Friday, May 26, 2006

The Congressional Black Caucus' Threat Against Nancy Pelosi

The Hill reports:
Furious black lawmakers, rallying behind Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), were pulled back from the brink of open revolt against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in an emergency meeting with her Wednesday evening.

The meeting with a handful of CBC members was called after Pelosi wrote the embattled lawmaker, who is at the center of a massive bribery scandal, a curt note requesting his immediate resignation from the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Outraged that one of its members was being picked on even though he has not been charged with a crime, the Congressional Black Caucus had intended to issue a defiant statement against their leader but agreed after the meeting to pause, at least briefly, for reflection.

Earlier this week, Pelosi approached Jefferson and told him that she thought he should resign, according to a Democratic aide. Later, at the Democratic caucus meeting yesterday morning, she took him into a side room and told him that she had prepared a letter calling on him to resign the committee seat and that she would allow him one hour to withdraw gracefully before she sent it, according to the aide. In both instances, Jefferson remained defiant.

Pelosi’s one-sentence missive to Jefferson called on him to vacate his committee seat “in the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus.”

Jefferson promptly refused, calling her request “discriminatory” and “unprecedented,” and suggested that she was employing a double standard by failing to ask other lawmakers facing ethics questions to relinquish their committee assignments. Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) has come under fire for earmarks he secured through his seat on the Appropriations Committee.

“I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain political strategy,” Jefferson said.

The Jefferson scandal, which after more than a year of investigation blew open Saturday with an FBI raid at his congressional office, has brought into glaring public light long-standing resentments felt by black lawmakers toward the Democratic leadership in the House.

The CBC’s chairman, Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), engaged in a heated argument with Pelosi on the House floor Tuesday afternoon after Watt heard reports that Pelosi was considering calling for Jefferson’s ouster, according to one witness.

Members of the CBC are expected to confront Pelosi today in a meeting that was previously scheduled to address separate concerns about Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). That meeting is now likely to focus more on Jefferson, a Democratic aide said.
All is not well in the Democratic Party coalition.The San Diego Union-Tribune reports on the CBC's dislike of Rahmn Emanuel:
Politics was the subject of a separate meeting Thursday as Black Caucus members met with Pelosi about Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill. Some lawmakers complain that he has a heavy-handed style and has pressured them to do more fundraising for the party.
2006 might not have a good outcome if the CBC feels unappreciated by white liberals who run the Democratic Party.