Record number of women enter US Congress as shutdown continues

World Today

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California holds the gavel after at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A historic day here in Washington for the opening of the 116th Congress.

A record number of women were sworn into office as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives.

CGTN’s Nathan King has more.

History being made, Nancy Pelosi now the most powerful woman in Washington, head of a party which has a record number of women, people of color and other minorities. Elected during the midterm elections, this Congress is vowing to be very different from the previous Republican-controlled House.

“We have important work to do in this Congress. We have to address the disparity of income in our country, we have to address climate crisis and what that means in terms of environmental justice in our country,” Pelosi said.

Despite the celebratory atmosphere, these are dark times in Washington-nine government departments shut down and 800,000 government workers either working without pay, or at home, without paychecks hostage to the standoff over border security and whether the U.S. president will get funding to build his controversial wall on the Mexican border.

Just after Pelosi took up the speakers gavel, the U.S. President appeared at the White House briefing room he congratulated her and offered warm words.

“I want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected speaker of the House. A very, very great achievement,” Trump said.

But flanked by border security agents who all spoke in favor of the Wall, the U.S. president, once again, pressed his case.

“Without a wall, you cannot have border security without a strong form of barrier. Call it what you will, but without a wall you cannot have border security, it won’t work,” Trump said.

But in the U.S. political system, Congress controls the cash and the U.S. president knows that he will have to reach a deal. Two years into his presidency, Donald Trump’s reputation as a dealmaker will be put to the test.

The White House has offered to discuss a way forward, but there is little talk of compromise, just yet.

View images from the first day of the 116th House of Representatives. Rep. Nancy Pelosi was elected speaker ushering in Democratic control of the House for the first time in eight years.

(Click on image to enlarge)