January 2, 2007


Democrats To Start Without GOP Input: Quick Passage of First Bills Sought (Lyndsey Layton and Juliet Eilperin, 7/02/06, Washington Post)

As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking.

House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans.

But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.

Nancy Pelosi, the Californian who will become House speaker, and Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who will become majority leader, finalized the strategy over the holiday recess in a flurry of conference calls and meetings with other party leaders. A few Democrats, worried that the party would be criticized for reneging on an important pledge, argued unsuccessfully that they should grant the Republicans greater latitude when the Congress convenes on Thursday.

It's not as if anyone besides partisan Democrats and newspaper editorial boards even pretended to believe them.

As New Congress Nears, House Democrats Could Be Headed for Own Divide (CARL HULSE, 1/02/07, NY Times)

Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who with more than 50 years’ tenure is the senior member of the House, is not so sure about the idea of creating an independent group to enforce ethics rules.

But Gabrielle Giffords, a brand-new House Democrat from Arizona, considers it a no-brainer. Of the longstanding approach in which lawmakers are seated on the ethics committee to police their peers, Representative-elect Giffords said, “It is like having the fox guard the henhouse.”

Those divergent outlooks over how best to fulfill the Democratic promise to clean up the House are just one illustration of a friction that could develop in the new Congress as the party takes control after 12 years in exile. While most attention will be focused on the divide between Republicans and Democrats, members of the new majority have their own differing perspectives, corresponding largely to length of service, that could ultimately prove more crucial to their success or failure.

Democrats who won GOP districts don't have much chance of being re-elected when the top of the ticket is McCain v. Clinton, but none if they follow Nancy Pelosi.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 2, 2007 8:21 AM

And now Conyers has a little ethics problem to sweep under the rug.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 2, 2007 11:29 AM

They sound so sincere; why shouldn't we give them a chance (for 2 seconds after the opening gavel) to prove their intentions.

Posted by: Dave W at January 2, 2007 10:51 PM