Friday, January 12, 2007

Rangel Disses Nancy; Dems Break Another Promise

The New York Post reports that Ways and Means Committee chairman Charlie Rangel is 'miffed' that Speaker Pelosi is suggesting tax policy without consulting him, and bypassing his committee's jurisdiction on major legislation:

January 12, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - Powerhouse New York Rep. Charles Rangel is butting heads with fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi just a week into the new Congress controlled by their party, The Post has learned.

Rangel yesterday swatted down a tax hike that Pelosi has floated, and he made an end run around her decision to bypass House committees in a rush to bring bills to a vote.

"There's a lot of tension there," one Democratic lawmaker said of the relationship between Rangel and Pelosi.

Rangel, who took over the powerful Ways and Means Committee after 36 years in Congress, smacked down the idea Pelosi raised on Sunday of repealing tax cuts for those earning more than $500,000 per year.

"We haven't gotten that far to be talking about tax increases," Rangel told The Post. "She hasn't discussed it with me . . . We haven't gotten into tax policy."

Pelosi had said nixing tax cuts for half-million-dollar earners "might be more important to the American people than ignoring the educational and health needs of America's children."

But Rangel, whose committee handles tax policy, dismissed Pelosi's idea as unlikely to happen, since the speaker didn't bother to vet it with him in advance.

"Saying it to me in private is far more important than whatever she says nationally," he huffed, referring to her weekend TV appearance.

By calling out Pelosi, Rangel, a liberal firebrand himself, has emerged as the first old-school committee "baron" with the political juice to spar with the ascendant speaker.

In another swat at Pelosi, Rangel sided with Republican lawmakers by opposing his leadership's high-profile push to jam through legislation in the first 100 hours of Democratic rule.

Pelosi decreed that none of the early legislation would go through the normal committee process, hoping to keep her party in lockstep to enact key agenda items and boost her own and the party's national image.

"I don't think the chairman [Rangel] likes the idea that there were no hearings on a lot of the bills that were coming up in the 100 hours," said the Democratic lawmaker.

And if you continue down a little further in the article, you find that the 'open process' promised by Ms. Pelosi and the Democratic leadership seems to have been a casualty, as well:

Rangel got around her by setting up closed-door committee forums that were essentially hearings anyway.

Yesterday, the Republican and Democratic committee members met with health experts on the drug bill, and an energy meeting is set for next week

Guess the 'open Congress' thing wasn't an important promise. I really wish they'd tell us which ones are important!

Last comment: I noted a while ago that Ms. Pelosi's fight for Murtha over Hoyer might be the sort of proxy vote that showed she was unable to control the Democratic conference. I warned that that that loss might presage a Congress where she was unable to rein in Committee chairmen, much as was the case in the last Democratic majority. Well, post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

And Philo has chronicled the rivalry between Rangel and Pelosi, and Pelosi's past dissing of Rangel on Murtha and policy matters. Guess payback can be a... pain in the neck.

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