"I don't consider myself a moderate."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) (Time, 9/4/06)
...And she's not the only one.
"This list of the bills most likely to be championed by committee chairmen in a Pelosi-led House of Representatives would be great fodder for the latenight talk show hosts if it weren't true," House Majority Whip Roy Blunt said. "Instead, it's just plain scary. While Republicans fight the War on Terror, grow our robust economy, and crack down on illegal immigration, House Democrats plot to establish a Department of Peace, raise your taxes, and minimize penalties for crack dealers. The difference couldn't be starker."
Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act -- H.R. 3760: Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
and 74 Democratic cosponsors propose a new "Department of Peace and Nonviolence" as well as "National Peace Day." Cosponsors include three would-be Democratic Chairmen: John Conyers (Judiciary), George Miller (Education and the Workforce), and Charlie Rangel (Ways and Means).
Gas Stamps -- H.R. 3712: Jim McDermott (D-WA)
and eight Democratic cosponsors want a "Gas Stamps" program similar to the Food Stamps program to subsidize the gasoline purchases of qualified individuals.
Less Jail Time for Selling Crack Cocaine - H.R. 2456: Charlie Rangel (D-NY)
and 23 Democratic cosponsors want to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for possessing, importing, and distributing crack cocaine. John Conyers, the would-be Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, is a cosponsor.
Voting Rights for Criminals - H.R. 1300: John Conyers (D-MI) and 32 Democratic cosponsors, and H.R. 663: Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and 28 Democratic cosponsors would let convicted felons vote. Rep. John Conyers is the would-be Democratic Chairman of the Judiciary Committee which would consider this legislation.
Expand Medicare to Include Diapers -- H.R. 1052: Barney Frank (D-MA) supports Medicare coverage of adult diapers. Barney Frank is the would-be Chairman of the Financial Services Committee.
Nationalized Health Care - H.R. 4683: John Dingell (D-MI)
and 18 Democratic cosponsors want to expand Medicare to cover all Americans. John Dingell is the would-be Democratic Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee who along with cosponsors Charlie Rangel, would-be Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Henry Waxman, would-be Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, would have jurisdiction over the proposal.
Federal Regulation of Restaurant Menus -- H.R. 5563: Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
and 25 Democratic cosponsors authorize federal regulation of the contents of restaurant menus.
Taxpayer Funded Abortions & Elimination of all Restrictions on Abortion, Including Parental Notice - H.R. 5151: Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 66 Democratic cosponsors want to overturn even minimal restrictions on abortion such as parental notice requirements. The bill would also require taxpayer funding of abortions through the various federal health care programs. John Conyers, the would-be Chairman of Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over the bill, is an original cosponsor.
Bill of Welfare Rights -- H.J. Res. 29-35: Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
proposes a Soviet-style "Bill of Welfare Rights," enshrining the rights of full employment, public education, national healthcare, public housing, abortion, progressive taxation, and union membership. On some these measures, Rep. Jackson is joined by up to 35 Democratic cosponsors, including would-be Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.
A note about this list: While by no means an exhaustive list of the liberal, out-of-the-mainstream bills introduced by Democratic Members, these bills deserve particular attention because the principle advocates are the very individuals who would be in a position to schedule committee markups and move the legislation through the Congress should the Democrats take control.
For more details on the would-be chairmen….
Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.)
Elected 1969, 18th term Rep. Obey voted with the AFL-CIO 100% of the time. Obey voted against the Deficit Reduction Act, against Defense Funding (FY06), against the Legislative Line Item Veto, and against funding the Global War on Terror (FY04).
“Mr. Obey was one of those Democrats who ripped Mr. Clinton for endorsing a balanced budget in 1995. Rather than cut spending, his goal would be to spend less on defense and more on domestic programs and entitlements.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Elected 1970, 18th term Rep. Rangel voted with the ACLU 94% of the time. Rangel consistently voted against free trade agreements, against the Bush tax cuts, against Pension Reform, and against Welfare Reform.
Rep. Rangel “opposed the Bush tax cuts and recently voted against free trade with tiny Oman. His committee's crucial health care subcommittee would be run by California's Pete Stark (1972), who in 1993 criticized Hillary Clinton's health care proposal because the government wasn't dominant enough.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
“No question about it.” -Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), when asked whether tax increases across the spectrum would be considered should Democrats take control of Congress. (CongressDaily, 09/26/06)
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.)
Elected 1964, 21st term Rep. Conyers voted with the AFL-CIO 100% and the ACLU 100% of the time. Conyers consistently voted against any liability reform, against the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization, against REAL ID, against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification bill, and against Border Protection and Immigration Reform.
“He recently made his plans clear in a 370-page report… the report accuses the Administration of violating no fewer than 26 laws and regulations, and is a road map of Mr. Conyers's explicit intention to investigate grounds for impeaching President Bush.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.)
Elected 1955, 25th term Rep. Dingell voted with the AFL-CIO 100% of the time. Dingell voted against exploring for American-made energy in ANWR and OCS, against reforming the Endangered Species Act, and against the Telecom Reauthorization bill.
“The Michigan Congressman would do his best to provide taxpayer help to GM and Ford. But telecom companies would probably get more regulation in the form of Net neutrality rules, and a windfall profits tax on oil would be a real possibility.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.)
Elected 1974, 16th term Rep. Miller voted with the ACLU 95% of the time. Miller voted against Higher Education Reauthorization, against Head Start Reauthorization, and against Pension Reform.
Rep. Miller is “the chief sponsor of the ‘Employee Free Choice Act,’ which would make it much easier for unions to organize by largely banning secret elections… The Californian also wants to raise the minimum wage and fulfill the National Education Association wish to spend more federal dollars on local school construction.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
Elected 1980, 13th term Rep. Frank voted with the AFL-CIO 100% and the ACLU 95% of the time. Frank voted against the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act, against Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement, and against Credit Rating Reform.
“…the ascension of Barney Frank (1980) would mean a reprieve for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, despite $16 billion in accounting scandals. His main reform priority has been to carve out a new affordable housing fund from the two companies' profits. And forget about any major review of Sarbanes-Oxley.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
Elected 1974, 16th term Rep. Waxman voted with the AFL-CIO 100% and the ACLU 95% of the time. Waxman voted against the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act, against the formation of the Bipartisan Katrina Committee, and against 527 Reform.
Rep. Waxman “would compete with Mr. Conyers to see who could issue the most subpoenas to the Bush Administration.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
Intelligence Committee Chairman Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
Elected 1992, 7th term Rep. Hastings voted with the AFL-CIO 92% of the time. Hastings voted against declaring that the U.S. will prevail in the Global War on Terror, against the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act, against Supporting Terrorist Finance Tracking, against the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization, and against Border Protection and Immigration Reform.
Rep. Hastings “who, should Ms. Pelosi succeed in pushing aside current ranking Member Jane Harman, would take over the House Intelligence Committee. Before he won his Florida seat in 1992, Mr. Hastings had been a federal judge who was impeached and convicted by a Democratic Congress for lying to beat a bribery rap. He would handle America's most vital national secrets.” (WSJ, 08/31/06)
*Group ratings are from 2004. Key votes are from the 108th and 109th Congress. Wall Street Journal quotes are extracted from “Back to the Congressional Future” editorial, August 31, 2006