ranking-member-fights

4 Times Paul Ryan Broke Ranks With GOP

Ryan has earned praise for working across the aisle, but that may hurt him with his own party's most conservative members. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan ran for vice president on Mitt Romney’s ticket in 2012, he was known as an Ayn Rand-inspired conservative policy wonk who advocated turning Medicare into a voucher program. A year later, in December 2013, he was heralded as a compromiser for crafting a budget deal with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., that averted another government shutdown.  

If Ryan runs for speaker , as many colleagues have urged, he’ll have to negotiate the legacies of both of those reputations. Ryan was elected to Congress in 1998, and since President Barack Obama has been in office, the Wisconsin Republican has supported him 17 percent of the time — slightly less often than the average House Republican, according to CQ's Vote Watch .  

A Tale of Two Republicans: McCarthy and McConnell

Can McCarthy and McConnell get along? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy knows one way to remain popular with conservatives is to trash the Senate, even if it is led by Republicans. But the California Republican, the front-runner to be the next speaker, will have to work with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to advance mutual interests.  

The two men know each other, but they aren't particularly close. That's in part because of how quickly McCarthy has moved up the House ranks — going from majority whip to majority leader to the cusp of the speakership in a little more than a year. There's also a generational gap: McConnell is 73, McCarthy is 50. McConnell has served in the Senate since 1985, two years before McCarthy started working as district director for Rep. Bill Thomas. McCarthy was elected in 2006 when Thomas retired.  

Pallone Seeks Balance Between Deal-Making, Party Messaging

Pallone is carving out his own legacy on Energy and Commerce. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Several months after winning a competitive race to be ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. wants to downplay the drama.  

The New Jersey Democrat said last year's "showdown" with Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, the California Democrat with whom he shares a corridor in the Cannon House Office Building and whom he calls a friend, wasn't nearly as bruising as outsiders perceived it. "I never thought it was bitter because I don't think it ever got personal, you know? ... I don't want to say it was easy," he said, "but I think it really kind of was easy."  

Cleaver's Civility a Key Part of His Leadership Appeal

Cleaver isn't campaigning to move up into House Democratic leadership, but the Missouri lawmaker is on a lot of short lists if a spot opens. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Every power player in Washington, D.C., has a different metric for what makes a day a success. For one Missouri Democrat, it comes down to whether he was able to do his job without stepping on people.  

“I want to say, ‘I did nothing today to intentionally hurt anybody.’ I want to be able to say that every night,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II said in a recent interview. “If I live that way, people will probably like me." People do like Cleaver, a Methodist minister who attributes much of his political success over the years to having practiced what he’s preached when it comes to treating others with civility.  

Kevin McCarthy, Ben Ray Luján Among Capitol Hill's Big Winners in 2014

McCarthy was one of 2014's big winners. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not every member of Congress had an A+ year.  

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., became the first majority leader in decades to go down in a primary ; Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., only barely avoided being explicitly implicated  for campaign finance fraud.  

Walz Gets VA Committee Spot After Messy Process

Walz will serve again on Veterans' Affairs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sometimes a consolation prize makes all the difference, Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz learned Wednesday.  

After party leaders appeared to have blocked the Minnesota Democrat from running for ranking member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Walz — who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress — ended up getting much of what he wanted anyway.  

CBC Rallies to Defend Brown, Democrats' Seniority System

Brown, who had the most seniority, is the new ranking member of the VA Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday was a good day for the Congressional Black Caucus: In just a matter of hours, the powerful group saw Democrats' seniority system — a tradition that has long protected minority lawmakers from being passed over for leadership positions — prevail not once, but twice.  

First, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. — the No. 3 Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee — beat the No. 5 panel Democrat, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California, in the race to be ranking member.  

Pallone Defeats Eshoo for Energy and Commerce Slot (Updated)

Pallone topped Eshoo, 100-90. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:57 p.m.  | In a triumph for the seniority system and a blow to Nancy Pelosi's clout, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey beat Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California in a hard-fought race for ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.  

Eshoo had Pelosi's support and won the backing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee  Tuesday afternoon, but the full caucus early Wednesday morning voted to give the plum assignment to Pallone.  

Messy Fight for Veterans' Affairs Ranking Member Slot (Updated)

Brown, left, and Walz, center, each are vying for the ranking member position on the Veterans' Affairs Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:28 a.m.  | Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota thought there would be a vote after Thanksgiving on the Veterans' Affairs Committee ranking member race. As it turns out, his face-off against Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida will happen on Wednesday.  

It gives Walz less time than he and his allies said they anticipated to build support around his uphill challenge of Brown, who benefits from seniority and the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a member.  

Luján Pledges to Bring Farmer's Work Ethic to DCCC

Luján, right, will bring a quiet intensity to his job as Israel's replacement at the DCCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has ruffled plenty of feathers lately, reclaimed some goodwill with her caucus Monday, bypassing more established members to name Ben Ray Luján the next chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  

It won't erase all of the negativity percolating among her flock — demoralized after Election Day and antsy over the stasis at the leadership table — but the decision to elevate the New Mexico Democrat is being called "smart" and "savvy," even by those who count themselves among Pelosi's critics.