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Anna Eshoo won’t lead Energy & Commerce Dems

Rep. Anna Eshoo has lost her bid to use Silicon Valley’s innovation allure to leapfrog ahead of a more senior peer and become the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking Democrat.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – who had backed Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, for the job in a letter to Democrats this month – announced Wednesday that the Democratic Caucus instead had approved Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., as that panel’s ranking member. Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is a close friend and political ally of Pelosi’s; several news outlets say the vote was 100-90 for Pallone, a blow to Pelosi’s clout within her own caucus.

“I congratulate Frank Pallone on a hard fought campaign and congratulate Anna Eshoo for raising the issue of innovation to a level that all members appreciate,” said Pelosi, D-San Francisco. “We look forward to working with both of these members as we move forward.”

Pallone tweeted Wednesday that he’s “Honored to be chosen next leader of @EnergyCommerce by my colleagues. Look forward to continuing our work on behalf of the American people.”

Eshoo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Eshoo had announced she wanted the job in early February, a few days after the current ranking member – Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles – announced he would retire from the House this year. The committee “is key to shaping America’s future, just as my Silicon Valley congressional district is,” she said at the time.

“We have the depth and the talent to shape policies that will build a strong economy for every American, with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to advanced research, communications, technology, health care, energy and the environment,” she had said. “It is because of this far-reaching opportunity to put America in the best position to compete globally I seek this position.”

Though both have been in the House since 1993, Pallone has served on the committee since then while Eshoo has been a member since 1997. Eshoo in this term has served as ranking member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, while Pallone was ranking member of the Health Subcommittee.

Pallone had House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on his side, creating a visible rift in the House Democratic leadership in this fight.

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Anna Eshoo wants top spot on Energy & Commerce

A Silicon Valley congresswoman is making a play to become ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, even though other Democrats of more or equal seniority might want the job too.

And though Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, probably feared little in seeking re-election a twelfth term this year, her Republican opponent announced Sunday that she’s dropping out of the race.

Eshoo issued a news release Monday noting Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, now the ranking Democrat on Energy and Commerce, announced last week that he’ll retire at the end of this year after 40 years in Congress.

“Since then I have received the encouragement of members of the Committee and the Caucus to seek this position,” Eshoo said. “Today, I am announcing my decision to seek the top slot at Energy and Commerce. I do so with great enthusiasm because it is the ‘Committee of the Future’ and the most dynamic by its jurisdictions. It is key to shaping America’s future, just as my Silicon Valley congressional district is.”

Eshoo, 71, said she’ll be talking with colleagues in coming weeks “to share my vision and hear theirs.”

“We have the depth and the talent to shape policies that will build a strong economy for every American, with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to advanced research, communications, technology, health care, energy and the environment,” she said. “It is because of this far-reaching opportunity to put America in the best position to compete globally I seek this position.”

But another Energy and Commerce Committee member – Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. – has been in Congress since 1955 and has chaired the panel before. Now 87, Dingell lost the chairmanship to Waxman in a Democratic caucus vote. Already the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history, he hasn’t said yet whether he’s running for a 31st term in 2014 and wants the chairmanship back.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. – who like Eshoo was elected to the House in 1992 – definitely wants the post as well.

“For over 20 years, I have remained deeply committed to advancing the goals of our great committee on which I have had the honor of serving as the chair or ranking member of three of our six subcommittees,” Pallone said in a news release issued Monday. “As the person tasked with developing the Democratic Caucus’ message on the House Floor, I believe I would be the most effective voice to lead the committee toward a successful future.”

Pallone is playing up his bipartisanship. The committee “will be as active as it has ever been as we address some of the nation’s most pressing issues, which is why having a leader with strong relationships on both sides of the aisle will be crucial to moving forward a meaningful agenda that will improve the health, safety and prosperity of Americans,” he said. “Even in the often divided climate of the last several years, I have worked to find common ground with my colleagues to get things done because I believe that our government can still do good things that will help Americans and make our nation even stronger.

Meanwhile, Wilson Farrar, a Republican from Portola Valley who has been campaigning to unseat Eshoo, sent an e-mail to supporters Sunday announcing that “something quite wonderful precludes me from continuing my campaign for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. It is with happiness and some regret that I have chosen to pursue another path.”

FarrarShe thanked supporters for their “kindness, encouragement, enthusiasm, and philosophical support, which I will treasure always. Truth, Liberty, Justice. Go get ‘em! My heart and spirit are with you!”

Farrar said all campaign contributions will be returned. A report filed to the Federal Election Commission last week showed Farrar raised $1,615 in 2013’s quarter, leaving her campaign with $2,670 cash on hand but a $2,000 debt – money she loaned the campaign from her own pocket.

Eshoo raised almost $178,000 in 2013’s final quarter, leaving her campaign with about $494,700 cash on hand and about $3,276 in debts at the year’s end. No other candidates have raised any money in the 18th Congressional District.

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Today’s Congressional odds and ends

A vote on House Republicans’ bill to repeal last year’s health care reforms is getting all the headlines, but other things are afoot from the Bay Area’s voices in Congress today…

McNerney meets with mayors: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, met today with Danville Mayor Karen Stepper, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena and San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson to discuss proposed transportation infrastructure improvements throughout the Tri-Valley area; the i-GATE iHub initiative, a public-private partnership designed to support the growth of small businesses and clean-energy technologies; emergency preparedness throughout the region; and legislation of importance to local community access television stations.

Boxer applauds homelessness grants: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., touted Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan’s announcement that 801 California organizations – including dozens in the Bay Area – will receive more than $227 million in federal grants to provide housing, job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care to homeless Californians. “Since the recession began, California and the rest of the nation have seen an increase in homelessness. These federal investments will help us combat the epidemic of homelessness so people can get back on their feet and off the streets,” Boxer said. California’s share is about 16 percent of the $1.4 billion total HUD announced today, funded through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Eshoo elected to tech subcommittee post: Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, was elected ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. “My Congressional District, home to Silicon Valley, is the innovation center of the world, and the policies we shape can advance America’s competitiveness and job growth,” said Eshoo, who vowed to work on expanding high-speed, affordable broadband; protecting electronic privacy; freeing up more spectrum; and transitioning our nation’s 911 system to a next generation, IP-based network. Eshoo last week had announced she’ll co-chair a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Internet Caucus.

Pelosi to attend State Dinner: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will be attending tonight’s State Dinner at the White House for Chinese President Hu Jintao. Other Bay Area notables on the long list of expected attendees include Oakland Mayor Jean Quan; San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee; Intel Corp. Paul Otellini and his wife, Sandy; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and his wife, Charlotte; former state Controller and 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly and his wife, Anita Yu; and Obama supporters Azita Raji and Denise Bauer.

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Progressives double down on public option

Progressive Congressional Caucus co-chairs Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, today urging her not to take their 82-member caucus — which also includes Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; George Miller, D-Martinez; and Mike Honda, D-San Jose — for granted as the health care reform debate moves forward.

Woolsey and Grijalva apparently took umbrage at Pelosi’s quote in a Washington Post article yesterday:

But the rebellion from fiscal conservatives on the Energy and Commerce Committee last week served as a political wake-up call for Democratic leaders. With enough votes on the panel and on the floor to sink reform legislation, the Blue Dog Coalition forced Pelosi and Emanuel into concessions that made the government plan similar to private health insurance, sparking a new fight with House liberals.

Sensing that the Blue Dogs had dug in for a prolonged fight, Pelosi and Emanuel gave in to most demands in order to get the legislation moving again. They essentially decided that it was better to pick a fight with their liberal flank, where Pelosi remains popular and where loyalty to Obama is strongest, particularly in the Congressional Black Caucus.

Despite threats from almost 60 progressive House Democrats — who outnumber the Blue Dogs — Pelosi defended the compromise, saying it was similar to one backed by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). Pelosi predicted that the liberal wing would fall in line because the legislation is so important to them.

“Are you asking me, ‘Are the progressives going to take down universal, quality, affordable health care for all Americans?’ I don’t think so,” Pelosi told reporters Friday, breaking into laughter at the question.

It’s no laughing matter, Woolsey and Grijalva wrote in their letter today.

We want to assure you that our continued support is contingent on a robust public plan, similar to what was reported out ofthe Committees on Ways and Means and Education and Labor. Those two committees outline a plan that brings down costs and improves quality, access, and competition. Furthermore, the subsidies included in these bills must be restored, because without these subsidies, health insurance access for many low and middle income families will be effectively cut off. The final bill brought to the House Floor must include these provisions or we will oppose the bill.

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Read the House Democrats’ health reform draft

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, and Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, will be among several chairs holding a press conference shortly on Capitol Hill to unveil their discussion draft for health care reform. The Education and Labor, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees– all with jurisdiction over House health policy – “have been working together as one committee to develop a single bill that fulfills President Obama’s goals of reducing health care costs, protecting and increasing consumers’ choices, and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans,” according to a news release.

If you don’t want to wait another half hour for the draft, read it here right now.