This brewing rebellion, barely a month into the new Congress, is all about the drafting of the massive pork-pie stimulus bill, which we are finding was a closely-held affair in the Pelosi stimulus star chamber.
It is also (nominally) about the hyper-partisanship of this megalomaniacal cabal that simply wants to spit in Republicans' faces, when not ignoring their existence completely. We see what that got them and Obama when the GOP caucus smacked them across the face with unanimous opposition to the stimulus bill.
This, along with 11 House Democrat nay votes, is a nice bow on top as the pork-pie now faces the far more egalitarian (in the rules, anyway) and "bi-partisan" Senate.
Somehow, though, I doubt this could-be revolt has as much to do with the superficial complaints over accountability, deliberation, and centrism as much as it does with crankiness over lesser House Democrats' being cut out of the loop of the liberal "stimulus" bonanza, unable to insert their own pet big government spending projects.
[Considering Democrats were a 12-year minority up to just over 2 years ago, it is notable so many are unperturbed by their leadership's steamrolling of the minority in "new rules", hearkening back to the pre-1995 glory days when the Jim Wrights, Tip O'Neills, and Sam Rayburns operated as if there was no minority. These rules changes also eliminated term limits for powerful committee chairs, another Republican reform that was instituted to curb the entrenched power centers that marked the previous four decades of Democrat rule.]
Whether it is Obama's stumbling between swaggering rhetoric and effusive "I screwed up" mea culpas (this tactic will soon wear out its usefulness) or the Pelosi-Reid Democrat tyranny, even within their own caucus, to ram unprecedented government deficit expansionism down the country's throat, we are quickly seeing a Washington more akin to the late 1970's than a dawning era of "change".
Ahhh, the years of pent-up paternalism and unbridled pork-barrel opportunism so quickly coming undone....and with it the Democrats' "political capital" (assuming they ever really had any, beyond tapping Bush hatred)... is just such cosmic justice....almost instant karma.
Unless we begin seeing more than Democrats acting the mirror-image of the hated Republicans....or, more accurately, Bush and his toadies....of the infamous "last 8 years", I suspect Democrat Rovian fantasies of a permanent political majority junta will be, thankfully and rightfully, short-lived.
A group of more than 50 House Democrats has penned a letter to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) imploring him to “restore this institution” and see that the House returns to a “regular order” process of legislating.
The letter, signed by a large number of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition and the centrist New Democratic Coalition, has not yet been sent. Members are still gathering signatures in an effort to send the strongest signal possible to all top House Democrats that the caucus is up in arms over the top-down method of legislating employed by Democrats since late last year.
Hoyer, and not Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was chosen as the recipient not because he is viewed as the prime enemy, but “because this group has no better friend in this fight” than the majority leader — who is widely respected across the ideological spectrum for his adherence to rules and procedures — an aide said.
“You and Speaker Pelosi have each been quoted repeatedly as noting that the country must be governed from the middle, employing bipartisanship to solve our problems; we proudly and strongly affirm that view,” the members wrote. “One of the most basic but vital tools we have at our disposal to encourage bipartisanship is regular order in the House and Senate.”
Since last year, many senior House Democrats — many of them subcommittee chairmen — have grown overly frustrated with how only small and select bands of legislators have been responsible for writing bills, such as the $700 billion Wall Street bailout as well as much of the $819 billion economic stimulus bill.
Democratic leaders have acknowledged that the “regular order” process of methodically developing and writing bills in subcommittees and committees has been abandoned recently. But they have defended the handling of such sensitive and important legislation by only an exclusive group of leadership and senior lawmakers as a necessary tactic during exceptional times.
Democratic leaders also have promised — both to their members in private and in public — to return to regular order as soon as the emergency economic stimulus bill was completed.
Now at least 50 Democrats are calling the Speaker’s hand.
“Committees must function thoroughly and inclusively, and cooperation must ensue between the parties and the houses to ensure that our legislative tactics enable rather than impede progress,” the members wrote. “In general, we must engender an atmosphere that allows partisan games to cease and collaboration to succeed.”
Along with their demands, Democrats also included a stark warning to their leaders: change or become the Republicans you spent your years in the minority vilifying.
Republicans chastised Pelosi for shutting them out of the bill-writing process in justifying their unanimous votes against the House stimulus bill last week.
Pelosi defended her handling of the bill — which she broke up in three parts and sent to three different committees, where it was subject to full markups — as appropriate and inclusive.
“We reached out to the Republicans all along the way, and they know it,” she told reporters last week. “They just didn’t have the ideas that had the support of the majority of the people in the Congress.”
At the same time, many of the 11 Democrats who voted against the stimulus bill — including Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who has signed the letter — said they also objected to the process.
And others, including Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), said their frustration over how the bill was hastily put together almost led them to vote against it, as well.