House Leaders Set to Mix Business, Politics

Posted November 26, 2003 at 2:25pm

With the first session of the 108th Congress all but over, Democratic leaders in the House will hit the trail to raise money and try to boost their candidates, while GOP leaders will largely tend to business at home.

Leaders will sandwich their political and district work around the planned one-day House session scheduled for Monday, Dec. 8. Members will return to Washington on that day to consider the $330 billion omnibus spending package, the last remaining item on the agenda.

After competing the omnibus, the House will adjourn for the year with plans to reconvene Jan. 20.

House leaders typically hit the road hard at the end of the year with the hope of helping their party’s campaign committees make a strong showing.

While other leaders’ schedules are filling up with events, December is shaping up to be a fairly light month for Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who does not have plans to headline fundraisers or stump for vulnerable Members.

He will take it easy the next few weeks, according to spokesman Pete Jeffries, opting to remain in his district and “recharge his batteries.”

Hastert will return to Washington on Dec. 8 to tend to House business, and later that evening he will attend the White House Congressional ball, Jeffries said. The festivities continue Dec. 11, when Hastert will oversee the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree.

On the Democratic side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) plans to immediately hit the road to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Pelosi, the House Democrats’ chief fundraiser, has collected $12 million for the DCCC so far this year.

“The leader will be working for the DCCC and in her district throughout the rest of the year,” said Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.

House Republicans have raised $58 million so far this year, compared with the $21 million collected by House Democrats. At the end of the previous quarter the NRCC had $8.7 million on hand, while the DCCC had nearly $6.5 million.

Pelosi begins her fundraising tour next week with events in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Seattle. She will return to Washington to complete House consideration of the omnibus spending package and to hold a Democratic strategy session on homeland security issues.

The Minority Leader will round out December with fundraising trips to New Jersey, New York and Minneapolis on Dec. 10. Later that week, Pelosi heads to New Orleans for a DCCC fundraiser and then return home to spend the rest of December for district work and the holidays.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) declined to provide information about his December plans, but Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) will spend much of December focusing less on politicking and more on trade, according to his spokeswoman.

Blunt will lead a Congressional delegation to South America Dec. 9-14. Details were sparse; the spokeswoman, Jessica Boulanger, said she could not even disclose which countries Members would travel to because the Capitol Police, out of security concerns, requested that information not be released. The focus of the trip is trade relations between the two Americas.

December will not be without some campaigning for Blunt, Boulanger assured. Blunt will headline one or two fundraisers for his leadership political action committee, the ROYB (Rely On Your Beliefs) Fund. The details, such as which Members would benefit or where the fundraisers would be held, have yet to be determined, she said. The rest of the time he will be back in his district spending time with his family.

While details were also few for Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 House Democrat will spend a good part of December working on behalf of House Democratic candidates and raising money for his leadership political action committee, AMERIPAC.

Hoyer, who is still scheduling events, will also help lead a CODEL to India, and will raise money for the DCCC at the committee’s annual ski trip in December in Colorado.