Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rep. Steny Hoyer May Face Leadership Challenge from Jim Clyburn // PLUS: MD Dems Divide on Ending Afghanistan War


POTENTIAL PELOSI RETIREMENT BREEDS ACTION FROM AMBITIOUS DEMS: Last February, Maryland Juice was very disappointed to see that Rep. Steny Hoyer (a Marylander and the #2 Democrat in the U.S. House) was endorsing centrist/corporate Democrats over progressives in out-of-state Congressional primaries. We speculated that he was trying to build a coalition of centrist Democrats to vie for a leadership post in the U.S. House.

The evidence of leadership jockeying among ambitious Democrats grows every day. Below, we print news that Rep. Jim Clyburn, a long-serving African American Congressman from South Carolina is publicly talking about challenging Mr. Hoyer for a leadership post. Mr. Clyburn is the #3 Democrat in the U.S. House and previously tried to challenge Mr. Hoyer for the #2 spot.

The trigger for the leadership shuffle is growing speculation that U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will retire from her post after this legislative session. Additionally, observant politicos will note the issue divisions that are beginning to underlie many of these leadership dynamics.

Maryland Juice is warning folks today, that the outcome of the Democratic leadership fight may have huge ramifications on policy going forward. Speak now or forever hold your peace. See a few items below:

JUICE #1: REP. STENY HOYER TO FACE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE? - Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is publicly discussing challenging Maryland's Rep. Steny Hoyer in a future leadership battle. The Hill recently reported on the story (excerpt below):
THE HILL: Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) is considering a bid to be Speaker of the House or majority leader if the Democrats win the November election.

He would almost certainly not run against Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) if she decided to stay, but he hints strongly that he is ready for a showdown with Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.).

Asked whether he will seek a higher leadership post following the 2012 election, Clyburn told The Hill, “I might — sure. I’m not closing the door on anything.”

The highest-ranking African-American in Congress then detailed what could be his argument for a promotion: He has paid his dues, both literally and figuratively....

Hoyer, for his part, is not ceding any ground.

“Mr. Hoyer is focused on taking back the House and being the majority leader,” spokeswoman Katie Grant said Wednesday in an email.

Clyburn is not expected to challenge Pelosi, who has a firm grip on her caucus.

Yet there is widespread speculation that this Congress will be Pelosi’s last....

JUICE #2: CONGRESSMAN CLYBURN & HOYER SUDDENLY EVOLVE ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY - In the lead-up to the House Democratic leadership contest, Clyburn, Hoyer and several other Democrats are beginning to re-calibrate their positions on issues of importance to the Democratic base. Last Thursday, President Barack Obama endorsed marriage equality. The next day, Maryland Juice reported that Rep. Steny Hoyer's position changed to match President Obama's support for LGBT civil rights. The following Monday, Rep. Clyburn's position "evolved" to also support marriage equality. That leaves Maryland Senate President Mike Miller as one of the only Democratic leaders in Maryland (and now nationally) who are still opposed to marriage equality. In any case, see The Washington Post's coverage of the Democratic leadership "evolution" on marriage (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that he believes same-sex marriage should be legal — and the No. 3 House Democrat appeared to go further than President Obama in suggesting that a national policy, rather than a state-by-state one, is needed on the issue.

“I, like the president, have evolved to a point of marriage equality,” Clyburn said in an interview on MSNBC. “I have not always been there. I grew up in a parsonage, a fundamentalist Christian parsonage, and I grew up with that indoctrination. And I have grown to the point that I believe that we have evolved to marriage equality....”

The move makes Clyburn the latest member of Democratic leadership to come out in support of same-sex marriage in the wake of Obama’s announcement last week. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been a longtime backer of gay marriage, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) last week announced for the first time that he, too, supports allowing same-sex couples to wed....

JUICE #3: DEMOCRATIC LEADERS DIVIDE OVER WAR IN AFGHANISTAN - Even though Democrats are now moving in lock-step to endorse marriage equality, many officials remain shockingly corrupt or naive about defense spending, foreign adventures and saber-rattling. The progressive bloggers at Down With Tyranny often highlight funky votes from Democrats, and today they too are noticing the new leadership dynamics emerging in the Party:
DOWN WITH TYRANNY: For those who keep track of this sort of detail, Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced an amendment yesterday to end the occupation of Afghanistan.... 
It failed 113-303. Most Democrats-- 101 of them-- voted YES, to end the pointless occupation. They were joined by 12 Republicans. But 79 Democrats crossed the aisle to voted with Boehner and Cantor. Any interest in knowing which side your congresscritter was on? All the names are listed on the link above. A few highlights though: generally speaking Blue Dogs were pro-war and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus were anti-war. And the Democratic House leaders... mostly pro-war. Let's look at some names worth remembering-- first candidates for higher office:

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are running for Senate and they voted to end the occupation. New Dems Shelley Berkley (NV) and Martin Heinrich (NM) and Blue Dog Joe Donnelly (IN) voted for more war.

Karen Bass (D-CA), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Bruce Braley (D-IA), Donna Edwards (D-MD), John Larson (D-CT) and Jared Polis (D-CO) are either being groomed for Democratic leadership or are already junior leaders and they all voted to end the occupation. The top House leaders though, Clyburn, Hoyer, Israel, and even Pelosi, all voted for more war, as did wannabes Ron Kind (WI), Allyson Schwartz (PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) "wisely" avoided voting at all.

JUICE #4: ROLL CALL // MD U.S. HOUSE MEMBERS VOTE ON WAR IN AFGHANISTAN - Below Maryland Juice lists the votes of Maryland's U.S. House members on whether or not to end the War in Afghanistan. The vote took place last Thursday, and notably, only two of Maryland's Democrats voted to end the war. What's up with that?
  1. Elijah Cummings (Democrat)
  2. Donna Edwards (Democrat)
  1. Roscoe Bartlett (Republican)
  2. Andy Harris (Republican)
  3. Steny Hoyer (Democrat)
  4. Dutch Ruppersberger (Democrat)
  5. John Sarbanes (Democrat)
  6. Chris Van Hollen (Democrat)
ANALYSIS: Maryland Juice has to imagine that these types of votes and issues may re-emerge in Maryland's future Democratic Primaries (ie: for U.S. Senate). The Free State has one of the most liberal electorates in the nation, and not a single Democratic House incumbent from Maryland is in danger of losing their primary or general election. So why the war-mongering? It is electorally unnecessary, and a potential liability in the future. The Internet (and oppo researchers) have a long memory. You've been warned!

JUICE #5: REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER & ANDY HARRIS VOTE FOR INDEFINITE DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL (IE: NDAA) - Maryland Juice has been persistently dismayed that Democrats around the nation who claimed to believe in civil liberties during the Bush-era have continued the Republican assault on civil liberties, due process and privacy. Last December, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (who voted to continue the war in Afghanistan - *cough*) explained one of the more troubling problems, involving the idea that the Government can detain people within the United States, and hold them indefinitely without trail:
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: It is with great regret that I rise to oppose this Defense Authorization Conference Report.  This is the first Defense Authorization Conference Report I have opposed since I was first elected in 2002. 

...certain provisions leave open the possibility that innocent U.S. citizens could be wrongfully and indefinitely detained at the direction of the president without appropriate access to civilian courts....    

If Congress is going to spell out the rules of arrest and detention, it should have made clear that American citizens may not be indefinitely detained without due process of law.  

How U.S. citizens are to be treated when detained as terror suspects and the question of jurisdictional leadership during terror-related arrests are matters of such supreme national consequence that they should not have been expeditiously appended to a National Defense Authorization Conference Report.

TEA PARTY REP. ANDY HARRIS BACKSTABS VOTERS ON NDAA, DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER JOINS:  Last February, Maryland Juice applauded the return of civil liberties when Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Tea Party Rep. Andy Harris introduced legislation to eliminate the horrifying prospect of indefinite detention without due process in the United States. Last week the U.S. House voted once again to try and eliminate the power of indefinite detention in America -- but amazingly, Rep. Andy Harris voted against the amendment, and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger was one of only nineteen Democrats to join him! Not even, Roscoe Bartlett supported indefinite detention. See our summary of the fairly close Roll Call Vote (182-238):
  1. Roscoe Bartlett (Republican)
  2. Elijah Cummings (Democrat)
  3. Donna Edwards (Democrat)
  4. Steny Hoyer (Democrat)
  5. John Sarbanes (Democrat)
  6. Chris Van Hollen (Democrat)
  1. Andy Harris (Republican)
  2. Dutch Ruppersberger (Democrat)
The unfortunate aspect to Mr. Harris' refusal to support the elimination of the indefinite detention problem in the United States is that the effort was broadly supported by Tea Party members. In fact, this is one of the few issues where the Tea Party and Democrats could work together. The New York Times reported:
NEW YORK TIMES: The Defense Authorization Act is required each year to set Pentagon policy and spending levels, but House Republicans have turned it into a showcase for their opposition to Obama administration policies. This year, Democratic leaders had some surprise support. Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a Tea Party-backed freshman Republican, teamed up with Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington, to declare that terrorism suspects apprehended on United States soil should no longer be detained indefinitely without charge or trial.

But the left-right coalition fizzled in the face of charges that the two lawmakers were coddling terrorists. On the 238-to-182 vote against the amendment, as many Democrats — 19 — voted against it as Republicans voted for it.

“We’ve got a ways to go still, but there are a lot of Republicans who are listening now,” Mr. Amash said. “I’m confident that most of them are going to go back to their districts, and they are going to get hammered on this issue.”

JUICE #6: THE RETURN OF THE MOCO ANTI-WAR RESOLUTION - With the ridiculous voting behavior coming from Maryland's members of Congress, including those representing Montgomery County, it is no wonder that the anti-war group Montgomery County Peace Action continues to ramp up its activities. Maryland Juice attended their annual luncheon this weekend, and noted that Peace Action appears ready to make another push to persuade the MoCo County Council to pass a resolution asking our Congressional delegation to steer dollars toward services instead of military spending. The effort previously stalled after lobbying from MoCo-based Lockheed Martin. See some documents I picked up at the Peace Action event below:


Montgomery County Council Map (Peace Action Montgomery)

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