House members complain that the White House routinely shows them disrespect. Until recently, some said, administration aides would wait until the last minute to inform them when a Cabinet official would be traveling to their districts to give a speech or announce a government grant. Lawmakers love these events, which let them take advantage of local press coverage.
House Democrats are far more upset that they have repeatedly voted to support Obama's agenda and then felt they were left to fend for themselves when the legislation was watered down in the Senate. First with the nearly $800 billion stimulus plan and then again with the landmark health-care bill, House members approved far-reaching, controversial early versions that reflected the White House's desires. But the bills stalled in the Senate under Republican filibuster threats and were scaled back. Now these lawmakers are left to defend their earlier votes on the campaign trail.
Some representatives from industrial states are especially angry over their efforts to enact climate change legislation. At the urging of the president and Pelosi, the House narrowly approved a controversial bill in June 2009. But more than a year later, the Senate has yet to take up the issue, leaving lawmakers feeling as if the White House pushed them to take a huge political risk -- and one they now have to explain to the voters -- for nothing.
"My experience is, we always feel neglected. The experience the Republicans had with Bush -- they felt neglected. That's the nature of the relationship between the House and the White House," House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) said before Wednesday night's White House huddle.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010
James Madison and Party Politics on the Hill
As William F. Connelly Jr. puts it in a new book of the same title, "James Madison rules America." Case in point: A Washington Post story on internal Democratic tensions illustrates how bicameralism and the separation of powers continue to shape party politics: