Emanuel Bids House Dems Farewell, Promises $600K from Obama for DCCC
Updated 7:34 p.m.
By Paul Kane
In a farewell address to House Democrats, outgoing Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) promised the incoming White House would sweeten the coffers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee by $600,000.
Emanuel, who has taken the job as President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, told his colleagues that the Obama for America committee would donate $500,000 to the DCCC and Emanuel would donate $100,000 from his campaign committee, according to a Democrat in the room.
Emanuel spoke to House Democrats today at their organizational meeting to elect their leadership team, including a replacement for his old post as Democratic caucus chairman (the full lineup is on the jump). Emanuel's rise to power came from his 2005-2006 chairmanship of the DCCC, when House Democrats rode an anti-President Bush wave to reclaim the majority for the first time since 1994.
While the extra $600,000 comes too late to help most Democrats this year, it could come in handy in a run-off election next month for the seat of retiring Rep. James McCrery (R-La.).
The gift from Obama's campaign -- legally known as a transfer of excess cash -- is the first sign of what is likely to be a large pile of left-over campaign money, as Obama for America has continued to raise money even after winning the election two weeks ago.
Known for his blunt demeanor and foul-mouthed language, Emanuel appeared to get choked up at one point addressing his colleagues, the Democrat in the room said, because it was "not an easy decision for me" to leave the House.
He predicted that if the Obama White House and congressional Democrats work well together, the party could gain seats in the 2010 midterm elections, just as House Democrats picked up nine seats in 1934 despite big wave election cycles in 1930 and 1932.
"I want you to know, I've got your back. I'll feel better knowing that you you've got my back," Emanuel said.
The House Democrats' leadership roster for the 111th Congress:
Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi of California
Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer of Maryland
Majority Whip: James E. Clyburn of South Carolina
Democratic Caucus Chairman: John B. Larson of Connecticut (replacing Emanuel)
Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman: Xavier Becerra of California (replacing Larson)
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: Chris Van Hollen of Maryland (also given leadership post of assistant to the speaker)
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