GOP seizes on dis­sent in ma­jor­ity; Dems seen be­ing shut out

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Christina Bellantoni

House Repub­li­cans have been quot­ing some un­likely al­lies when com­plain­ingabout­themeth­od­sused by the new Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity — Demo­cratic lead­ers.

As the House ap­proved the fi­nal piece of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ini­tial “Six for ‘06” agenda, Repub­li­cans lamented that the bills in the pack­age did not go through com­mit­tees and that amend­ments were not al­lowed.

Back­ing up their point were Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid of Ne­vada; Rep. Charles B. Ran­gel of New York, House Ways and Means Com­mit­teechair­man;andRep.John D. Din­gell of Michi­gan, the House’s long­est-serv­ing mem­ber.

“The­yareshut­tin­gout­notjustRepub­li­cans but all of the tal­ented mem­ber­soft­hisCongress,”saidRep. Adam H. Put­nam of Florida, chair­man of the Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence.

Mr. Put­nam and other Repub­li­cans ear­lier this month re­peat­edly trot­ted out an ar­ti­cle about Mr. Reid in Time mag­a­zine that in­cluded an as­ser­tion:“In­pri­vate,Se­nate­sources say, Reid has been crit­i­cal of the Speak­er­for­whathe­be­lieveswa­sun­nec­es­sary rough­ness in ram­ming through her first-100-hours agenda, re­fus­ing­toal­lowRepub­li­cansto­pro­posea­mend­mentsand­break­ingher cam­paign prom­ise to open up the law­mak­ing process.”

The ar­ti­cle didn’t quote the Ne­vada Demo­crat di­rectly crit­i­ciz­ing Mrs. Pelosi, but Repub­li­cans seize­donit,say­ing­she­hadachieved a “tri­fecta” of Demo­cratic crit­ics.

“Top House Tax Writer, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader, and now the Dean ofthe­House,”Repub­li­cans­blaredin a press re­lease cit­ing Mr. Reid, Mr. Ran­gel and Mr. Din­gell.

The New York Post re­ported that Mr. Ran­gel is “butting heads” with the speaker over the com­mit­tee process,andthatthereis­ten­sion­be­tween the two over tax pol­icy.

Mr. Ran­gel told The Wash­ing­ton Times that he is “un­com­fort­able” with Repub­li­cans’ us­ing him to sup­port their own point and that he is con­fi­dent Demo­cratic lead­ers will re­turn to reg­u­lar or­der now that their open­ing agenda has been passed.

“That was part of the 100-hour agenda, and I’d like to be­lieve that is be­hind us now,” Mr. Ran­gel said.

Though Repub­li­cans for a dozen years largely shut Democrats out of the law­mak­ing process us­ing many of the same tac­tics, they have jus­ti­fiedtheir­com­plaintsthisyear­bysay­ing vot­ers sent a mes­sage they want more bi­par­ti­san­ship.

“I un­der­stand the need for the ma­jor­ity party to make its move, to make its first im­pres­sion,” said Mi­nor­ity Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio. “I un­der­stand that the first cou­ple of bills had to come fly­ing right to the floor, but we are short­cir­cuit­ing democ­racy here.”

Mrs. Pelosi and Ma­jor­ity Leader Steny H. Hoyer say their agenda has been sub­jected to sev­eral com­mit­tee hear­ings and point out that their 2006 cam­paign high­lighted their six leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties, which all passed this month with some Repub­li­can sup­port.

They note that a min­i­mum-wage in­crease passed the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee last year but never went to the floor for a clean vote and point out their bill to ex­pand fed­eral sup­port from em­bry­onic stem-cell re­search is iden­ti­cal to one passed by the pre­vi­ous Congress.

Repub­li­cans counter by say­ing the ac­cel­er­ated process this month led­toatleasttwomis­takes—the­ex­emp­tion of Amer­i­can Samoa from amin­i­mum-wagein­crease­and­fail­ure to in­clude in the ini­tial ethics pack­age a mea­sure bar­ring ex-law- mak­ers con­victed of felonies from re­ceiv­ing gov­ern­ment pen­sions. Democrats plan to fix both er­rors.

“The jam­ming of an agenda, re­ly­ing only on a hand­ful of peo­ple, is re­sult­ing in a bad prod­uct,” Mr. Put­nam said. “It’s not just Repub­li­cans who are notic­ing. Ma­jor­ity Leader Reid is talk­ing about the rail­road­ing ofapro­ces­sand[Chair­man]Ran­gel is say­ing com­mit­tees need to have a role, and we couldn’t agree more.”

Mi­nor­ity Whip Roy Blunt of Mis­souri said Mrs. Pelosi’s “rush to judg­ment” has pro­duced er­rors that even sea­soned Democrats com­plain about.

“The chair­men — they’re be­ing ig­nored as well by the way — un­der­stand that,” he said.

Fur­therex­cit­ingRepub­li­can­swas Mrs.Pelosi’splanstoestab­lishaspe­cial com­mit­tee on global warm­ing that might take aim at U.S. au­tomak­ers, whose cars are a lead­ing source of car­bon emis­sions. The moveir­ri­tat­edMr.Din­gell,thechair­man of the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee who hails from Michi­gan, home to the auto in­dus­try.

A Demo­cratic source said some of the lead­ers and more con­ser­va­tive mem­bers were frus­trated that Mrs. Pelosi seems to be push­ing her own agenda by go­ing around them. Sources said Mrs. Pelosi did not col­lab­o­rate with Mr. Hoyer when craft­ing the plan for the warm­ing com­mit­tee.

Bloomberg News

Draw­ing heat: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces crit­i­cism for by­pass­ing com­mit­tees on her 100-hours agenda.

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