Tag Archives: House Democrats

Term limits for congressional leaders? Why not?

I dislike the idea of term limits for members of Congress.

However, the idea of imposing such limits on congressional leaders is another matter. To that end, the next speaker of the House of Representatives is on to something constructive.

Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House Democratic caucus, has agreed to serve only two terms as speaker once she takes the gavel in January. She is set to favor a vote among congressional Democrats to impose similar limits on committee chairs, following the lead set by their Republican colleagues.

Pelosi getting push back

I like the notion of imposing those limits on leadership, despite my aversion to mandatory limits on the number of terms House members can serve on Capitol Hill. I have said all along that we already have limits on terms; they occur in the House every two years and every six years for senators. The 2018 midterm election demonstrated quite vividly the power of the electorate to give incumbents the boot.

Congressional leaders, though, aren’t necessarily beholden to the voters for the power they obtain in the halls of Congress. They are beholden to their fellow lawmakers.

Why not enact mandatory regular changes in committee chairmanships — as well as the speaker of the House?

It’s a good call from the new speaker.

Bring on the women!

In 2017, Amarillo voters had the good sense to elect an entirely new City Council, given that the previous one had become so dysfunctional.

Three of the new council members are women, which on a five-member governing body means its majority comprises females.

I commented on my blog at the time about that marvelous turn of events and a couple of soreheads chastised me, suggesting that the presence of a female-majority council didn’t mean a damn thing will change.

Guess what. Now we’re about to welcome more than 100 women to the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s the most ever for Congress’s lower chamber. It’s all the talk in Washington as these individuals get set to take their seats.

The vast majority of the newly elected women are Democrats, so they constitute part of that so-called “blue wave” that swept over Congress, flipping the House from Republican to Democratic control.

I’m wondering now: Where is the thought that these women won’t make a difference, that they won’t have an impact on the flow of legislation, or the topics to be considered?

One of the returning women, Nancy Pelosi of California, is poised to become speaker of the House. She’s “killing” her intraparty foes with promises of committee chairmanships and prioritizing legislative items to their liking. That’s how you play the “inside game” and Speaker-to-be Pelosi is proving to be pretty damn good at it.

I am one American voter who is glad to see women making a greater impact, leaving a bigger and deeper footprint on the nation’s legislative agenda. I remain committed to the notion, too, that a female-majority City Council in the city of my former residence is going to make a positive difference in the community’s future.

Democrats might ignite firestorm if they oust Pelosi

Newly empowered U.S. House Democrats are playing with fire if they find a way to push their longtime congressional caucus leader out of the speakership.

Nancy Pelosi once served as the nation’s (so far) only female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She wants her old job back now that Democrats have retaken control of the People’s House.

But … not so fast, Mme. Presumptive Speaker.

Some of her colleagues want her kicked to the curb. They want “new leadership.”

Let’s ponder this for a moment. The 2018 midterm election resulted in more than 100 women will join the House in January 2019. That makes this the Year of the Woman. Or does it?

I happen to believe Pelosi deserves to become speaker when the new Congress convenes next year. Thus, I want to caution the Democratic insurgents that they are dousing their own message if they manage to boot the veteran lawmaker out of the office she presumes is hers for the taking.

I just learned that one of the Democratic insurgents is U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville, who is casting doubt on Pelosi’s intended speakership. He says he believes “new leadership” is in order.

Yes, that’s a man saying it.

Pelosi’s first tenure as speaker (2007-2011) proved to be successful in terms of her organizational skills and her ability to hold her party caucus together. Indeed, she enjoyed far more success at that aspect of her job than her two Republican successors as speaker — John Boehner of Ohio and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — who had to battle with TEA Party and Freedom Caucus members of their own caucus.

It was on Pelosi’s watch that Democrats were able to enact the Affordable Care Act, legislation I consider to be a success.

So now Democrats think they need “new leadership”? They don’t, even though Pelosi has become a favorite punching bag for Republicans to pummel whenever they can find the opportunity. Indeed, one could hear Pelosi’s name in TV ads criticizing Democratic candidates for Congress. Here’s the catch: One of those Democrats, Colin Allred, had been joined at the hip to Pelosi by North Texas U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions; however, Allred defeated the Republican Sessions in the midterm election.

So, is it really a negative to be led by a speaker who knows how to legislate, how to organize an unruly body of lawmakers? I don’t believe so.

My advice to House Democrats? Be very careful if you seek to topple Nancy Pelosi in this Year of the Woman.

Democrats suffer a gigantic electoral shock

Something happened to U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley’s inexorable march to the chair occupied by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

He got beat! In a Democratic Party primary no less!

His conqueror is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, a first-time political candidate, a self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist,” a community activist who worked the neighborhoods of Queens and The Bronx in New York City.

Crowley had poured lots of money into this race. He outspent Ocasio-Cortez by about 18 to 1. All that money went for naught, given that Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley by double digits Tuesday night.

One problem emerged with Crowley’s re-election effort, just as it did in 2014 when Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his Virginia GOP primary contest. It turns out Crowley was more interested in his own political ambition than in the problems facing the constituents who sent him to Congress in the late 1990s. He wanted to push Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi aside; he kept yapping about the need for “new leadership” among the House Democratic caucus.

His hope has been that Democrats could retake the House this year and he — not Pelosi — would be chosen as the next speaker of the House.

Did he care about the home folks? They spoke Tuesday night and delivered their verdict that, nope, he didn’t give a damn about them.

Is there a lesson here. Yep.

Somewhere, the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill is laughing out loud. It was O’Neill who coined the well-worn phrase: “All politics is local.”

Time for congressman to go


U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah needs to resign his congressional seat.


The Pennsylvania Democrat, convicted of multiple counts of fraud, has violated the trust of his constituents and betrayed the trust of the nation that has to live under the laws he helps approve.

But in a curious twist in a bizarre saga, Fattah said he is waiting to determine a way to create the least possible “distraction” in the House of Representatives.

Listen up, congressman. The best way to avoid distracting your House colleagues is to hit the road. Now!


He vows to fight his conviction through appeal. Fine. He’s entitled to do so. He is not entitled to maintain his presence in the people’s House.

The conviction involves allegations that Fattah sought to enrich himself personally while maintaining his political career.

Fattah has broken the trust of the body he serves. Given that he is one of 435 individuals who enacts federal laws, we all have a stake in the conduct of all its members.

Fattah’s conviction involves allegations that he sought to enrich himself personally while maintaining his political career. The conviction carries a potential decades-long prison term.

Rep. Fattah can fight all he wants to overturn the conviction. He just doesn’t deserve another dime of public money while he’s doing it.

Sit-in reminds us of the old days


Democrats are still protesting on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republicans, meanwhile, have recessed the chamber and have gone home for the next couple of weeks.

What happens now?

I’ve managed to take away a few thoughts from this extraordinary event.

First, we’ve never seen anything like it in Congress, so we have nothing with which to compare it. Democrats decided to put their collective feet down and demand a vote on gun legislation.

They are led by one of the more iconic figures of this country’s civil-rights movement, U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who knows a thing or three about sit-ins, civil disobedience and seeking redress of his grievances against the government.

He also knows a thing or three about getting beaten to within an inch of his life by ham-handed cops intent on putting down these protests.

It’s good that nothing like that has happened on the floor of the House. In some government chambers, such a dispute might result in fists and furniture flying. Have you ever seen how, for example, it has gone in Taipei, where the Taiwanese parliament meets?

Also, House Speaker Paul Ryan shouldn’t have shut down the House while the demonstration was occurring. He ordered the cameras turned off, creating a situation where someone on the House floor violated the rules of the body by photographing the protest through ill-gotten means.

It has prompted some in the media to wonder what might be frightening to the speaker, forcing him to seek to silence the debate. Check this out from the Boston Globe:


Lewis and his fellow demonstrators want a vote on whether to enact gun legislation in the wake of the Orlando, Fla., slaughter of 49 people.

They are demanding a vote! Up or down!

House Republicans — failing to follow the lead of their Senate brethren — are refusing to allow a vote.

From where I sit, the seriously outnumbered Democratic congressional minority is making a reasonable request.

Let’s get that vote — and then carry the debate over gun legislation forward!

Note to Dems: Don't boycott Bibi's speech

The upcoming speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint session of Congress is taking an interesting — and unfortunate — turn.

Some leading Democratic lawmakers say they’re going to stay away from the March 3 speech. They won’t hear what Bibi has to say to them, including whether to impose stricter sanctions on Iran while the U.S. is leading a negotiating effort to end Iran’s nuclear program.

Vice President Biden won’t attend; his office said the VP will be traveling abroad when Netanyahu speaks to the joint session. I can’t help but wonder: Did the vice president schedule the overseas trip before or after Netanyahu’s speech was scheduled?

Don’t go there, Democrats.


Yes, Netanyahu is wrong to have accepted the invitation from Republican House Speaker John Boehner — who also was wrong to invite him without advising the White House. What’s more, Netanyahu is wrong to pressure Congress to act over the objections of the White House, which believes increasing sanctions now would undermine its efforts to disarm the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But is staying away from the speech the right approach to protesting? I’m inclined to think Democrats ought to hear — in person — what the prime minister has to say. They don’t have to stand and cheer when he delivers an applause line; Republicans undoubtedly will do enough cheering to fill the House chamber.

Come on, Netanyahu is the head of government of a leading U.S. ally, after all, and he deserves an audience — even if the invitation he accepted was not in keeping with American diplomatic and political tradition.


Democrats tilting toward form of term limits

My views on mandated term limits for members of Congress are firmly established.

I don’t like the idea. Heck, I am wavering on whether term limits for presidents is such a great idea.

But the House of Representatives Democratic caucus is leaning more and more toward an idea that Republicans have adopted, which is term limits for committee chairs and ranking members.

I am warming up to that idea.


A growing number of House Democrats believe their Republican friends have outflanked them on the notion of injecting new leadership into the congressional ranks.

It’s critical to point out that Republicans run the House with a strong majority that was made even stronger after the 2014 midterm elections. The Democratic reform would involve the placement of top-ranking Democrats on these panels.

Politico reports: “Former Caucus Chairman John Larson, who was term-limited from that slot in 2013, agreed. He praised House Republicans’ six-year limit for people to serve atop committees, although Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has allowed some exceptions.

“’A number of people would say Republicans have struck a better formula for advancement,’ the Connecticut Democrat said. “And I don’t think it’s a bad thing for leadership at all. I mean, it’s verboten to say it, but it’s true and I think even our current leaders would recognize it, all of whom I support.’”

Each party makes its own rules that govern how they do business internally. Republicans have for several years instituted this term-limit rule for its own leadership. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, would in theory surrender his chairmanship after three more terms in the House, unless the speaker grants an exemption.

It’s a way to freshen each committee’s agenda, its leadership style and its focus — while preserving voters’ intentions back home of continuing to be represented by individuals they have re-elected to Congress.

Despite my dislike for term limits, these internal changes make sense to me.

Go for it, House Democrats.