House and Senate Matters Remaining
The elections are over but here are several questions concerning issues like rules and leadership of the next Congress that have yet to be resolved.
In the House, there is a fight going on between Steny Hoyer (MD) and James Clyburn (SC) for the number two post in the Democratic caucus. In the majority, Hoyer served as Majority Leader (the number two) and Clyburn was the Majority Whip (the number three). However, you lose one leadership position when you lose the majority. Nancy Pelosi, despite calls from some moderate Democrats (remaining), looks likely to remain the Democratic leader serving as Minority Leader, leaving Hoyer and Clyburn to fight it out in the game of musical chairs.
According to reports, Bennie Thompson has joined much of the Black Caucus in supporting Clyburn (who is also a CBC member). Hotline on calls shows 51 public commits for Hoyer, 13 for Clyburn.
And here is the list of Democrats who have said they will oppose Pelosi as their House Leader. There are 17 Democrats so far. Thompson isn’t on there and we have no reason to believe he would not be supporting her.
On the Republican side it looked like there may be the first Tea Party vs. establishment showdown for the GOP Conference Chair post. However, Michele Bachmann (MN) ended her bid to challenge Jeb Hensarling (TX) yesterday and endorsed the Texas Republican. By virtue of having the support from incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) and others in the GOP leadership, Hensarling was given the title of “establishment” by some (mainly detractors I suppose). That would be news to most people; Hensarling is one of the most conservative members of the House, he just doesn’t make as many appearances on TV or at rallies as Bachmann does.
But still, the threat was there and the media would have enjoyed the angle of the story. As for Alan Nunnelee and Steven Palazzo, they are able to avoid a potential fight that may have angered some before they were even sworn in.
But a GOP fight that is certainly there and will be drawn out is a proposed earmark moratorium in the Senate. This is simply a conference decision; Republicans only. Led by Jim DeMint (SC), he wants the GOP to swear off earmarks. In a conference of 47 Republicans, it will take 24 members supporting this for passage. As opposed to binding legislation, this is technically not enforceable. Therefore, the GOP could vote to do away with earmarks yet members could still ask for them setting up a potentially ugly situation. Further, as I said, this is Republicans only so Democrats could (and will) still receive earmarks.
Thad Cochran is opposed to DeMint’s proposal. I have not seen an official position from Roger Wicker, but you would have to imagine he is also against this.