CNN is reporting that the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of 42 representatives in the House, has announced it will withhold its approval of the House leadership team.
Well, not all of the leadership team. They support James Clyburn of South Carolina for his newly created number-three position with gusto. “We fully support our current Whip, Mr. Clyburn, for the number three position and we are currently reserving judgment on the entire package until we see what the actual portfolio entails, in terms of responsibilities,” said CBC chairwoman Barbara Lee of California.
If Health Shuler’s pulse was quickening, he can settle down. The North Carolina Democrat told Fox News last night that he will “follow through with his vow” to challenge Nancy Pelosi for the position of House Minority Leader. Shuler represents a dwindling band of “moderate” Democrats that is not well represented within the Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC is not likely to throw its weight behind Shuler’s insurgent bid, unless Pelosi does something that really enrages them. They didn’t say they absolutely won’t support Pelosi, after all. They just said they were withholding approval. Shuler could call their bluff and make some hay out of Pelosi’s deal with Clyburn … but let’s not kid ourselves. Shuler doesn’t look suicidal to me.
It’s clear that Pelosi can win the CBC’s approval by treating James Clyburn well. If his “actual portfolio” is packed with sufficient power and perks, they’ll come on board. Shuler is unlikely to outbid Pelosi in making Assistant House Leader the coolest job ever.
CNN quotes Representative Yvette Clark of New York as saying, “We want to make sure that there is a substantive weight given to that position. Right now, it is just the beginning of the discussion.” A more complex chain of command might not be the best move for a party with disastrous leadership, and it remains to be seen how much this “substantive weight” will cost the taxpayers. The actual cost of staff and perks for leadership positions is a drop in the bucket of our vast deficit, but it’s bound to get under the skin of an electorate sick of Congress’ free-spending ways.
The Congressional Black Caucus is negotiating, not launching a rebellion. They’re just waiting to see how sweet Clyburn’s deal will be. Voters can spend the time wondering why so much effort is being expended to create a leadership position the Party, and the republic, have gotten along without until now.