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November 27, 2014

Posts in "Ranking Member Fights"

November 19, 2014

Walz Gets VA Committee Spot After Messy Process

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Walz will serve again on Veterans’ Affairs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sometimes a consolation prize makes all the difference, Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz learned Wednesday.

After party leaders appeared to have blocked the Minnesota Democrat from running for ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Walz — who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress — ended up getting much of what he wanted anyway.

He will be on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the 114th Congress, and he will have a larger role with veterans service organizations. Full story

CBC Rallies to Defend Brown, Democrats’ Seniority System

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Brown, who had the most seniority, is the new ranking member of the VA Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday was a good day for the Congressional Black Caucus: In just a matter of hours, the powerful group saw Democrats’ seniority system — a tradition that has long protected minority lawmakers from being passed over for leadership positions — prevail not once, but twice.

First, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. — the No. 3 Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee — beat the No. 5 panel Democrat, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California, in the race to be ranking member.

He’s not a member of the CBC, but Pallone showed that lawmakers had no intention of bowing to pressure from some party leaders, such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to disregard the House Democratic Caucus’s deference to the decades-old seniority precedent. Full story

Pallone Defeats Eshoo for Energy and Commerce Slot (Updated)

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Pallone topped Eshoo, 100-90. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:57 p.m. | In a triumph for the seniority system and a blow to Nancy Pelosi’s clout, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey beat Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California in a hard-fought race for ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Eshoo had Pelosi’s support and won the backing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Tuesday afternoon, but the full caucus early Wednesday morning voted to give the plum assignment to Pallone.

The final tally was 100-90. Full story

Messy Fight for Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Slot (Updated)

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Brown, left, and Walz, center, each are vying for the ranking member position on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:28 a.m. | Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota thought there would be a vote after Thanksgiving on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member race. As it turns out, his face-off against Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida will happen on Wednesday.

It gives Walz less time than he and his allies said they anticipated to build support around his uphill challenge of Brown, who benefits from seniority and the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a member.

Before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee can meet to vote on a recommendation to the full House Democratic Caucus, Walz will have to clear an additional hurdle: A vote on whether he is even eligible to hold the post.

Walz is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress and has had a seat at the Veterans’ Affairs Committee table since 2007. He is, however, on the committee via waiver, and his opponents say it doesn’t qualify him to run against Brown, who after nearly two decades on the committee is next in line to succeed the current retiring ranking member, Michael H. Michaud of Maine. Full story

Luján Pledges to Bring Farmer’s Work Ethic to DCCC

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Luján, right, will bring a quiet intensity to his job as Israel’s replacement at the DCCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has ruffled plenty of feathers lately, reclaimed some goodwill with her caucus Monday, bypassing more established members to name Ben Ray Luján the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

It won’t erase all of the negativity percolating among her flock — demoralized after Election Day and antsy over the stasis at the leadership table — but the decision to elevate the New Mexico Democrat is being called “smart” and “savvy,” even by those who count themselves among Pelosi’s critics.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the top Democrat on Financial Services, said Pelosi’s pick was “refreshing” and “lovely.” Full story

November 18, 2014

Eshoo Wins Backing of Steering and Policy Committee Over Pallone

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Eshoo and Pallone are vying for the ranking membership of the Energy and Commerce Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California has won the recommendation of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee to be the next ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee — but she’s not out of the water yet.

At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the full caucus will vote between her and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, closing the chapter on what has been the most fraught committee leadership race of the cycle. Full story

November 17, 2014

High Stakes for Pelosi, Party With Energy and Commerce Fight

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Eshoo and Pallone are locked in a race for the Energy and Commerce ranking member slot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:50 a.m. | It started as a race to choose the next ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; it could ultimately end as a referendum on the status quo.

When House Democrats finally settle the score this week, their choice between Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California could send a strong message about how deeply members still hew to the seniority system.

And in a caucus growing increasingly antsy over the stasis at the leadership table, this ranking member election could be the closest thing to an up-or-down vote on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that members get for the next two years.

Pelosi, who has repeatedly endorsed her close friend Eshoo, is expected to run unopposed for a sixth full term as the House’s top Democrat.

Lawmakers will not say so publicly, but many of them think that if Eshoo loses, it will be because she became a casualty of greater frustrations within the caucus.

The fight sparked by California Democrat Henry A. Waxman’s retirement announcement in January became so dramatic because there was never a clear front-runner or an easy choice. Stakeholders agree Pallone and Eshoo’s policy positions are nearly identical, and their legislative records are unblemished.

So members were forced to consider other factors: Who called them first to ask for their vote? Who gave them money in a tough re-election bid? Who has always been their friend? Full story

November 13, 2014

Black Caucus Defends Seniority System as Members Try to Buck the Trend

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Don’t undercut seniority, warns Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Fudge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Black Caucus is fighting back against new suggestions — particularly coming from the very top of House Democratic leadership ranks — that seniority ought not be the be-all-end-all when it comes to doling out plum committee leadership assignments.

Spearheaded by outgoing Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, the CBC sent out a “dear colleague” email Thursday night to reiterate its support for seniority “as the primary determinant in the committee leadership selection process.”

Under the current system, the CBC would be represented at the top of seven House committees — a record CBC members contend was only possible because seniority prevents black lawmakers from being passed over, intentionally or otherwise.

Fudge’s email comes as the conference weighs a ranking-member race on Energy and Commerce between the more-senior Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has endorsed her close friend Eshoo multiple times over the past 10 months, on Monday going so far as to send out a letter of her own, calling seniority “a consideration” but “not a determination.”

The real test for the CBC, however, could be if one of its own members, Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida, loses the ranking member spot on Veterans’ Affairs to the least-senior member of the panel, Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota. Full story

November 12, 2014

Grijalva Faces Clear Path to Natural Resources Ranking Member

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva is making his second bid in a year for ranking member on the Natural Resources Committee — but this time, he appears poised to win.

In a caucus that values seniority, the Arizona Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has one lawmaker ahead of him — Rep. Grace F. Napolitano of California — in the panel hierarchy.

Last week, Napolitano said she had not yet made any decisions about whether she would run to replace Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., who wants to be the ranking member on Transportation and Infrastructure. But Napolitano’s spokesman said Wednesday night that the congresswoman spoke with Grijalva earlier in the day and she had given him her endorsement. Full story

November 10, 2014

Pelosi Downplays Seniority System in Endorsing Anna Eshoo for Committee Assignment

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Ranking member rivals Eshoo and Pallone. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On Monday afternoon, and for the third time this year, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed her close friend and fellow Californian Rep. Anna G. Eshoo for ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee — and said House Democrats should consider seniority “a consideration” but “not a determination” in doling out committee leadership assignments.

The minority leader’s suggestion that colleagues loosen up on a long-held deference to the seniority system in regards to Eshoo’s bid against the more senior Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey is likely to ruffle feathers across the House Democratic Caucus.

It might be particularly irksome to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which sees seniority as a way to protect their own from being passed over for chairman and ranking member slots. Full story

November 7, 2014

Tim Walz Challenges Corrine Brown For Veterans’ Affairs Seat

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Walz seeks leadership role on Veterans’ Affairs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tim Walz will seek the ranking member seat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, setting up a potentially ugly fight when House Democrats are still reeling from Election Day losses.

At first blush, Walz is an ideal candidate. The Minnesota Democrat is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress. Though he’s technically the least senior member on the committee — he gets a waiver to sit at the bottom of the roster so he can continue serving on two other panels — he’s actually the third longest-serving member there. He’s more moderate than others in his party and veterans’ services organizations think he can work well across the aisle if need be, a Democratic aide said.

A source familiar with Walz’s thinking told CQ Roll Call he has informed leadership of his intention to run and, if elected by his peers, would gladly give up one of his current committee assignments — most likely Transportation and Infrastructure.

But Walz’s real obstacle is that he’s going up against Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., who is the next in line for the job with current ranking member Michael H. Michaud, D-Maine, retiring at the end of the year. Full story

November 6, 2014

Power Plays: House Gavel and Ranking Member Battles (Updated)

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Utah’s Chaffetz is one of dozens of lawmakers jockeying for leadership roles on House committees. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Nov. 17, 11:18 a.m. | As the 114th Congress begins to take shape, members of the House from both parties are angling for new roles on committees. CQ Roll Call is following every twist and turn in this running tally.

Get started with our guide to the GOP chairmanship fights. Check out our reporting from last week on House GOP leadership elections and stay tuned for the results of the Democrats’ leadership votes this week.

We’ve been chronicling the Energy and Commerce ranking member race all year, and the exciting conclusion is now just days away. But with a strengthened Republican majority, it’s a whole new landscape for Democrats — who might remain in the minority for awhile.

Here’s a list of who wants what and the contests shaping up for open committee seats on both sides of the aisle. We’ll update it frequently to reflect the races where two or more candidates have emerged — and instances where challengers have dropped their bids.

Armed Services 

— Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, for chairman, possibly fielding a challenge from J. Randy Forbes R-Va.

Energy and Commerce

— Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., vs. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., for ranking member.

Financial Services

— Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. (Rep. Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., at one point had said he was considering a challenge, but he has since decided against it.) Full story

What Election Night Meant for House Democratic Leadership

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Pelosi  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite midterm losses of at least 13 House seats, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is unlikely to face any serious calls to step down as the leader of the Democratic Caucus, party insiders tell CQ Roll Call.

Members, aides and operatives say Pelosi and all of her lieutenants are expected to be unopposed in their bids to retain leadership posts.

By Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the GOP convincingly claimed control of the Senate and tightened its grip on the House, Pelosi was telling colleagues she would run for re-election as leader.

But just because the 2014 midterm elections won’t precipitate a systematic takedown of the current leadership team doesn’t mean the results won’t reverberate across the caucus.

Here are three ways Tuesday’s grim showing will impact the caucus in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Full story

November 5, 2014

Garamendi Challenging DeFazio for Transportation and Infrastructure

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Garamendi, right, asked colleagues to pick him for ranking member on Transportation and Infrastructure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi is challenging Rep. Peter A. DeFazio for the ranking member slot on Transportation and Infrastructure.

DeFazio was considered a shoe-in after the Tuesday night defeat of ranking member Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia. But now DeFazio is facing a fight.

Both Garamendi, of California, and DeFazio, of Oregon, were re-elected Tuesday.

Full story

Grijalva Eyes Comeback Bid on Natural Resources Committee

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Grijalva is eyeing another bid to be ranking member of Natural Resources. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After falling short last year, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva will try to win the ranking member slot of the Natural Resources Committee for a second time, the Arizona Democrat’s office confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

He’ll likely be facing off against a more senior member of the committee, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-Calif., whose spokesman said she is “considering all options and hasn’t ruled anything out.”

In a caucus that’s grappling with its long-standing deference to the seniority system as new members begin to outnumber the old guard, Grijalva could even end up challenging Democratic Del. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega from American Samoa, who is more senior than the two of them and agreed to stand down in a race for ranking member on the Foreign Affairs panel in 2012. Full story

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