Snyder’s Rules Proposal Fails; Lipinski Drops His

Posted February 12, 2003 at 6:08pm

House Democrats on Wednesday opted to sideline two proposed rules changes designed to boost participation and power for junior Members.

Democrats, in their closed weekly Caucus meeting, rejected by voice vote the change offered by Rep. Vic Snyder (Ark.) to do away with a grandfather clause in the rules allowing senior members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to hold a place on another panel. The move would have forced nine members of Energy and Commerce to relinquish their second seats.

Snyder said he believes the loss could be attributed to a feeling in the Caucus that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is already trying to share committee power. And, he said, Pelosi made it clear that Snyder’s amendment helped her convince Members to relinquish seats to make room for newer Members.

But Snyder said he’ll keep working to open up opportunities for Members: “It’s an important issue that’s not going away.”

Rep. Bill Lipinski (Ill.) offered a second proposal, but he decided to withdraw it before the official vote. Lipinski’s amendment sought to redistribute Democratic committee funds to give budget authority to ranking members on subcommittees. It would have given subcommittee ranking members control over two-thirds of the funds, while the full committee ranking members would get oversight of one-third of the budget.

“I believe it’s a way of decentralizing, democratizing and giving more input to Members,” Lipinski said last week. “It’s a way of giving more empowerment to the rank and file.”

But Lipinski, who has served as the ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation, realized he didn’t have adequate support for his amendment. According to one senior Democratic aide, Lipinski said: “After 27 years as Chicago ward committeeman, I can count votes.”

— Erin P. Billings