Sept. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

House Democrats Cry Foul Over Rejected Mailings

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Rep. Gerry Connolly criticized the House franking commission for rejecting a flier he created about proposed changes to Medicare.

Republicans argue that the commission should have asked for revisions of all of the mailings, said Salley Wood, spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Administration Committee, which oversees the franking commission.

“Given the hyper-partisan tone of several of the pieces the commission has received for review and the misrepresentation of the facts, it’s clear why they haven’t been approved,” Wood wrote in an email. “We will continue to work with the staff of the bipartisan Commission to ensure Members can accurately communicate with their constituents.”

Furthermore, Republicans pointed to fliers that the commission rejected during the health care overhaul debate, when Democrats were in control of the House. GOP Members were asked to remove references to the Democrats’ plan as a “government takeover” or a “government-run” program and to qualify the expression “job killing” as their own opinion.

But in at least one instance, another loaded description — “job crushing” — was permitted.

Democrats argue that they were consistent. “In the health care debate, which spanned a year, we were in constant discussions to try to keep the mail moving,” said Jamie Fleet, Democratic staff director for the House Administration Committee. “Before the New York election there was not a peep from them on how we were characterizing Medicare. Then the election happened and they started to object.”

Connolly and Perlmutter, along with Democratic Reps. Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa) and Joe Courtney (Conn.), sent a letter to Boehner on Tuesday asking him to step in and instruct the franking commission to allow the language.

“This politically motivated censorship undermines our ability to execute one of our primary roles and diminishes the credibility of this institution,” they wrote.

At least a couple of those Members will likely have tough re-election races. Bishop had one of the closest Congressional races of the 2010 cycle, fending off Republican Randy Altschuler by fewer than 600 votes to win a fifth term. Altschuler has indicated that he wants a rematch with Bishop next year.

Boswell is facing off against Rep. Tom Latham (R) as a result of redistricting, and the fate of Perlmutter’s district is up in the air after Colorado lawmakers failed to agree on a compromise for the new Congressional map. The state’s new lines will be decided in court this fall.

“That special election in New York was, I would guess, a pretty big wake-up call,” Boswell told Roll Call. “I have to be suspicious that they have a little protection game going on.”

Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.

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