Departing Democrats Complain About Caucus Vote

Posted December 9, 2010 at 5:20pm

Updated: 8:27 p.m.

The House Democratic leadership is pushing back against complaints from several departing Members that a Caucus vote rejecting President Barack Obama’s tax cut deal occurred without their input.

Several defeated Members told Roll Call that the meeting was an organizational one for the next Congress, with only returning Members invited. But that’s not accurate, a Democratic leadership aide said.

The vote on the tax cut package, which was brought on by rank-and-file Members and not leadership, occurred during a regularly scheduled 111th Congress Caucus meeting, immediately before the organizational meeting for the 112th Congress, the aide said. The meeting was open to all Members, and many retiring Members attended, the aide added.

“All were welcome, all will continue to be welcome,” the aide said, adding that all Democrats received notice of the meeting.

But Rep. John Adler, who lost his New Jersey seat in the midterm elections, was upset over the vote, saying earlier in the day that he believed that departing Members were excluded. “The Democratic Caucus made a very significant policy decision without including the departing Members of the 111th Congress,” he said. “I support the president’s negotiated plan as a way to continue the economic recovery.”

Rep. Bobby Bright (Ala.) also complained. “Even though we are in our lame-duck phase, we are still Representatives,” he said. “We should have been invited.”

Bright, who also lost in the midterms, disagreed with the resolution to not bring the bill to a vote on the floor. “Bring it up, and let’s have an up-or-down vote. That’s the American way,” he said.

“It appears that it’s an issue for the 111th, not the 112th,” retiring Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) said.

But Rep. Earl Pomeroy, another defeated Member, said he wasn’t perturbed at not being included, noting that the resolution is nonbinding.

“It’s the leaders’ call,” the North Dakota Democrat said. “Caucuses elect leaders, leaders make these calls.”

He plans to vote against the deal unless it’s changed. “They cut a bad deal here,” he said of the White House. “They cut a deal we won’t go along with.”

Only one Member present for the meeting, Rep. Shelley Berkley (Nev.), spoke against the resolution to oppose the tax cut deal.