Congressional Democrats “are getting more done in two weeks than the U.S. Senate has done in the last year,” said one vulnerable freshman, Representative Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, adding, “The heart of the Democratic Party right now is the Democratic Congress in the House of Representatives.”
With time running out before the end of the legislative year — the House is scheduled to finish its work by Dec. 20 — Democrats are in a rush to get everything done. There is likely to be a vote on the defense bill in the House on Wednesday or Thursday, with the final passage expected next week in the Senate so that the bill can be sent to Mr. Trump. Next week in the House, there will be back-to-back votes on impeachment and the trade bill, most likely in that order. Democrats and Republicans must reach a deal on federal spending in time to take a vote to avert a government shutdown.
“We want to leave on a positive message,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the Democratic leader, adding, “We need to keep the trains moving if we’re going to get out of here on the 20th having done what we want to get done.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said on Tuesday that the Senate would not take up the trade pact until next year — after the impeachment trial expected in January.
But Mr. Trump is almost certain to move quickly to sign the defense bill, which authorizes a 3 percent pay raise for the troops and creates funding for a new space force, a high priority of the president. That brings the specter of a White House signing ceremony at the precise moment Democrats are impeaching him — perhaps, if tradition holds, with Ms. Pelosi at his side.
Democrats are already highlighting that as a win — the first time that “paid family medical leave for millions of federal workers, including military families, will be the law of the land,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in an interview.
When Ms. Pelosi became speaker in January, Democrats sought to pursue a triangulation strategy of circumventing the Republican-led Senate to work directly with the White House on issues like prescription drugs and infrastructure. Democrats thought they might replicate what happened in 2018, before they took the majority, when they worked with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, on an overhaul of criminal justice laws.