The Corner

Re: Doings in the House

Rich’s emailer makes a good point that hasn’t gotten much notice. Speaker Pelosi has not exactly been looking organized and in charge the last few weeks. The majority losing votes on motions to recommit is extremely unusual, and while it all certainly has the feel of a Hill-nerd kind of inside baseball item, I do think there’s a bit more to it. These six motion to recommit votes have involved a clever use of House rules by the Republicans that has been pretty embarrassing for the Democrats, eroding the confidence of some of their members in the leadership’s ability to protect them from politically damaging votes on the floor. Meanwhile House Democrats have also been engaged in a bizarre public fight among themselves over the Iraq bill, in which the House majority leadership has been struggling desperately to get a bare majority on the very issue on which they’ve claimed their majority was won, and at least one of their own deputy whips has apparently been whipping against the bill. Democratic Chief Whip James Clyburn is quoted in The Hill this week saying: “Have we got the 218 votes to pass it? I don’t know.” I’m sure that’s what they want to see their whip saying to the press. Good stuff. It’s not easy to run the House, but it should be easy not to run it quite this badly.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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