With Election Day upon us, Democrats nationwide are pinning their hopes on picking up enough seats in both the US Senate and House races to give them majorities so that they can wrest legislative control from Republicans and political control from the Bush Administration. Part of the electoral prize if Democrats can pick up an additional 15 seats in the House and claim the majority is that their selection as Speaker, most probably Left Coast Liberal Nancy Pelosi (the current House Minority Leader), will get to choose the chairman for 25 separate House committees.
If Democrats are successful in taking control in the House, Pelosi will be the first female Speaker of the House and the first Democrat to take over the Speaker’s chair since voters cast Democrats into the political wilderness in 1994. As she made clear in an interview with Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, “Speaker” Pelosi intends to remake congressional politics in her own image. The primary means by which she will do that will be through her appointment of committee chairmen.
With that in mind, it would be prudent to take a quick look at who “Speaker” Pelosi would probably choose to head up the most important House committees for the 110th Session of Congress:
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence – Alcee Hastings (FL-23)
This election has clearly been defined by the national security issue and the war in Iraq. It should be remembered that one of the contributing factors to 9/11 is that our intelligence agencies failed to respond to the escalating threat of al-Qaeda. This is what makes the House Intelligence Committee so important. And yet, the Washington Post reported two weeks ago that Nancy Pelosi intends to pass over the current ranking Democrat on the committee, Jane Harman, in favor of her friend, Alcee Hastings, for chairman of this critical committee. Harman has come under attack from members of her own party because of her strong support for Israel; Hastings, on the other hand, has the dubious distinction of being only one of six federal judges to be impeached in American history after he was caught taking a $150,000 bribe in exchange lenient sentencing of two convicts (be sure to read Jacob Laksin’s June 2006 FrontPage profile of Hastings, “A Profile in Corruption”). But having been tossed from the bench in 1989 (when Nancy Pelosi voted to impeach him), Hastings ran for and won his congressional seat in 1992, riding the Clinton Wave (which two years later crashed on the shores of the Republican Revolution). Since then, Hastings has risen through the Democratic ranks and is the front-runner for the Intelligence chairmanship in the event of a Democratic takeover in the House. Remember, this is the same committee that in September had a Democratic staffer fired for releasing sensitive national security information to the media to embarrass the Bush Administration. Expect even more of the same if Hastings gets access to the deepest secrets of our intelligence community.
Committee on Appropriations – David Obey (WI-7)
One of Pelosi’s biggest fans, in 2004 Obey hailed Pelosi as “our Maggie Thatcher”. While the Appropriations committee is hardly the sexy assignment as Intelligence or Judiciary, Obey has always taken his orders from his Democratic Party masters and “obeyed” his leaders in the House. Like his votes in the early days of the Clinton Administration (when Democrats still ruled in Congress), when he voted seven times to slash the intelligence budget and was an accomplices to Clinton’s dismantling of the American military under the guise of the “peace dividend” to pay for the Democratic social spending spree of the Clinton Era. And if Democrats are in fact returned to power, Obey has promised to make one of his primary initiatives his goal of making individual contributions to a political candidate a federal crime, which would give unprecedented power to the political parties (read – Democrats) in our political system, and responding to what he calls “our biggest national security threat” – global warming.
Committee on Armed Services – Ike Skelton (MO-4)
Usually one of the more sensible members among House Democrats, Skelton has nonetheless been prone to wild swings on the issues. Despite being one of the most forceful voices in favor of going to war in Iraq, just a few weeks ago he joined Democrat Cut-and-Run Caucus Chairman John Murtha in calling for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq – this from a Congressman who was quoted by the Washington Post in 2003 as saying, “We cannot leave Iraq. This has to be a success. If it’s not a success, the credibility of the United States of America as a leader in this free world will hit rock bottom. We cannot allow that.” Skelton vowed that if Democrats come into power, he intends to wrest control of military policy from the Bush Administration (the Executive Branch being given that power by the US Constitution) and involve Congress (read – Democrats) more in the management and oversight of the military.
Committee on the Budget – John Spratt (SC-5)
One of the more vulnerable Democrats this election, Spratt is facing a tough reelection campaign in a conservative district that has voted overwhelmingly in favor of President Bush in the past two presidential elections. It hasn’t helped that Spratt is Nancy Pelosi’s right-hand man, serving as her the Assistant to the Democratic Leader, which hasn’t played well back in his district. His opponent, Ralph Norman, has noted that while Spratt was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote in favor of the presidential line-item veto during the Clinton Administration, which he said was “absolutely necessary if we want to get our finances in order up in Washington,” according to columnist Robert Novak, this past July he quickly fell into line on Pelosi’s orders to reverse his position and oppose Republican efforts to pass Spratt’s own proposal for a limited presidential line-item veto. While claiming in his campaign that he has worked to repeal estate taxes, Spratt early this year voted against making those tax cuts permanent (maybe it was one of those “I voted for it before I voted against it”). Another agenda item not sitting well with Spratt’s constituents is his join proposal with Pelosi to raise taxes to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief last year. That was one of the contributing reasons why the National Taxpayer’s Union last year gave Spratt a grade of “F” as one of the “Biggest Spenders” in Congress.
Committee on Energy and Commerce – John Dingell (MI-15)
Dingell grew up the privileged son of a Congressman and is currently the longest serving member in the House of Representatives. According to an editorial last month in the Washington Times, in his role as chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee, Dingell intends to revisit the passage of the Medicare prescription-drug plan by launching an investigation to see what role drug companies played in the Republican proposal. Also at the top of Dingell’s agenda is his long-standing plan to nationalize America’s health care – a proposal he inherited from his father from the New Deal days that he introduces at the beginning of each congressional session.
Committee on Financial Services – Barney Frank (MA-4)
During the recent Mark Foley scandal, it was ironic to see the mainstream media, such as Newsweek, interviewing Barney Frank on congressional sex scandals. Observers might recall that Frank was censured by the House in 1990 when it was discovered that his homosexual lover was running a male prostitution ring out of Frank’s Washington D.C. home. But that is far from Frank’s only scandal, such as his opposition earlier this year to the Respect for Fallen Heroes Act that prohibits protests in national cemeteries during funerals for soldiers killed in action. Frank was only one of three House members to oppose the law. Equally as appalling was Frank’s role in the early 1990s (when Democrats still controlled Congress) of implementing rules that kept Immigration and Customs officials from stopping Islamic militants from entering the US on visas (see Rocco DiPippo’s detailed FrontPage exclusive, “Immigrating Terror,” for Frank’s role in revising immigration laws).
Committee on International Relations – Tom Lantos (CA-12)
One of Nancy Pelosi’s fellow San Francisco liberals, Tom Lantos (see his DiscoverTheNetworkorg profile) is a rarity among Democrats for his long-time support of Israel and his vocal opposition to international anti-Semitism, which should come as no surprise from a Holocaust survivor. And yet, when it comes to other threats to America and freedom abroad, Lantos has turned a blind eye. For instance, in 2002 he added his name to a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell complaining of the human rights abuses by the Columbian government in their war against the Marxist, drug-financed FARC guerillas, who have waged a bloody terrorist campaign in that country, and demanding that US funds for drug-interdiction efforts to Columbia be cut. No mention was made in the letter, however, about the atrocities committed by FARC. And as a member of the far-Left Progressive Caucus (founded by Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders, and currently chaired by Dennis Kucinich), Lantos is recognized as one of the most liberal members of Congress, one of the few to receive a perfect 100 percent score from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He has also received top marks from labor unions and educrats alike, particularly for his opposition to school vouchers for inner-city children trapped in failing schools.
Committee on Government Reform – Henry Waxman (CA-30)
During the Clinton era, it was Henry Waxman’s job as ranking Democrat on the Government Reform committee to obstruct Republicans’ investigations in the scandal-ridden Clinton Administration (as Chris Weinkopf described in his 2002 FrontPage article, “Regarding Henry”). During that time, Waxman’s position was “see no evil, here no evil, speak no evil” regarding the rampant corruption within the Clinton White House. But now with Waxman within striking distance of the committee chairmanship and a Republican occupying the Oval Office, he has embraced the “government ethics” religion, vowing to open up investigations on a number of fronts targeting the Bush Administration. But as FrontPage editor Ben Johnson explained last year, one investigation that Republicans might want to explore if they are successful in maintaining control of the House is Waxman’s role in assisting a number of radical Leftist organizations in delivering $600,000 in “aid” into Iraqi camps near Fallujah while US forces were trying to clear the area of insurgents, where Waxman gave his radical friends a letter to ensure that their “aid” coming into the area did not receive scrutiny by security personnel.
Committee on the Judiciary – John Conyers (MI-14)
Even though Nancy Pelosi said on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago that if Democrats won control of the House, impeachment would “be off the table,” it’s clear that she has had trouble convincing John Conyers, her choice to head the Judiciary committee, of that. Earlier this year he was asking on his congressional website for public support in forming an independent committee to gather evidence to be used as grounds for impeachment of President Bush, promising to “end the George Bush regime in the United States of America.” Also on Conyers’ agenda would be pushing through legislation for slavery reparations – a pet cause that Conyers has been pushing since 1989. As the representative for the most heavily Muslim-populated area of the country, it is no surprise that Conyers is one of the most anti-Israel, anti-war members of Congress. Regularly ranked as one of the most liberal member of Congress, Conyers has associated himself with a number of extremist groups, including the Marxist pro-North Korean front group, International A.N.S.W.E.R., and even speaking in March 2005 at a rally to raise money for anti-Semitic, conspiracy theorist, and perennial presidential candidate, Lyndon LaRouche.
Committee on Ways and Means – Charlie Rangel (NY-15)
If Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats are successful in getting enough seats to put them in the majority, the front man for Speaker Pelosi’s efforts to repeal the Bush tax cuts (which economic experts have identified as a major contributor to the post-9/11 recovery) will be Charlie Rangel. But not only will he work to repeal the legislation that has cut the taxes of millions of seniors, working families and single mothers, Rangel has made it clear that tax hikes will be the order of the day for a Democratically-controlled House. When he was asked by Congress Daily PM in September if across-the-board tax increases would be part of the Democratic Party majority agenda, Rangel replied, “No question about it.” But in recent days as the election has grown near, Democrats in tight House races have been frantic to get Rangel talking to the mainstream media (such as this Washington Post article last week) assuring voters that all of his promises over the past six months to rollback the Bush tax cuts had been misinterpreted. But the Washington Times noted last month how frequently Rangel changes his position on ending tax cuts and imposing tax hikes depending on who his audience is. Americans should not be fooled – Charlie Rangel is no friend to the American taxpayer.
We will learn if Democrats have been victorious in convincing the American electorate that they are the party that best represents the American mood. Most pollsters are saying the race for control of Congress is too close to call. Sadly, most voters will never get to vote in competitive congressional elections because of how both parties have carved up each state map to preserve their respective political power.
But for voters who are in districts with tight congressional races, they should know that what is at stake is not only who will represent them in Washington, but who will control the political machinery in Washington. If Democrats get a majority of House seats, Speaker Pelosi has her best men – all of whom will be beholden to her for their powerful committee chairmanships, not the voters who elected them – ready and waiting to take America in a very different direction. In looking closely at Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Party All-Star Team roster, Americans who are demanding change in Washington D.C. had better be careful. They may get exactly what they voted for.
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