With the government set to shut down in a week, Nancy Pelosi is flexing her muscles. In a closed Democratic whip meeting Thursday morning, the House minority leader warned Democrats not to rush to support the Republican efforts to fund the government until they see what’s in the bill.
Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and the longest-serving member of Congress ever, will step down after this year and cap a career unmatched for its longevity and influence. Dingell, 87, told the Detroit Free Press that he'd reached the decision to retire at the end of his current term — his 29th full one — rather than run for re-electon because it was time, given a list of achievements that any other member of Congress would envy, and his continued frustration over partisan gridlock. Dingell replaced his father in Congress and, like him, made health care his overriding passion.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that he won't seek reelection to Congress this November. The lesson? Democrats aren't really counting on re-taking the House in 2014. Waxman is the fourth top Democrat on a House committee who has either called it quits or opted to run for another office, and a fifth -- House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) -- said this week that he's still weighing his options.
About two weeks ago, as tea partiers in the GOP-controlled House were forcing a government shutdown, some House Democrats sent a private and informal message to House Speaker John Boehner: If you need to break with the die-hard conservatives of your caucus to keep the government running and avoid a debt ceiling crisis, we might be able to try to help you protect your speakership, should far-right Republicans rebel and challenge you. This offer was conveyed to Boehner just as he was entering what has turned into the toughest stretch of his speakership, according to two senior House Democratic lawmakers who each asked not to be identified.
The day that John Dingell first stepped onto the floor of the House of Representatives, he faced a very different America. A woman named Rosa Parks had just been arrested, the name Emmett Till was in the news and a movie star named James Dean had just died in a car crash.