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Al Lawson, John Rutherford expect radical change after House flip

The two Congressmen representing Jacksonville, Democrat Al Lawson and Republican John Rutherford, have become friends in the last two years.

Lawson, whose 5th Congressional District sprawls from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, emphasizes working across the aisle, and in a Republican-held House that has been a useful strategy, especially for the Republican power structure that controls Jacksonville at every level.

Rutherford, whose CD 4 includes Jacksonville and many of its suburbs, has been an enthusiastic booster of President Donald Trump.

Both men won handily Tuesday. Rutherford beat Democrat Ges Selmont, Lawson defeated Democrat Virginia Fuller.

However, both men told Florida Politics before the election what a flip may portend.

“One thing I’ve learned after almost two years in Washington, D.C., in the House of Representatives: You never want to be in the minority party,” Rutherford noted. “It makes it very difficult to get your agenda accomplished.

“What concerns me the most about the House flipping: the Democrats control all the committees,” Rutherford said. “I think the investigations into some of the wrongdoing in the FBI and other investigations will stop. And I’m concerned about them (not) carrying forward with securing the border, and getting health care.”

Rutherford isn’t worried, however, that impeaching the President will actually happen — contrary to Democratic talking points.

“Impeachment isn’t going to go anywhere,” Rutherford said. “It may go somewhere in the House. But it certainly will never go anywhere in the Senate.” (The House only votes to bring charges against a president; the Senate hears the case and must vote by two-thirds to convict.)

“It’s a horrible distraction for the American public,” Rutherford added, “when what we should be focused on is security, the economy, fixing our infrastructure, and getting our health care right.

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“But for one vote by Sen. John McCain, we could have fixed health care. We had our opportunity. And now we’re going to have to pick that back up,” Rutherford said.

Regarding the issue of birthright citizenship, which sees outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan doubting that President Trump can revoke that with an executive order, Rutherford noted that “this conversation about whether these babies should be granted citizenship has been happening for decades.”

“What the President is saying,” Rutherford added, “is let’s get a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court on what this says. And the best way to force that is through an Executive Order.”

Lawson, whose party looks poised to take control of Congress, noted that “if we’re in the majority, everything changes.”

“The President’s going to have to learn to work more with the House to get his legislation through. Many of us will be in leadership roles. I’m getting calls from members all over talking about what they want to do,” Lawson said.

“Hopefully, if it flips, we will have cooperation between the House and the Senate so we can get legislation done. It doesn’t make any sense for us to be fighting. The American people didn’t send us up there not to get the job done.”

Lawson doesn’t believe, meanwhile, that impeachment will actually happen.

“You have some of those members who always talk about impeachment,” Lawson noted. “But the President hasn’t committed a high crime.”

“We need to start working with each other. The (2016) election is over, and now it’s time to get to work,” Lawson said.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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