Battle lines forming over jobs in Dem House majority

Over the last year, Speaker Pelosi has moved from manually aided lefty druther to odds-on bet.

And, to prove it, the Lioness garners profiles in the Post (on A1 on Saturday) and the LA Times (ditto).

But the Speaker-elect may well be up to her - knees, shall we say? - in internecine strife well before she gets to park her posterior in her chair of office.

The wider picture is that a good proportion of ranking members are old guys who have hung on grimly in office in the (up till this year) forelorn hope of being restored to their once and future chairmanships. (Is that determination or rigor that's keeping those fingers locked so tightly round their incumbencies?)

Remember the good old, bad old days of Jim Crow and plug tobacco, when Congressional leaderships were in pawn to a bunch of Southern relics in chairmanships? The 110th risks turning out to be a liberal reworking of the story - if the Dems (and Pelosi) aren't careful.

The Post has a suggestive companion piece (on A6) to Mrs P's profile:

If Democrats win control in November, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has decided to award committee chairmanships based almost entirely on seniority, ensuring that the House would feature far more minority faces, and some liberal firebrands, in key posts.

But, mindful of the growing power of an expanding band of Democratic moderates and conservatives, Pelosi has also vowed that she would keep her chairmen on a tight leash, according to leadership aides and current and former Democratic lawmakers. She has assured conservative Democrats that she would personally temper the legislative impulses of her most liberal chairmen while keeping close tabs on the investigations that could dominate the final two years of the Bush presidency.

Now, a good many in the lefty sphere seem to be under the (mis)apprehension that the Dem House party will pursue the regime with the tenacity of Inspector Javert and the ballyhoo of Joe McCarthy in a fantasmagoria of investigations, with gaveling, on-camera antics, flying contempt citations, taking of the Fifth and the like.

As we gathered from the Lioness's appearance on Meet the Press (when she slapped down Mr Impeachment) this is evidently not how she sees it.

But - the A6 piece points out - there could be a clash of race and ideology, as well as egos, in deciding how the Dem majority is to be managed.

Apparently, the Blue Dogs are feeling their oats:

"We've inched our way back toward the majority by replacing Republicans with conservative-to-moderate Democrats, and you're going to see a lot more of that November 7," said Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), one of the leaders of the Blue Dog coalition. "Do I believe Blue Dogs will have a greater voice in the Democratic leadership? You betcha."

The Blue Dogs could hold the balance of power in a Democratic House. With 37 members, the group already has clout; 16 Democratic candidates have the Blue Dogs' endorsement, and a dozen of them could win. That would give them numbers surpassing the Congressional Black Caucus's 43 members.

On the racial front,

Several moderate-to-conservative Democrats in the House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of fraying party unity, specifically mentioned two members: Conyers...and...Hastings...

(No question about Rangel at Ways and Means; and I have no information whether Bennie Thompson at Homeland Security will take the chair - I'm sure we would have heard if there was a serious doubt about it.)

The ticklish case of Alcee Hastings and the House Intelligence Committee I've written before here at some length.

It seems that

The senior Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), wants the chairmanship and has the strong backing of the Blue Dogs. But personal friction between Harman and Pelosi virtually ensures that Harman will not remain on the committee, according to lawmakers and aides close to Pelosi.

What's the Harman/Pelosi deal? Is it more important than keeping impeachment convictee Hastings out of the HIC chair?

(Somewhat surprised that the GOP haven't made much of this; on the other hand, they do have troubles of their own.)

Lo and behold! The high-ups have been taking my advice on a compromise candidate: third-ranking Dem on the HIC Silvestro Reyes:

Leadership aides have begun floating a compromise, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Tex.), the third-ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, hoping that a minority choice would soothe bruised feelings.

And the CBC's reaction?

Remember the barely averted CBC insurrection over winkling Mr Cold Hard Cash out of his Ways and Means seat?

"The CBC would not look kindly on that," said caucus spokeswoman Myra Dandridge. "The first order of business of the CBC chairman would be to protect his members, and Alcee Hastings has the seniority, the knowledge and the experience to be chairman of the intelligence committee."

The first order of business of the CBC chairman would be to protect his members...

Just like Singapore in 1942, looks like the CBC big guns are pointing in the wrong direction...

Tags: Alcee Hastings, Bennie Thompson, Blue Dogs, Charlie Rangel, Committee Chairmanships, Congressional Black Caucus, Democrat-Controlled House, House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, John Conyers, Pelosi, race, Silvestre Reyes, William Jefferson (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Re: Battle lines forming over jobs in Dem House ma

Why would Bennie Thompson not take over Homeland Security? I have not heard anything about any possibility he would not take the chair if the Democrats win.

by robliberal 2006-10-23 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Battle lines forming over jobs in Dem House ma

Whereas one reads a fair bit about Rangel and Conyers taking the chair in their committees, I haven't seen anything about Thompson.

That doesn't mean he's not got the green light to take his chair - I would have thought that, if there had been any question about it, we'd have heard about it by now.

So, no news is probably good news for him.

(Agree the text is ambiguous - I've changed it!)

by skeptic06 2006-10-23 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: old time values in the Dem House

the good old, bad old days of Jim Crow and plug tobacco

Ah, yes, an era when novelist Henry James had one of his characters describe our nation's capital as "a crowd of shabby people circulating in a labyrinth of spitoons."

by Christopher Walker 2006-10-23 10:50AM | 0 recs

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