The newly exclusive Blue Dog Coalition added five members Tuesday, maxing out membership limits the Democratic group established earlier this year.
The fiscally conservative coalition voted to add Reps. Christopher Carney (Pa.), Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), Bart Gordon (Tenn.), Nick Lampson (Texas) and Zack Space (Ohio), selecting the lawmakers from an initial pool of 14 candidates.
“The good news is there’s a lot more than [those five] that wanted to be Blue Dogs,” said Rep. Mike Ross (Ark.), the coalition’s communications chairman. Candidates for the organization completed a months-long interview process before being admitted.
While Reps. Nancy Boyda (Kan.), Henry Cuellar (Texas) and Harry Mitchell (Ariz.) also applied, Blue Dog leaders said those Members were not selected but are “pending” for future openings. A Blue Dog spokeswoman could not identify the other lawmakers who had sought admission to the group.
In a series of votes, the Blue Dogs pared down the candidate list Tuesday but did not complete voting until Wednesday because the coalition requires at least three-quarters of its membership, 32 lawmakers, to approve new members.
Blue Dog leaders praised the candidates en masse but said they did not consider amending internal rules to accept all eight lawmakers.
Under bylaws adopted earlier this year, the Blue Dogs restrict the number of members it will accept to 20 percent of the size of the full Democratic Caucus in each Congress.
The group counted 42 lawmakers before its Tuesday meeting, with membership capped at 47 members for the 110th Congress.
The Blue Dogs have grown in recent years, in large part because of the addition of “Blue Pups,” freshman lawmakers endorsed by the group during their campaigns and admitted to the coalition following their elections.
While most factions within the Caucus restrict eligibility for membership, primarily through ideological requirements or ethnicity, no other high-profile group has instituted similar numerical limitations. The coalition already has expanded significantly this year, growing from 34 members in the previous Congress.