Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, was one of only six House Democrats to vote “no” yesterday on H.Res.5, which adopts rules for the 111th Congress including dampening the “motion to recommit” power Republicans wielded so often in the 110th Congress to sideline Democratic bills, as well as repealing committee chair term limits. The resolution passed on a 242-181 vote.
“As our economy continues to struggle it’s essential that policymakers have the fiscal flexibility to enact proposals that not only generate job creation, but protect the millions of families who have been caught in the worst recession in generations,” Woolsey told me today. “While pundits speculate on the size of the eventual economic recovery package, they are ignoring the fact that it will likely take a series of steps before our economy is back on track, not just one vote — no matter how large it is. Unfortunately, the rules package proposed yesterday could limit our ability to undertake such necessary steps by allowing future recovery proposals to be conditional on pay-go rules, making them vulnerable to political maneuvering and grandstanding.”
Her stance certainly seems in line with her status as co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which was calling for a $1 trillion stimulus package long before most in Washington thought that could be a reality.
But interestingly, only two of the other five who opposed this bill are CPC members – Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and Ed Pastor, D-Ariz. – while the rest are decidedly more centrist: Brian Baird, D-Wash., is a member of the New Democrat Coalition; Mike Michaud, D-Maine, is a Blue Dog Coalition member; and freshman Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, represents one of the nation’s most Republican districts to be held by a Democrat. Those three were almost certainly more concerned with getting blowback from their more moderate constituencies than with retaining the ability to do unfettered stimulus spending. S’funny how such different political and policy concerns can align.
Meanwhile, conservatives — represented in this case by Americans for Limited Government — issued a news release today blasting Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, for voting for the bill, even though he was but one of the 242 Democrats supporting it.
“Congressman McNerny [sic] has chosen to serve Nancy Pelosi over the people in his own district by voting for rules changes that have but one intent: to gag the House Republican Minority and reduce it to the relative status of abject acquiescence no matter what shenanigans the Majority decides to pull,” ALG President Bill Wilson said in his release. “Congressman McNerny [sic] deserves nothing but scorn for deliberately undermining the spirit and the letter of the two-party system that has served our democracy so well. He obviously only thinks we need one party. And that’s a bitter recipe for totalitarian rule.”
First of all, perhaps ALG should “know thine enemy” well enough to spell his name correctly.
But more important, the complaint and it’s target just don’t ring true. As with so many other votes, McNerney is being singled out and taken to task solely because he remains on conservatives’ “hit list” of Democrats potentially vulnerable to Republican challenges. (You wouldn’t see ALG issuing a release like this against Barbara Lee or Pete Stark.) And, given that McNerney capped Republican challenger Dean Andal in November 55 percent to 45 percent despite a slight but ever narrowing Republican voter registration edge in the 11th District, you’ve gotta wonder whether it’s time for ALG to update its target list.