Tag Archives: House Ways And Means Committee

Yes, Having A Democrat Running A Democratic Committee Would Be A Catastrophe

Howie Klein notes that the next in line for the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, should Charlie Rangel succumb to his ethical struggles, is progressive Pete Stark.  This has many on Capitol Hill in a tizzy: including those who should have the loudest voice in determining Democratic chairmanships, anonymous operatives and industry lobbyists.

Next in seniority to Rangel is Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Fortney (Pete) Stark, D-Calif., who is given virtually no chance. “The conventional wisdom is he would have a tough time getting elected chairman,” said a Democrat close to leadership. From suggesting Republicans were sending troops to Iraq to die “for the president’s amusement” to referring to a former GOP lawmaker as a “little fruitcake,” Stark is prone to gaffes, sources said. “The guy behind [Rangel] is just not tenable. Republicans would have a field day,” an industry lobbyist said, while noting the business community would “go nuclear. It would just be open warfare.” A more viable pick might be Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin, D-Mich., who is next in seniority, although sources cautioned the cerebral Levin may be too deliberate for the high-profile job. Levin also appears to relish his duties at the helm of the trade panel. He is also seen as very much in tune with the labor movement, although industry sources said Levin was someone they could work with, as opposed to Stark. Also, the Democratic Caucus still largely respects the seniority system, the Democratic strategist said. “If you make the decision that Stark is too out there, then I don’t see how you go over Sandy,” he said. “He’s been a loyal member, and nobody would doubt he’s got the intellectual and legislative expertise for the job.”

As Matt Stoller notes, there are NINE anonymous sources in this article.  You’d think the people who presume to control Congress and who gets selected for particular committees wouldn’t be so cowardly, would you?  But of course, they just want to be behind the curtain, impervious to political pressure.

As a contrast, Pete Stark is open and honest about his views.  He has paid his dues and he’s next in line for the job.  His “radical” policy ideas include making health care accessible and affordable for every American and opposing a giveaway to the financial services industry.

Howie explains the double standard at work here:

Do you recall any of the Inside the Beltway types viewing a Republican appointee to any job thru the lenses of how that person might be accepted by working families or by organized labor? Or did I miss the issue where CongressDaily suggested that Elaine Chao might be the world’s absolute worst Labor Secretary because she loathes working people and doesn’t recognize their aspirations as legitimate or worthy of her attention?

Did anyone ever question whether one of Congress’ biggest corporate shills on environmental issues, Dirty Dick Pombo, would be unqualified to be Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee because he was unanimously loathed by every single environmental group in the country? And what about that issue of CongressDaily– or any other daily– that pointed out that maybe Joe Barton (R-TX) shouldn’t be chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce because the $1,315,660 in legalized reported bribes he’s taken from Big Oil over the years is far more than any other member of the House, more even than notorious Big Oil puppets like Don Young (R-AK- $964,763), Steve Pearce (R-NM- $804,815), Tom Delay (R-TX- $688,840), and Pete Sessions (R-TX- $582,264), and that all the green energy groups feel that Barton is an integral part of the energy problem in our country and decidedly not part of the solution? No, I must have missed it too.

Indeed.  This might be a good time to contact the Speaker and tell her that Democrats up for Democratic committee chairs shouldn’t be subject to a veto by industry.