The post below gives you stream of consciousness notes on the first 26 Members who stopped by blogger's row in the Capitol. I debated how to cover it - whether I should provide one quick summary, or try to capture all of it as best I could. I figured that I would do the latter. If you're represented by one of these Members, you might want to know in greater detail what he or she said. Or you might want to get a flavor of the presentations with as little filtering as possible.
If you go to the other bloggers who participated (Rob, Mark, Ivy, Pat and Stephen), you can get a range of presentations. Mary Katharine wins cool points for taping the speeches, even if her battery eventually petered out. Plus, she uses a MacBook. (Wait - does that make her cool, or a cultist?)
One of the running threads in the comments was how the budget vote would show whether Democrats were serious when they campaigned on fiscal restraint and low taxes. A vote for the Democratic alternative is a vote for more spending (at a time when domestic discretionary spending has risen dramatically) and for higher taxes. Democrats who talk one way at home and then vote for the Pelosi budget need to tell their constituents why they flip flopped.
The Hill notes that the NRCC is going to hold their feet to the fire:
Republicans say this vote will be a test for freshman Democratic members from traditionally red districts, a factor the NRCC intends to exploit.
“After masking themselves as agents of fiscal responsibility, many Democrats had their cover blown after last week’s pork-stuffed supplemental proved to protect more peanuts and tropical fish than troops in the field and veterans at home,” said NRCC spokesman Ken Spain. “Now they mistakenly think they can get away with voting for the largest tax increase in American history. This is an assault on the pocketbooks of middle-class Americans that will not be allowed to go unnoticed in their districts back home.”
Targeted Democratic members include Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tim Mahoney (Fla.), Jason Altmire (Pa.), Zack Space (Ohio), Patrick Murphy (Pa.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Nancy Boyda (Kan.), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), Steve Kagen (Wis.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.) and Stephanie Herseth (S.D.)
The nature of a slim majority is that Members in swing districts have to take 'brave' votes. Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky became very well-known when she bravely cast the deciding vote for President Clinton's largest tax increase in American history. She was also defeated after just one term. There are several Freshmen Democrats who might cast a fatal brave vote today. And considering that some had to vote last week for the forced surrender, and some may have to vote for immigration amnesty and specific tax increases, they'll have a lot to answer for in the next election.
Tom Reynolds mentioned for example, that Kirsten Gillibrand sits in the most Republican seat in New York currently held by a Democrat. He noted there are already strong challengers emerging to her. She's already giving them campaign issues. Several other Democrats are doing the same.
(By the way, the picture is of Congressman John Campbell - who was impressive. It was taken by Rob Bluey. I figured I'd put up that one so interested readers could see what my arm looks like.)