Rep.-elect Ben McAdams says he wants to get to work on DACA, could vote for a Republican speaker over Nancy Pelosi

Rep.-elect Ben McAdams, D-Utah, has pledged to oppose Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid for another term as speaker of the House.

But with no alternative Democrat running yet to challenge Pelosi, D-Calif., does that mean McAdams would cross the aisle and support a Republican speaker?

“I guess we’ll have to see who is running,” McAdams said.

During a Wednesday interview with The Salt Lake Tribune’s “Trib Talk" podcast, McAdams said he intends to vote for someone as speaker rather than vote “present” — or abstaining — as some Pelosi critics are expected to do. But McAdams declined, or was unable, to specify who would carry his support during the upcoming leadership votes.

“It’s important to take a stand,” he said. “The Democratic Party wants to be the party of new ideas and inclusiveness. And I think it’s time to make way for new leaders.”

The full “Trib Talk” episode can be found at sltrib.com, or by searching for “Trib Talk” on most major podcast platforms.

While the state won’t finalize election results until next week, counties certified their results Tuesday, putting to rest a drawn-out back-and-forth between McAdams and two-term Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah. Early returns on Election Day showed McAdams with a narrow lead, and Love briefly pulled ahead in subsequent updates before the counting of provisional ballots sealed the win for the Democrat.

He finished with an edge of 694 votes, just outside the margin for a recount. Love has not yet conceded — publicly or privately to McAdams — and has scheduled a Monday news conference at the Utah Republican Party headquarters.

McAdams, Salt Lake County’s mayor, told “Trib Talk” that he’s eager to get to work, particularly on the subject of immigration. He spoke about a volunteer for his campaign who is one of the so-called “Dreamers” — or individuals brought into the country illegally as children. The volunteer, along with thousands of others, has undergone stress and uncertainty caused by President Donald Trump’s revocation of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, or DACA, which led to a yet-unresolved litigation.

“There’s a lot of pressure on those Dreamers, and we have failed them as a country — Congress has failed them,” McAdams said. “I’d love to see us move forward, as quickly as possible, a DACA fix.”

He said he’d also like to see consideration of the No Budget, No Pay Act, a proposal that would halt compensation of federal legislators if they are unable to enact a national budget.

Going years without passage of a budget — in recent years Congress has passed patchwork continuing resolutions — leads to wasteful spending and uncertainty, he said.

“If members of Congress don’t get a paycheck and can’t pay their mortgage, pay their rent or whatever, if they haven’t done their job,” McAdams said, “I think that’s fair and that may put their feet to the fire.”

After he is sworn in in January, McAdams will be the sole Democratic member of Utah’s federal delegation. That distinction means he will be Utah’s only member of the new House majority and uniquely affiliated in opposition to Trump.

“The team we’re on is Team Utah,” McAdams said of the delegation. “I think it actually will make for a good team having somebody in the Democratic caucus [and] somebody in the Republican caucus.”

He compared Trump to a difficult co-worker, saying he may not be a fan of the Trump administration but “the boss” expects them to work together. That means striving for collaboration when possible and providing oversight when necessary, McAdams said, but not becoming overwhelmed with “frivolous” investigations.

“I hope the Democrats don’t overreact,” McAdams said. “But I think it’s important that Congress is a check and balance.”

He credited a coalition of Republican, Democratic and independent voters for his election and said he intends to reflect that broad constituency in his legislative approach.

“When you’re a Democrat in Utah, I think you always have to be in touch with your district and the voters who voted for you,” McAdams said. “I’m going to stand for what I believe in — what I think is right — but also [going to be] reflective of the people who voted for me.”

The “Trib Talk” episode also includes McAdams' yes-or-no responses to a list of policy questions. The congressman-elect said he supports decriminalization of medical marijuana but opposes decriminalization of recreational pot.

He also said he supports both universal background checks for gun purchases and individual ownership of assault rifles, supports elimination of the 1-cent coin, supports a minimum-wage increase and legal protections for special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The work of Robert Mueller needs to move forward unimpeded,” McAdams said. “There’s some outstanding questions that need to be answered.”

McAdams said he is opposed to a wall along the southern U.S. border, the reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and the relaxation of air and water pollution regulations.

The full “Trib Talk” episode can be found at sltrib.com, or by searching for “Trib Talk” on most major podcast platforms.