HackWatch: Nancy Pelosi

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Nancy Pelosi in 2004:

House Democrats’ anger at heavy-handed Republican tactics reached a new level yesterday, with the chamber’s top Democrat asking the House speaker to embrace a “Bill of Rights” for the minority, regardless which party it is.


Pelosi’s document, which she vows to honor if Democrats regain the majority, says: “Too often, incivility and the heavy hand of the majority” have silenced Democrats and choked off “thoughtful debate.” She called on the majority to let the minority offer meaningful amendments and substitutes to important bills; to limit roll-call votes to the normal 15 minutes rather than keeping them open to round up needed votes; and to let all appointees to House-Senate conference committees participate in meetings and decisions.

“When we are shut out, they are shutting out the great diversity of America,” Pelosi said in an interview. “We want a return to civility; we want to set a higher standard.”


Democrats and several analysts say recommital votes are largely meaningless. Hastert’s leadership team portrays them as “procedural votes” rather than matters of policy, and unwritten parliamentary rules make it essentially treasonous for lawmakers to vote against their party’s leadership on procedural matters.

The inevitable party-line vote that keeps Democrats from recommitting a Republican bill “is the whole ballgame,” Ornstein said, because it prevents Democrats from having a debate and a vote on the substance of their alternative proposals.

Nancy Pelosi, 2008:

The spirit of bipartisan cooperation didn’t survive the first day of the 111th Congress as House Democrats pushed through a package of rule changes Tuesday that the furious Republican minority said trampled their traditional rights to affect legislation.


The most contentious rule change places new restrictions on motions to “recommit” a bill for new amendments to the committee that approved it. In practice, that motion often meant a lengthy or even permanent delay in passing the measure. Motions to recommit would still be possible, but the new rules allow the full House to reconsider the bill almost instantaneously.


Because of the special rules regarding budgetary legislation, Republicans argued that the new restrictions on motions to recommit will hobble their ability to challenge tax increases that are included in larger, “must-pass” bills.

Unlike in the Senate, where the threat of a filibuster gives the minority strong bargaining leverage, the minority party in the House has relatively few tools to challenge the majority’s will. Mr. Dreier noted that the recommit motion had been in place for 100 years, and he rejected Democratic claims that the new rules were a minor tweak to an obscure parliamentary proceeding.

In Congress, he said, “process is substance.”

It’s a somewhat complicated procedural issue, but the bottom line here is that while Pelosi demanded minority rights and decried GOP procedural chicanery while her party was in the minority, she’s starting the new Congress by pushing through rules changes that would make it much more difficult for Republicans to have any influence on pending legislation.

Pelosi gets a 7 out of 10 on the somewhat arbitrary Hackery Index.

HackWatch installment on Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) here, on former White House Office of Legal Counsel honcho John Yoo here. If you see an example of a pundit, politician, major blogger, or other Beltway creature who’s done a 180 on this or another issue, please send it here, with links, and “HackWatch” in the subject line.

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14 Responses to “HackWatch: Nancy Pelosi”

  1. #1 |  Jason | 

    Nancy Pelosi is a hypocritical hack.

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    it would be more meaningful to me if you had a ‘not a hack’ watch…

    this is like having a ‘Harley watch’ in Milwaukee…

  3. #3 |  Alex | 

    This doesn’t make any sense to me. John Yoo, whose ideas you admit aren’t specific to Republicans, gets a 9. Pelosi does a perfect 180 and she gets a 7? Don’t get me wrong. I understand that Yoo’s policies are almost uniformly rejected by Constitutional scholars, but they’re at least based in the reality that the President has more power in foreign/national security affairs than domestic policy. OTOH, Pelosi’s beliefs appear to hinge entirely on what party is in power. That, to me, defines a hack, but maybe you just define dumbass and hack more closely than I do.

    OU Sucks.

  4. #4 |  Remfin | 

    You give Yoo far too much credit, Alex. Note the carving out of “legitimacy” for Free Trade Agreements, even though they are just as Constitutionally worrisome as the other things he’s complaining about (like Kyoto). Of course, if Obama asked for union protections–in those countries, which raises no new Constitutional issues for us–in his attempts at FTAs I wouldn’t be surprised if this little exception would magically disappear just like every other Presidential power Yoo was advocating for before Republicans lost.

    I’m guessing her rating is lower for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it’s hardly as flagrantly public as an Op-Ed. Another thing is she didn’t seem to guarantee keeping that right, just various minority rights in general, so it isn’t exactly like going back on her word. And of course, there could be clear substantive differences: will she treat these as party-line votes as they alleged Hastert was? what is the actual mechanical change and how does it compare to what the Republicans were going to do?

  5. #5 |  GaCracker | 

    Call it what you want folks, this is politics.

    I love it. The GOP now gets a taste of being the Dems bitch for two to eight years. Maybe when they return to power – and they will – they’ll remember this and be the “bigger person.”

    Oops, spit up some coffee just now as I was typing that…

    Just tell Boehner to back away from the tanning bed and bend over bitch.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh and you’re little Libertarian dog too…

  6. #6 |  GaCracker | 


  7. #7 |  Eric | 

    I really like this new feature, radley. Thanks.

  8. #8 |  Nando | 

    Nothing unexpected. And, just as Bush was given powers that the Reps are now not happy that Obama will have, the Dems are getting powers that will work against them when the Reps hold the majority (it’s a matter of when, not if).

    Why not just make it fair for everyone and call it a day?

  9. #9 |  Michael Chaney | 

    This is a 10/10, not a 7/10.

  10. #10 |  CHRISC | 

    Lament the decline of the American age. It’s what happens when, in a 2 party system, both parties care more about power than they do about their country. Now, about those lapel pins…

  11. #11 |  BK | 

    Very cool feature. I’m also looking forward to the start of the Barack Obama Libery Meter! Possibly I’m too optimistic but I’m hopeful that we’ll see an occasional uptick in the meter.

    Nice one Radley!

  12. #12 |  The Democrats Should Not Give Republicans A Voice In The House « Blog By Barry | 

    […] under: Elections politics — Ampersand @ 1:34 pm Randy Balko declares Nancy Pelosi a “hack” because in 2004, she proposed a “bill of rights” for the minority Party in the […]

  13. #13 |  Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » The Democrats Should Not Give Republicans A Voice In The House | 

    […] | January 9th, 2009 | Crossposted from Blog By Barry Radley Balko declares Nancy Pelosi a “hack” because in 2004, she proposed a “bill of rights” for the minority Party in the […]

  14. #14 |  Geico Lizardcide ~ ThermionicEmissions | 

    […] proof that Pelosi is just another political sack of dung.  She cries when she’s […]