Pelosi's Power Play: Do the Blue Dogs only bark?

Good morning, and welcome to the start of the 111th Congress. Your intrepid blogger remains on his voter-mandated vacation as he writes this, and it is not for a lack of trying.

As we move forward to the ceremonial opening of Congress, we must ask ourselves if Speaker Nancy Pelosi will beckon children to gather about her as she is anointed like she did at the start of the 110th Congress. Or, will she beckon the special-interest group which will be at the heart of every Democrat this session: the union bosses?

The news reports today detail how Madame Speaker has, with the likely tacit approval of the incoming president, decided to embrace her own versions of "Hope" and "Change": changing the rules of the House of Representatives back to the pre-Newt days in the hope of quashing all dissent and opposition in order to protect her caucus from politically tricky votes, and installing committee chairman for life - going back on the reforms Republicans brought forth in 1994.

House Democrats are poised to approve new rules that will significantly increase their authority while taking the bullets out of the few legislative weapons Republicans have in the lower chamber.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has approved the changes from the last Congress, when House GOP members frustrated their Democratic counterparts by winning over two dozen amendment battles on the floor.

Pelosi’s move has set up a divisive mood on the first day of the 111th Congress, which Republicans say runs counter to the tone set by President-elect Obama.

Republican leaders intend to fight the rules changes, which would curtail their ability to delay legislation by forcing Democrats to take politically difficult votes.

“This is not the kind of openness and transparency that President-elect Obama promised,” the GOP leaders wrote Monday in a letter to Pelosi.

Republican leadership aides say the changes will make it easier for the Speaker to run the House and protect vulnerable House Democrats.

As I write, Rep. John Larson (the new Rahm) is speaking on C-SPAN about working together with Republicans to improve the country (which is easy, I guess, when you write the rules in such a way that the only "working together" comes from voting with the Democrats). Per CQ:

Democratic leaders are taking a hard look at preventing the minority party from scoring easy political points with motions to recommit a bill to committee with instructions to make contentious language changes and then report it back to the House “promptly.” In the outgoing Congress, “promptly’’ has meant an indefinite hold, because committees were not willing to adopt poison-pill amendments sponsored by the minority.

Most motions to recommit require instead that an amended bill be returned to the floor “forthwith,” which means within minutes.

GOP aides complain that the possible limit motions to recommit would take away the minority’s ability to attack tax increases in must-pass bills. That’s because the pay-as-you-go budget rule, which is likely to be renewed, does not allow amendments or motions to recommit forthwith that would remove any of the offsets it requires in legislation.

The pay-as-you-go rule requires that all new entitlement spending or new tax cuts be offset with equivalent spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere.

So, to sum up. Speaker Pelosi will strip term-limits from committee chairman - giving them virtually unbridled power to dominate the minority party - while stripping the minority of the power to recommit a motion back to a committee. That sounds an awful lot like one-party consolidation to me.


Members of the GOP Conference have, correctly, asked about the transparency which was promised by The One to deliver us from every evil. While we know their remarks was rhetorical, it begs the question from all Americans on whether the Pelosi Congress will allow their newly-unfettered committee chairman to write whatever they want in the cloak room, march it to the House floor, pass it without an opportunity for robust debate, and send it to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue for Barack Obama's rubber stamp.

Hardly the type of change that is worthy of the new hope as expressed by the followers of The One.

As an Arkansan, I can't help but to think of the fact that John McCain won my state by a large margin, even carrying the Democrat-represented congressional districts by double-digits. This fact is important as we begin a new Congress, for there are three Arkansas Democrats who are poised to vote for the Pelosi power play - depite the fact that two of them are, notionally, conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats.

Being from Little Rock, I already know Rep. Vic Snyder will vote with the Speaker without hesitation, as he is the most liberal member of the delegation. However, Blue Dogs Marion Berry and Mike Ross should be expected to at least hesitate on this new rules package before eventually succumbing to the power of Pelosi.

I propose making our Arkansas representatives understand that those of us back home believe in fairness, and that playing partisan politics is not why we sent them to Congress. I urge you to contact the Democrat members of the Arkansas House delegation, to let them know that the Pelosi power play is not the type of governing our country needs at this time, and is a step back to the days of a closed Congress that was unaccountable to the American people.

Here are the deets:

  • Rep. Marion Berry: 202-225-4076 or 800-866-2701
  • Rep. Vic Snyder: 202-225-2506 or 501-324-5941
  • Rep. Mike Ross: 800-223-2220

If you are a Republican, and live under a Democrat (especially a Blue Dog) congressman, I urge you to make contact with them before noon (ET) today and let them know that you will not stand for this.

Call them today!

Your rating: None


umm... the Gingrich rules were substantially relaxed

under Pelosi, in a gesture of good faith that was marred by motions to recommit during a memorial service for the deceased Congresswoman.

Let's just say that stupidity is stupidity, and that sometimes you get what you got coming.

Pot: "Kettle - you're black!"

For 6 years the GOP controlled Congress and played by the "we'll do things in a bipartisan manner - as long as the Dems agree with exactly what we say, it will be bipartisan!"  Now, with the GOP the minority party, they are complaining that the party in charge wants to change the f**ked up ways things have been run?

I hope both parties play nicely together.  But keep in mind - the GOP was VOTED OUT, so do not be surprized when things don't go your failed-ass ways.

I'm sure...

...that if this had been Tom DeLay's idea, the Drive-By's would have gone along.

Stripping Term Limits

I suspect that if Speaker Pelosi was a student of history, she would realize that this ploy has a high chance of being rejected by voters in 2010 or 2012.  This kind of arrogance and abuse of power will be soundly rejected as it has in the past 1994, 2000, 2006.  It may not take six years this time to change the one party rule that voters obviously dislike. 

The phrase that should frighten everyone is "preventing the minority party from scoring easy political points with motions to recommit..."  (emphaisis added).  The Founding Fathers made it difficult to pass a bill for a reason - to invite open and fair debate so laws are not rushed through.  Maybe someone should send Nancy P. the Federalist Papers.   She needs a refresher civits class.  Or just have her watch Saturday Morning cartoons circa 1980.   


Is this with no sense of irony?  The Republicans don't know how to play any other way.  Until the last decade or two, filibuster was reserved for rare cases.  Now the GOP considers it their given right to prevent any and all legistlation until the Democrats have 60 senators or they get back to 51, in which case they can rest assured that the sad Democrats won't play by the new rules.  Are you really complaining that Pelosi is trying to prevent even more obscure parliamentary rules from giving the (small, for now) minority party the same power in the supposedly more rowdy, less pariliamentary, house?

As soon as I got to the world "annointed"

As soon as I got to the world "annointed" I felt pretty sure that what was going to follow was not going to be of much value. And the author did not disappoint.

Why is this front page?

I mean, honestly. How are you going to convince someone with an article that is obviously written by a partisan with an axe to grind.

And, also, give me a break. How many times did we hear that the Democrats were 'obstructionists' when Republicans held all three branches earlier in the decade?

Less often than we heard that

Less often than we heard that venal and arrogant Republicans were trampling the rights of the purehearted Democrat minority.

Spare us more of this idiotic "turnabout isn't fair play" whining.


you got your war, even with the democrats in charge

is it somehow now wrong for us to ask your leave to save our country?


The flag is upside down -- and I know you know what that means!

You're not interested in

You're not interested in saving our country. You're interested in remaking the country into a European social-welfare shithole. Obstruction of that end by any means is noble and worthy.


Ironic, isn't it

Ironic that leftists here want to emulate European socialism even as Europe becomes more free-market oriented and elects more conservative leaders (Sarkozy, Merkel).  I'm just waiting for some upcoming conference when Obama finds himself to the ideological left of the EU.  That should be amusing.

including terrorism?

seriously. you should know better. I like Denmark, but each to his own.

Tell me what key legislation Republicans DIDN'T get through

I would like to know what legislation you think the Republican majority was unable to push through.

And it's not the Democrats' fault that Republicans are generally venal and arrogant. :)

I would like to know what

I would like to know what legislation you think the incoming Democratic majority will be unable to push through.

And it's not the Republicans' fault that Democrats are generally thieves and scoundrels.


Actually, I don't think that they'll accomplish much

If Democrats are anything, it's inept. And spineless. I fully believe that Republicans will be able to filibuster most legislation. For instance, FISA will most likely stay how it is. GTMO may be closed down, but I bet that interrogation will still occur. Nothing important will be passed on global warming, except for car MPG ratings most likely. The Iraq war will last til 2011 at earliest, and the Afghanistan War will take it's place.

The few liberal things I expect to see passed are a repeal of Don't Ask , Don't Tell, liberal Supreme Court appointments, and of course, raised taxes.

i was never truly against torture

in an extreme limited "do this less than blue moons occur" sort of way. I just didn't want people boasting and us losing moral high ground because we do it. it's supposed to be under wraps, and done extremely sparingly.

I am

But, being military, I would rather not see those techniques enshrined into law. Then I won't have to worry about countries LEGALLY using them on us.

Leave torture outlawed. That way, if an agent feels it is the only way, he will go to a court of law and be judged by his peers.

By enshrining it into law, you're just begging for power creep.

As well, I can't morally support comitting torture on someone who could potentially be an innocent. Maybe if I had captured the person who shot at me, and my friend/family was in danger, I might do the same. But by the same token, I might try to get revenge on someone that hurt my family. I don't think that would be correct either.

yeah, I'll definitely favor keeping it outlawed

and letting the Commander in Chief have his day in court if it gets out from under wraps.

The main criticism of torture, morals aside, is that it is mainly ineffectual, compared to other methods.

I agree that torture is immoral, but America has done many immoral things, and will continue to do so, whether or not they are moral.

yeah, I'll definitely favor keeping it outlawed

and letting the Commander in Chief have his day in court if it gets out from under wraps.

The main criticism of torture, morals aside, is that it is mainly ineffectual, compared to other methods.

I agree that torture is immoral, but America has done many immoral things, and will continue to do so, whether or not they are moral.

Pelosi and Minions Fully Responsible Now

Power-mad people rarely see the folly of their ways for while the Dragon Lady may have reduced the small influence of the few remaining Republicans in the House, she has also removed them as scapegoats for her failures.

the dragon lady? seriously, she ain't chinese

Ma Pelosi ain't capable of failing with that majority. just compromising. And she ain't nearly as dumb as Tip.

Stop calling them "Blue Dogs"

"Lap Dogs" or "Blue Poodles" is more accurate

tiffany jewellery

see the folly of their ways for while the Dragon  Lady ">tiffany jewellery  may have reduced the small influence of the few remaining Republicans in the House