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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 23, 2018, with Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel. Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

Congressional Democrats are going to have a prime seat at the national security table for the first time in eight years. Poised to take control of critical House committees are Eliot Engel (Foreign Affairs), Adam Smith (Armed Services), Nita Lowey (Appropriations) and Adam Schiff (Intelligence).

What to watch: House Democrats will likely focus on defining policy differences with President Trump — on climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, international alliances and human rights. How they advance this agenda will have a decisive impact on whether Democrats can turn national security into a winning issue ahead of the 2020 elections.

The details: Backing up the new chairmen will be a dynamic set of new members with deep national security experience, such as Abigail Spanberger (CIA), Elissa Slotkin (Defense Department) and Tom Malinowski (State Department). New progressive representatives will advocate for policies that speak directly to their personal backgrounds, such as Ilhan Omar (Somali-American, Muslim and former refugee) and Rashida Tlaib (Palestinian-American and Muslim).

House Democrats will also expand oversight of Russia issues and the nature of Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin; the ongoing military conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan; Trump’s Iran policy; and the state of America’s shrinking diplomatic corps.

Crucially, controversial oversight issues may prove the wildcard in the next Congress. For example, the ambush in Niger that killed four American servicemen earlier this year received almost no Congressional attention, despite its echo of the Benghazi attacks. Now, Congressional Democrats will have their turn to ask pointed questions.

The bottom line: After being relegated to the back bench for nearly a decade on national security, Democrats are now in the driver’s seat. They will have a lot to balance: how to put pressure on Trump; how to demonstrate a vision for America’s role in the world; and how to prepare the ground for 2020.

Joel Rubin is the president of the Washington Strategy Group and the former deputy assistant secretary of state for the House of Representatives.

Go deeper

More than a dozen injured in downtown Austin shooting

Police tape in Austin, Texas in 2018. Photo: y Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A shooting in a busy part of downtown Austin, Texas, early Saturday injured at least 13 people, including two who are in critical condition.

The state of play: Gunfire erupted around 1:30 a.m. along 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants. The suspected shooter remains at large, Austin police said. "It is unknown if there is one, or multiple suspects involved," they noted, adding the shooting appears to be an isolated incident.

Biden to urge G7 to take unified approach to countering China

Photo: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Saturday is expected to urge fellow G7 leaders to adopt a unified approach to countering China's rising global influence, AP reports.

Driving the news: The G7 leaders are set to unveil a multi-billion-dollar global infrastructure plan aimed at rivaling Beijing's efforts in the developing world.

Why America's post-vaccine summer is off to a slow start

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are itching to put pandemic life behind them, but many of the necessary ingredients for a summer of carefree fun — everything from neighborhood pools to car rentals — still aren't fully available.

The big picture: Labor shortages, scrambled supply chains and simple logistics are all making it harder for a whole range of businesses to meet post-pandemic demand, and that’s making “hot vax summer” a little harder to pull off.