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Republicans Say Franking Dispute Bumped Up to Leadership

Updated: 8:50 p.m.A dispute over the right of House Republicans to use the chamber’s official franking service to send a mailer critical of Democratic health care plans has escalated beyond the Franking Commission to “high levels on the Democratic side,” Franking Commission member Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said at a Thursday press conference.Republicans have been livid since they learned Wednesday that more than 20 requests to use a GOP-designed chart to illustrate the Democratic health care plan were being delayed because of questions about its accuracy.Asked whether he believed the matter had been referred to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office, Lungren, the ranking member of the House Administration Committee, said, “All I’ve been told is that it’s above the Franking Commission and that it appears to be above our committee, so I don’t know where you go after that.—But a spokesman for Pelosi said her office was not aware of the issue. —The first we’ve heard of this issue is from the press,— Drew Hammill said. “This matter is very clearly an issue for the Franking Commission.—Republicans vowed to continue to protest.“This is a free speech issue,— said Conference Secretary John Carter (Texas), who joined Lungren, Pence and a half-dozen other Republicans at the press conference.“What they have said is that they disagree with some parts of this and therefore Republicans are not able to use this in any franked mail, nor are Republicans allowed to blow this up at home and pay the expense in their district offices to use it in any of their public town hall meetings,— Lungren said.Lungren said Republicans rejected several Democratic compromises to the chart Wednesday night. These included the addition of a prominent disclaimer that said “this might be inaccurate— or the creation of a bipartisan chart by the Joint Economic Committee.Republicans rejected both ideas. “I think I would be willing to do that if it also appeared on the rostrum of the Speaker when she gave her press conferences,— Lungren said.