Three Senate Women Pivotal to Chamber Balance of Power
There are a trio of women whose political fates and positions very much determine the course of Senate business: Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The two Republicans are known as moderates who often provide the Democrats crucial votes to overcome filibusters. Senator Collins’ Maine is a more moderate state, which is represented by two Democrats in the House and an independent who caucuses with the Senate Democrats. Senator Murkowski lost her Republican primary election in 2010, but emerged victorious in the general election as a write-in candidate. “I am very cognizant of how I was returned to the Senate. It was not my party that returned me”, she told National Journal. On the other side of the aisle, Senator Landrieu also plays a delicate balancing act. For instance, although she is running in a state that is unfriendly to President Obama, she has said that she would vote for Obamacare again, but has also touted her proposals to reform the law. Many see the Louisiana election as decisive determining which party will control the Senate.
Benghazi Select Committee Update: Republican Members Named
On Friday, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced the Republican members of the Select Committee on Benghazi. His picks were: Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina as Chairman, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, Representative Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Representative Peter Roskam of Illinois, Representative Martha Roby of Alabama, Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana, and Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas. The members selected ensure that various constituencies from the party are represented. Representatives Westmoreland and Jordan are well liked by conservatives. Representative Roskam is a member of leadership. Representatives Brooks and Roby ensure the participation of women on the panel. The members also hail from committees that have already examined the Benghazi attack.
With the Republican members of the committee named, the Select Committee can formally start to meet. According to conservative columnist Byron York, however, the committee could have been avoided. Not because Republicans are overreaching or tilting at windmills, but because the Administration could have been more forthcoming. He points out that military, State Department and White House officials have all been called upon to testify; however, according to Republicans on the Hill, it is the military that has been the most helpful. “If the rest of the administration had followed the military’s example, the Benghazi controversy would likely be over by now”, York writes.
Boehner Declines to Arrest Lois Lerner—But He Can!
Because we love to discuss the little known rules, conventions and powers of Congress, we bring you this: Speaker of the House John Boehner has declined to arrest former IRS official for her role in targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. On Sunday, the Speaker said that, although Congress can do so, the power had never been used before and he would leave it to the Justice Department to determine whether Lerner should be arrested. The House passed two resolutions last week, one holding Lerner in contempt of Congress and another directing the Justice Department to determine whether criminal charges were appropriate.
And for our latest post: Using the “Pen and Phone” to Blur the Separation of Powers