Although the House also must complete work on its fiscal 2007 appropriations bills — a continuing resolution is expected to fund the federal government until Feb. 15 — Hoyer said those spending bills will be addressed after the initial agenda is accomplished.
“The current leadership of the Congress has failed to meet its responsibilities, and they have left us to pick up their mess,” Hoyer said, noting that he intends to speak with incoming Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.). “We will have to figure out how best to do that.”
In addition, the House also must approve a new rules package, although Hoyer noted that legislation will not be considered as part of the 100-hours agenda. Although Democrats have vowed to be more respectful of the rights of the minority party, arguing that GOP leaders manipulated House rules and voting procedures during their 12 years in power, Hoyer said Tuesday that Republicans would not be intimately involved in crafting the Rules package
“We would like to have the participation and cooperation of our Republican colleagues, so certainly we are going to discuss it with them,” Hoyer said. “I think negotiation might not be necessarily, however, what we have in mind.”
He later added: “We intend to try to make sure that Representatives of Congress, given the constraints of a body of 435 people — where everybody can’t have an amendment, everybody can’t have five hours of debate; you would never get any work done — but we intend to have a Rules Committee ... that gives opposition voices, and alternative proposals the ability to be heard and considered on the floor of the House.”
In the meantime, Democrats likely will hold off on approving an overhaul of their own internal Democratic Caucus rules until the January session begins.
Rep. Mike Capuano (Mass.), who oversaw the update as chairman of the Caucus Committee on Organization, Study and Review, said Monday, “At the moment, it seems to make sense to do all the rules at one time.”
The Massachusetts lawmaker said waiting to approve the rules changes will not affect selection of committee chairmen or committee assignments, however.
“Most of the stuff was all cleanup,” Capuano said, noting that the Caucus rules had not been updated since Democrats previously held the majority. “I don’t think we suggested any substantive changes.”
The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee began meeting with would-be chairmen on Tuesday afternoon, starting with the exclusive Appropriations, Ways and Means, Financial Services and Energy and Commerce panels. The Caucus is slated to ratify those selections, as well as the Rules and Budget committee chairmanships, at a meeting this morning.
In addition, Pelosi met with current ranking members Tuesday to discuss the upcoming legislative calendar, including the 100-hours agenda.
In advance of his meeting with the Steering panel, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the presumptive chairman of the Financial Services Committee next year, said Tuesday that staff-level discussions have taken place, and predicted there will be “a very well-coordinated mission” among the 21 committee chairmen, although he declined to elaborate.