House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday laid out an early legislative agenda that Democrats are hoping will distinguish the party's priorities from those of the Republicans heading into the new Congress.
In a letter to her troops, the California Democrat outlined the party's focus at the launch of the 2016 presidential cycle, including efforts to increase working class wages, hike infrastructure spending and eliminate tax breaks for companies that move their headquarters overseas.
The package will formally be unveiled on Tuesday.
Pelosi’s priorities for her caucus line up with those of President Obama, who signaled an interest in working with Republicans on tax reform and infrastructure spending during a meeting last month with incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Notably absent from Pelosi’s priorities, however, was anything on trade. The Obama administration is hoping to win congressional approval of fast-track, which would make it easier for the White House to complete two pending trade deals. The issue divides Democrats, with many blaming free trade for holding back the wages of the working class.
In her letter, Pelosi also touted the CEO/Employee Pay Fairness Act, which she said will boost workers' pay by “denying CEOs the ability to claim tax deductions on income over $1 million unless they give their employees a well-deserved raise.”
The minority House Democrats enter the 114th Congress having lost 13 seats in November's midterm elections, further reducing their already limited options for moving their agenda. Still, party leaders are hoping that by promoting legislation aimed at boosting the middle class, voters will respond at the polls in 2016.
Pelosi, who ran uncontested for minority leader after November's elections, also used Monday's letter to urge Democrats to support her in this week's vote for House Speaker, which is scheduled for Tuesday. That vote is largely symbolic — Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump, GOP fumble chance to govern ObamaCare gets new lease on life Ryan picks party over country by pushing healthcare bill MORE (R-Ohio) is almost certain to keep his position atop the majority Republicans — but party defectors can prove an embarrassment on both sides of the aisle and both parties are trying to minimize them ahead of the vote.
Last year, five Democrats voted against Pelosi. Of those, only Reps. Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) and Jim Cooper (Tenn.) will be sworn in as members of the 114th Congress.
Neither Lipinski's nor Cooper's office responded Monday to requests for comment about Tuesday's vote.