Iraq: Why can't Dems in Congress get a grip?

There are all sorts of reasons and excuses that could be offered for the less than stellar performance of the Dems in Congress on the Iraq question.

I've been inclined to sympathy (more, perhaps, than some in the lefty sphere) for a party that was in the minority for the last 12 years having been in the majority (in the House, at least) for forty in dealing with so intractable and politically sensitive subject, too.

Plus - we all know it's not a parliamentary system, and all that jazz.

However, I'd genuinely (really) be fascinated to learn why the Dems have fumbled the handling of the Iraq issue in the last few days.

Both the Post (here) and the Times (here (I) and here (II)) have write-ups.

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who will/should the Dems appoint? [Poll]

The Dems have agreed to participate in the Bush's Iraq Advisory Group.  Initially, Pelosi and Reid rejected the idea because Bush insisted on choosing the democratic members who would constitute the group.  In exchange for allowing the Dems to choose the members of their delegation who would form the group, they agreed to participate.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2007/01/30/AR2007013001085. html

This is a critical decision that will let us know how committed the leadership is the withdrawing from Iraq.  One question is whether Lieberman will be allowed by the Democratic leadership to be member of the group....interesting politics.

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Minimum wage bill - tax sweeteners unconstitutional?

The minimum wage bill HR 2 arrived yesterday on the Senate floor - a rather different milieu to whence it had come!

No closed rule, of course; and Uncle Harry needing to reach across the aisle and stroke egos as a prerequisite to getting the bill passed.

There is a substitute (SA 100) - which is the bill as passed by the House, plus the Baucus-Grassley tax sweeteners in the form of the text of S 349, the Small Business and Work Opportunity Act (information on, and previous drafts of, which can be found at this Finance Committee page).

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Pelosi and energy: ethanol and select committee woes

I've looked before at the politics of Pelosi's proposal to set up a select committee on global warming (EIGW); the Postthis morning fills in some details (and on A1, too!):

The House Democrats had not quite finished their "100 hours" agenda when they met in the Capitol basement Thursday morning, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) was already looking ahead...For her next act, she planned to take on global warming.

Democrats, she explained, had to show a sense of urgency about the carbon emissions that threaten the planet, and so she was creating a select committee on energy independence and climate change to communicate that urgency. The new committee, she said, would help the caucus speak with one voice -- even if it trampled the turf of existing committees.

Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), a close Pelosi ally, raised his gavel and asked whether anyone had anything else to say, in the same pro forma way that question is posed at weddings. "One, do I hear anything?" he asked. "Two do I hear, 2 1/2 do I hear, three." Emanuel's gavel came down. "The caucus meeting is over."

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Analyzing the First 100 Hours

Bumped - Matt

This week the House of Representatives finished its "First 100 Hours" agenda in a total of 42 legislative hours.  They passed 6 bills they'd laid out as their initial priorities (Speaker Pelosi has declared her intention to have the House produce and pass global warming legislation by July 4th), and I wanted to take a look back on who voted how on these bills.

HR 1, implementing most 9/11 Commission recommendations (vote)
HR 2, minimum wage increase (vote)
HR 3, stem cell research (vote)
HR 4, negotiating Rx drug prices (vote)
HR 5, student loan interest rates (vote)
HR 6, repealing Big Oil tax breaks (vote)

The Democratic House caucus voted unanimously for 4 of these 6 bills.  The two votes where some Dems voted no were on stem cell research and repealing tax breaks for oil and gas (the bill would also punish companies who don't renegotiate leases the government screwed up in 1998-99).  There were 16 Democrats voting against the stem cell bill, and 4 who voted against the oil tax break bill.  Even on HR 3, the vote in which the Democrats were most divided, Democrats voted 216-16 (or 93% to 7%) in favor.  A majority in the House is 218, but enough members didn't vote that the Democrats' votes alone would have sufficed to pass the bill.  In fact, that is true of all 6 bills.  By historical standards, the Democrats exhibited an extraordinary, even extreme, degree of party unity on these votes.

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