With Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are now poised to come into some pretty powerful roles in the House. WGBH Radio’s Investigations Editor Paul Singer took a look ahead on these potential leadership shifts in the House. He discussed them with WGBH All Things Considered anchor Barbara Howard. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.
Barbara Howard: Let's start with Congressman Richard Neal, in Massachusetts’ 1st District, in the western part of Massachusetts. He looks like he is going to be heading up the House Ways and Means Committee, is that right?
Paul Singer: Right. It's a very important position with a lot of legislative responsibilities. But the first thing he's going to be doing is asking the president for his tax returns. He's already said he's going to do it.
Howard: And that's not the only thing he's talking about doing?
Singer: There's a whole list of agenda items that the Ways and Means chairman has a lot of authority over, not the least of which is looking again at President Trump's tax cuts. You could argue that some of the health care law, the Obamacare law, operates underneath the Ways and Means Committee’s jurisdiction. So there's an awful lot he will be doing other than asking for those returns, but this is going to be making the headlines.
Howard: Congressman Jim McGovern in the 2nd District, in central Massachusetts - he could have a powerful position, too. Is that right?
Singer: Well, he could become the chairman of the Rules Committee, and the Rules Committee is one of those things that only people in Washington love. It is basically the way the Speaker controls legislation on the floor. The Rules Committee has to set the rule for every single bill that hits the floor.
Howard: OK, so Richard Neal, Jim McGovern, nobody really from the eastern part of the state. This is kind of unusual, that these leaders will be from the western or central Massachusetts?
Singer: Part of that, of course, comes from just seniority. You've got newer members of Congress on the eastern side and the sort of more established members from the west.
Howard: Well Congressman Mike Capuano would have had a senior position had he not lost that primary to Boston city councilor Ayanna Pressley, right?
Singer: Yeah, he may have been a senior member of a transportation committee or something, but I believe that is a trade that any Massachusetts Democrat would take . That is, Mike Capuano as ranking member of a committee, or Democrats take back the House.
Howard: What about Nancy Pelosi? She could take up the gavel again as House Speaker, but there has been talk among Democrats in Congress, including Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, of replacing Nancy Pelosi. What do you think of that?
Singer: That's been kicking around for at least six years, this talk of replacing Nancy Pelosi as the head of the party. And look, we have to recognize that the Democrats took back the majority largely on the strength of young African-American women candidates, and the leadership of the Democratic Party is not young by any stretch of the imagination. Only one African-American member is in leadership post. Nancy Pelosi, of course, as a woman, would be the Speaker. But it may be time for the Democrats to look at some way to represent that crowd, that sort of revolutionary movement that gave them back the gavel.
Howard: That's WGBH Radio's Investigations Editor Paul Singer. He's telling us about the likely roles that members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation will have, with Democrats gaining the majority in the House of Representatives. This is WGBH’s All Things Considered.