Aug. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Pelosi’s Restless Team Seeks Voice

They have an ally in Hoyer, who is both a moderate and an institutionalist. He convenes a weekly meeting of chairmen, often prodding them to keep up with timelines set by leadership in order to maintain control of issues under their jurisdiction. Asked on Tuesday about a return to regular order, Hoyer called it a “very important pursuit.”

“Regular order gives to everybody the opportunity to participate in the process in a fashion which will effect, in my opinion, the most consensus and best product,” he said.

Hoyer has raised the issue with Pelosi and received encouraging feedback, senior Democratic aides said.

But Pelosi spent the past two years demonstrating her ability to translate her will into action, often by seizing the initiative from her chairmen.

In the 110th Congress, Pelosi frequently outmaneuvered Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), including on negotiations to expand children’s health insurance, in that case using a process that Rangel complained left the House “cut off at the knees.”

And she squared off with then-Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) over the direction of energy policy, undercutting his jurisdiction by creating the Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee. The panel has no legislative authority, but its establishment sent a clear signal.

Later that year, Pelosi executed an end-around the veteran Michigan Democrat to secure passage of a landmark energy bill that tightened fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, prompting Dingell to gripe on the floor, “I have some reservations, to put it mildly, about how this legislation was assembled.”

Dingell is one of a handful of Democrats unaffiliated with either of the moderate caucuses to sign on to the letter to Hoyer.

On the whole, the Brookings Institution found in a recent report, House Democrats in the 110th Congress “considered legislation under fewer open rules and many more closed rules than any of their six Republican predecessors” and were “at least as willing to forego committee deliberations and bring unreported bills directly to the floor under special rules as their Republican counterparts.”

And Democratic leaders “almost banished conference committees altogether” in the second session, the institution found.

It is not yet clear what will provide the next litmus test of Pelosi’s commitment to taking a more hands-off approach under the new order. Some strategists suggested that as Pelosi develops a working relationship with Obama, taking a more deliberative approach to legislating could help protect her prerogatives against potentially competing priorities from the White House.

Others were not convinced. Said one senior Democratic aide: “She’s a control freak.”

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