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NY Post's Barone: Pelosi Losing Pull in the House

By    |   Saturday, 29 November 2014 11:22 AM

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's hold on her party may be loosening, with the California lawmaker experiencing her first major in-party loss since she won her leadership post by defeating Steny Hoyer in 2003.

Her loss involved the election of New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone to become the ranking minority member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee over Pelosi's pick, fellow California Rep. Anna Eshoo, says Michael Barone in a New York Post opinion piece.

The Democratic Caucus chose Pallone by a 100-90 secret vote, a huge contrast to the caucus' leadership vote back in 1976, when Texas Rep. Jim Wright was chosen as majority leader by a 148-147 vote over California's Phil Burton.

Pallone had more seniority, but Eshoo is a close friend, Barone writes. Further, Black Caucus members who also have seniority did not like Pelosi's actions, and also resented her refusal to allow a pregnant and disabled member to vote by proxy.

But even though Burton lost that vote by one, his legacy lives on with Pelosi. Burton's widow, Salah Burton, succeeded him after he died, and she endorsed Pelosi as their successor in 1987.

While Burton never reached the level Pelosi did, he is credited with changing the House dramatically. The seniority system then made conservative Southerners committee chairmen, and they would often block liberal measures. But after the 1974 election, Democratic leaders decided the caucus was able to vote on committee chairmen, and Burton organized a signature drive to challenge the chairmen, eventually establishing that the caucus helped to decide chairmanships.

The reforms meant chairmen would be decided by party steering committees and there would be a six-year term limit, allowing legislative committees to be "run by members in line with the views of the majority of the majority party."

In addition, members were able to compete in chairmanship elections by raising money for their colleagues, a system that Pelosi has played well.

Over the years, Pelosi has raised a total of $400 million for fellow democrats and supported campaign chairman Rahm Emanuel's moderate recruitment, leading to a House majority for Democrats in 2006.

She also pushed for the 2008 ouster of Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, who was the longest-serving House member ever, to replace him with fellow in favor of her fellow Californian, Henry Waxman.

Pelosi was also the largest champion for cap-and-trade legislation, the 2009 stimulus package and for Obamacare in 2010.

However, Democrats lost 63 seats and their House majority in November 2010 and even more in this November's election, leaving the majority rule firmly in the hands of Republicans, Barone writes.

"Burton’s reform made the House Democratic Caucus more liberal — but also much smaller," he concluded. "Now Pelosi’s grip seems to have weakened just a little."

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House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's hold on her party may be loosening, with the California lawmaker experiencing her first major in-party loss since she won her leadership post by defeating Steny Hoyer in 2003. Her loss involved the election of New Jersey Democratic...
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2014-22-29
Saturday, 29 November 2014 11:22 AM
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