Friday, December 01, 2006

This and That

A couple interesting pieces in the Washington Post this morning got me thinking about the challenges Congress is facing as the Democrats take over.

First of all, there was a somewhat poignant piece about Congressmen moving out of their office. In "Out go the Congressmen" Lyndsey Layton follows the difficult process of Curt Weldon and his staff moving out of their Capitol Hill office by today -- even though Congress is still in session. In addition to boxing everything up, responding to inquiries, voting and all the regular work of Congress, all of the staff will be looking for new jobs. All the outgoing offices will be provided one desk and one phone (for usually about 10 staff) in the basement of the Rayburn office building. It will be like a lame duck sweat shop down there. Not a very merry Holiday gift. It's just a reminder that there's a very human side to the reorganization of Congress that we all should keep in mind.

Second, E.J. Dionne had an insightful piece about the true "Democratic Power Struggle." He notes that the "Old Bulls" coming in to chair the Committees have been around since before Clinton, before Gingrich and the 1994 takeover and before all the "Young Turks" who might expect Congress to be run more openly and, well, democratically. The incoming chairs are used to almost complete authority over the legislative process within their jurisdiction. They likely won't take kindly to interference from "outsiders" -- even within their own party. Pelosi will have an interesting time negotiating between these two groups to maintain unity and give the Dems a shot at maintaining their majority in 2008 and perhaps even winning the presidency.