Earlier this year, Representative Henry Waxman, the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced his retirement, which has sparked a race to replace him as the leader of the panel’s Democrats. Traditionally, the Democratic Caucus places a strong emphasis on seniority in doling out Chairmanships and Ranking Memberships, which means that Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey should be the favored candidate. However, Representative Anna Eshoo of California will nonetheless challenge him. A challenge itself is not unheard of—after all, Waxman defeated the more senior Chairman John Dingell. This particular race is interesting because powerful Members of the Caucus are lining up behind the two different candidates. Former Speaker and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has endorsed Representative Eshoo publicly. However, according to Emma Dumain of Roll Call, wrote that the “Congressional Hispanic Caucus is especially adamant about honoring seniority in committee assignments to ensure slights—accidental or intended—to minority lawmakers who might be next in line for plum committee assignments.” Representative Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, a former Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), said seniority is very important to CBC Members as well.
Will they or won’t they? Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Barack Obama have about three years left to see if they can come up with a compromise on some major issue like immigration or entitlement reform. With so much commentary lamenting the gridlock that afflicts Washington, most people would probably bet that they will not produce a deal. In fact, there are a number of factors working against them. We are running up to midterm elections later this year. The political bases expect their elected officials to toe the party line. And then the politicians themselves do not trust each other. For instance, earlier this week, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said that the President’s attempts to woo them last year “tore down trust” because they “were never serious”. In the face of all this, veteran political reporter Matt Bai suggests they might be able to pull something off. Neither of them, he suggests, would want to leave office and enter the history books without another major achievement. He figures that the Speaker could write off the most conservative wing of his party and bring a coalition of Republicans and Democrats together to pass a deal.
Even if President Obama and Speaker Boehner are unable to broker some kind of deal, they aren’t the only Republicans and Democrats working together to produce something. Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, have teamed up to produce a bill to provide assistance to poorer families who need help with child care. A number of bills have failed to advance over the past couple of months, but the Senate will likely consider the duo’s plan next week.
We are about five months beyond the start of the government shutdown of 2013, but politcos still occasionally parse out who won. According to Shane Goldmacher of National Journal, everybody did! Speaker John Boehner earned the respect of the most conservative wing of his party. The country has gotten its first bipartisan budget in a while. The economy didn’t tank. The Democrats raked in a ton of cash. Senator Ted Cruz acquired even more name recognition. All good points, but Goldmacher forgot one group that gained big: political journalists. They had two weeks of shutdown where stories practically wrote themselves—and even more, if you include the run-up to it. And even now, every so often, they can write stories about who won the shutdown.
And for our latest post: Are Most Members of Congress Really Millionaires?