. Democrats Abroad will lay wreaths at three military cemetaries, as they also do on Memorial Day.
This article was contributed by Ellen Lebelle.