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May 11, 2007

Democratic process?

Here's a few more things I thought I'd point out. Molly Hennessy-Fiske at The Los Angeles Times reports that

Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio, one of 71 freshman Democrats to sign a letter earlier this year urging Rangel not to compromise 'fair trade' principles, was 'frustrated' that she and other new legislators were not consulted about the compromise, her staff said. Six House Democrats, including Linda T. Sanchez of Lakewood, sent a letter late Thursday to the chairman of the party caucus, Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, asking him and other caucus leaders not to endorse the new policy until they reviewed the fine print.

And Jim Abrams at The Associated Press reports that

A half-dozen House Democrats with strong labor ties, watching the news conference from the back of the room, later expressed strong dissatisfaction with the process. "The strongest voices for workers and the environment were not included" in the negotiations and were not informed of the deal, said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. "I'm very disappointed that Speaker Pelosi held a press conference before meeting with the caucus," said Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine. "In a democratic process Democrats ought to know."

Finally, Inside U.S. Trade reports that Rangel plans to pass the deals with a minority of the Democratic majority and a majority of the GOP minority:

Rangel said the agreement as now outlined would garner sufficient Democratic votes to pass the Peru and Panama agreement, though not a majority of the caucus. Asked if Pelosi’s backing of the deal would make the votes on these agreements a leadership vote that would be formally whipped, he said that would not be necessary because there would be sufficient votes for passage. He said an issue only rises to a leadership vote if the vote is a tight one.

Note that on the LA Times piece: instead of "71 freshmen Democrats," this should read "71 freshmen and senior Democrats," in reference to an April letter. A January letter by just freshmen garnered 39 member signatures — over 95 percent of the class.

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