Larson Gets Top Slot at House Admin

Posted January 29, 2003 at 6:46pm

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the Democratic appointments to the House Administration Committee on Wednesday. Rep. John Larson (Conn.) will serve as ranking member and Reps. Robert Brady (Pa.) and Juanita Millender-McDonald (Calif.) will round out the panel.

Larson said he had asked Pelosi to be appointed to the committee and was “honored and humbled” to be asked to serve as ranking member. The three-term former history teacher was actively involved in institutional issues when he served in the state Senate and expressed excitement about the new challenge.

Larson said he will keep up the well-documented bipartisan nature of the panel. Asked if he had already spoken with Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), Larson responded: “He was one of the first calls.”

“[Ney] looks forward to working with him, as well as the other members of the committee, and is committed to moving forward in a bipartisan manner with the business of the House,” Ney spokesman Brian Walsh said.

Serving on the committee is generally considered a thankless job, and the leadership of both parties sometimes has to recruit Members to accept the oversight and administrative responsibilities handled by the panel.

“The Congresswoman is delighted. She thinks she can bring good service to the position,” said Millender-McDonald Chief of Staff Shirley Cooks.

Brady could be reached for comment by press time.

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), who has served on the committee for five years, was told by Pelosi on Tuesday that he did not get the ranking member post.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who had been ranking member, left the committee after he became Minority Whip. Fattah was the second most senior Democrat after Hoyer.

“I did get a chance to speak to the leader, and her viewpoint about these things, given my work on Appropriations, was there was a need to provide the House Admin responsibilities to someone else,” Fattah said Tuesday.

He was referring to his seat on the spending panel — which is considered an “A” committee. Pelosi has asserted that she wants to spread plum posts to as many in the Caucus as possible, thus precluding Members from having a seat on a top committee concurrently with serving as ranking member of another.

But beyond that, both Democrats and Republicans familiar with the process expressed surprise that Fattah — who had actively sought the post and took an interest in administrative issues — would be passed over in favor of a Member who had shown no outward interest in the committee.

“Larson had not previously expressed an interest to the leadership in serving on the committee,” a senior Democratic aide said.

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) was the only Member who had made a request to be appointed to the panel, but he was not given a slot. He currently serves on Financial Services and Education and the Workforce, so a seat on House Administration would have forced him off one of those panels based upon Pelosi’s approach to committee slots.

Instead Pelosi appointed Hinojosa to be ranking member of the Education and the Workforce subcommittee on select education.

The Congressional Black Caucus was watching the Steering process closely, especially after Pelosi passed over Rep. William Jefferson (La.), a CBC member, for the chairmanship of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this month.

CBC Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) expressed satisfaction with the Minority Leader’s picks for House Administration.

“I had a good meeting today with Nancy Pelosi, and she explained to me that she had a general rule that she could not have a situation where Mr. Fattah would be allowed to hold that position as well as be on one of the exclusive committees,” he said. “As far as Millender-McDonald, we feel she’ll do a great job and … make sure there’s equity and fairness.”

Erin P. Billings contributed to this report.