Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dems: GOP Will Like Minority Status

Well, on top of John Conyers op-ed saying that he really has no firm plans to impeach the President, despite his having committed impeachable offenses, now Nancy Pelosi is telling Republicans that minority status will be great (subscription required):

Pelosi: Bipartisanship Gets Major Role If Democrats Regain Control Of House
House Republicans might have their doubts, but Minority Leader Pelosi says a Democratic majority next year would place a heavy emphasis on bipartisanship -- and would offer the Republicans minority rights often denied Democrats now.
"[I would like] to come as close as you can in the political reality to a bipartisan management of the House," Pelosi said in a Wednesday interview with CongressDaily. "I'm a big believer in bipartisanship on so many issues. You can't address the entitlement issue, the healthcare issue, and do it in a partisan way. They are too big, they involve too many people, and they involve too much money, private and public money. You've got to do it in a way that has legitimacy."
Pelosi, who is widely viewed to become speaker if Democrats pull off a net 15-seat gain on Election Day, intends to stand by a proposal she offered House Speaker Hastert two years ago to enact a Minority Bill of Rights.
It includes guaranteeing the minority at least one-third of committee resources, a revamped work schedule, a commitment to moving legislation through regular order, and allowing at least 24 hours before voting on conference reports.
"I would consider the role to be speaker of the House, not speaker of the Democrats," she said. "I love this institution. I've been here 19 years now."
Pelosi said her time as minority leader has been spent "learning in the minority how you don't want to be treated, and that's how we would not want them to be treated."
In perhaps the biggest break from the current practices of GOP leaders, Pelosi said she would be willing to lose votes on the floor.
"Absolutely," she said. "It's not about a defeat, it's about a decision. I certainly would not say that we can't bring things to the floor because we'll lose ... [Republicans] are afraid of ideas. That's why we can't have amendments, substitutes, and all the rest for the most part. When was the last time you ever saw a Democratic bill come to the floor of the House except to name a post office when they name five? It just doesn't happen and that's not right."
As speaker, Pelosi would have her work cut out for her to create a working, bipartisan atmosphere in a Congress that is often described as one of the most partisan in history. Republicans have also sought to portray Pelosi as a symbol of a radical, left-wing San Francisco-style politics.
"They may try to paint me to the left but our message is about the bread-and-butter issues of America's working families," she countered. "They may want to go out and misrepresent who I am -- a mother of five children, a grandmother of five children, they are not saying any of that. We are playing our own game, and you have to take a lot of heat."
Politically, Republicans have also portrayed Pelosi as out of touch with average Americans -- pointing to her aversion to traveling in rural and Southern regions.
"It's kind of an open secret that Nancy Pelosi doesn't travel much below the Mason-Dixon Line unless it's Miami," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas Reynolds of New York said at a Tuesday political briefing.
Not so, countered Pelosi.
"I am limited by the calendar," she said. "I have so many requests to travel around the country."
Pelosi, who plays a key role as a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said she goes where the money is, which tends to be mostly urban areas for Democrats.
Unlike Hastert, Pelosi is not as quick to shun the limelight although her national name recognition remains relatively low.
"I don't think the speaker is that well-known. When I'm speaker of the House I expect to be much better known," she quipped.
While Democratic leaders frequently invoke their voting unity during Pelosi's tenure, it remains to be seen if the often-divergent Democratic Caucus can reach consensus to govern in a closely divided chamber.
Democrats might not have the option to not work with their Republican counterparts, or the Bush administration, to move legislation.
"And who knows where the good ideas will come from? The right, the left, the middle," Pelosi said. "I think you have to be open to that and whatever the consequence, it is worth it because it has been the result of free and open debate."
But Pelosi thinks the Caucus can unite if they win the majority by a narrow margin.
"We certainly can hold our Democrats," she said, citing party victories in sidelining President Bush's Social Security plan and shifting the debate to the ethical standard in Congress.
"Last year our challenge was to defeat the president's privatization plan, to save Social Security. We did that. It was also important to finally get in to the public domain the culture of corruption, incompetence and cronyism. We accomplished both of those things," she said. "If we hadn't won that fight, how could we hold our heads up as a party?" she added, in reference to Social Security.
Whereas Republican leaders must often balance the moderate and conservative factions within the Conference, Pelosi will similarly have to negotiate with factions often at odds with her: the moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, the moderate New Democrat Coalition, and the liberal Progressive Caucus, among others.
Pelosi has sought to integrate members of the Caucus into the agenda rollout that Democrats have begun on issues including national security, energy, innovation and lobbying reform.
In particular, she credited the Blue Dogs with promoting the energy agenda, and the New Democrats with aiding the innovation agenda. Democrats will also offer a more detailed domestic agenda in mid-June, she said, adding that the "differentiation" between the parties is starting to "weigh in" voters' minds.
One institutional change Pelosi does not support is challenging the seniority system.
Not only would a Democratic majority make Pelosi speaker but it would return many long-standing ranking members to chairmanships, among them Energy and Commerce ranking member John Dingell of Michigan, Judiciary ranking member John Conyers of Michigan, Ways and Means ranking member Charles Rangel of New York, and Appropriations ranking member David Obey of Wisconsin.
"I don't see any change in the seniority system," she said. "If the Democrats win, there will be plenty of room for new blood" because Democrats will have more committee seats.
Pelosi also appeared confident that Democrats could take on Bush in his waning days in the White House.
"I have a good rapport with the president. But I don't fancy myself a Tip O'Neill, and I don't fancy him a Ronald Reagan," she said. By Susan Davis

That's right! Candy and ponies for all the Republicans, when Nancy Pelosi is Speaker! And that time when she threatened to strip committee assignments from Democrats who voted with the GOP? That was just another demonstration of bipartisanship! She can be as mean to Democrats as she has been to Republicans, silly!

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