- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2019

A new Pew Research Center analysis reveals that 88 percent of the members of the 116th Congress are Christian. This finding prompted the pollster to declare that “Christians are overrepresented in Congress.” But let us examine the numbers. Of that 88 percent, 55 percent of the lawmakers are Protestant, 30 percent Catholic, 13 percent Baptist, 8 percent Methodist, and 5 percent each say they are Episcopalian, Presbyterian or Lutheran.

The analysis is based on CQ Roll Call data, which tallied the religious affiliations of the lawmakers through questionnaires or phone interviews.

“In the 116th Congress, just two of the 253 GOP members do not identify as Christian: Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee are Jewish,” the analysis says.

“By contrast, 61 of the 281 Democrats do not identify as Christian. More than half of the 61 are Jewish (32), and 18 decline to specify a religious affiliation. Congressional Democrats also include Hindus (3), Muslims (3), Buddhists (2), Unitarian Universalists (2) and one religiously unaffiliated member.”

Then there are the new folks.



“The new, 116th Congress has the largest freshman class since 2011 — 97 new members join 437 incumbents. Of the new members, fully 81 percent identify as Christians. While this is lower than the Christian share of incumbents, it is still higher than the share of U.S. adults who are Christian (71 percent),” the Pew Research analysis said.

THE PELOSI PRESS

Weary of gridlock and fed up with the proverbial “do-nothing Congress,” voters are waiting for something productive to happen on Capitol Hill. Pesky political posturing and melodrama, however, seem to be the order of the day, just as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has regained her grip on the gavel. The news media is only too happy to set the tone and guide the agenda, though. A few select headlines in the aftermath of the big change:

“The freshman class of House Democrats is already making waves” (The Los Angeles Times); “Enter the House of Pelosi” (The Wall Street Journal); “How to talk so Trump will listen: A GOP guide for Pelosi” (Politico); “What House Democrats should do with their majority” (Bloomberg); “Trump’s sexist playbook won’t work against all these powerful women” (Huffington Post); “Nancy Pelosi is open to a Trump indictment” (The Week); “The people’s house: A new beginning” (The Washington Post); “‘Winter is coming’: Meet the 10 Democrats who are about to make Trump’s life a living hell” (Salon).

THE $19 MILLION VOW OF LOYALTY

A brief update on an extraordinary crowdfunding effort to help President Trump build the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. “The Trump Wall” GoFundMe outreach is nearing $19 million in donations, accrued in 17 days, and donated by 311,000 people.

There’s also a public petition for those who back the effort, organized by military veteran Brian Kolfage, who also launched the GoFundMe effort.

“The wall is being built! We are releasing full plan next week! We have full backing from people you love and trust! It’s happening! Sign your name below letting politicians know you want the wall,” advises the petition, which already bears 3.6 million signatures.

“We are building the wall. We no longer need the government,” it states.

HOLD THAT LINE

They’ve done the math and examined the political subtleties. Now one news organization is urging President Trump to hold the line on his determination to obtain $5 billion to shore up the southern border.

“The government could cover Trump’s $5 billion request many times over simply by rooting out a small portion of the taxpayer money federal agencies waste either through incompetence, duplication or outright fraud. In one year alone, Medicare wastes almost 10 times what Trump is asking for, because of what are euphemistically called ‘improper payments,’ according to the Government Accountability Office,” notes a new Investors Business Daily editorial.

“The Mercatus Center found that Medicaid, the federal unemployment insurance program, and the Earned Income Tax Credit each waste more in one year than the $5 billion Trump wants for his wall. The GAO found that the government spends about $18 billion a year on 47 job training programs scattered across nine federal agencies — none of which could demonstrate their effectiveness,” the editorial continued.

It also points out that the ongoing government shutdown of federal agencies suggests that “huge portions of their workers are nonessential,” and that the public is not noticing any differences despite the shutdown.

“Even liberals admit, as did National Public Radio, that the practical impact is most Americans won’t really feel this,” the editorial said.

The president can use this to his advantage.

“By hanging tough, Trump can make serious gains on border security, while at the same time exposing the vast amounts of wasteful spending in the federal government. That’s what we’d call a win-win. If Trump folds, on the other hand, he will roil his base and gain nothing in return from Democrats, except derision for being a loser at the bargaining table,” the editorial advises.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: Annefield, built in 1858 on 190 acres near Saxe, Virginia. Italianate-style villa on the National Register of Historic Places; “flawlessly preserved,” but modernized and expanded in 2005. Three bedrooms, three baths, formal parlor, library, dining and living rooms; 4,124 square feet. Center hall and 11-foot ceilings. Original heart pine floors, glass, woodworking, cabinetry, numerous outbuildings including smokehouse. Creek, ponds, formal garden, mature trees, open fields and mature hardwood forests.

Priced at $1.4 million through Annefieldplantation.com.

POLL DU JOUR

40 percent of Americans say illegal immigration is a “very serious problem”; 73 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

22 percent say illegal immigration is a “somewhat serious problem”; 19 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of independents and 26 percent of Democrats agree.

24 percent say illegal immigration is a “minor problem”; 5 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

7 percent say illegal immigration is “not a problem”; 2 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

6 percent are unsure; 1 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of independents and 4 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 30-Jan. 1.

Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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