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Can House Democrats Mount a Senate-style Filibuster?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) -- joined by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-Md.), left, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) -- speaks on Capitol Hill, May 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Paul Kane
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gathered three of her top lieutenants around her this morning to talk about health-care reform, climate change legislation, credit card abuse, veterans funding, children's health insurance expansion, regulating tobacco as a drug, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, budget deficits and mortgage industry fraud, to name a few subjects.

What Peloisi and her leadership team did not discuss was the controversy swirling around her accusation last week that the CIA intentionally misled Congress about its interrogation techniques on captured al Qaeda operatives. In a roughly 30-minute press conference -- her first since last week's widely panned weekly briefing, which was televised nationally by the cable networks -- Pelosi and her allies spent 26 minutes talking about the issues they preferred to stick with, while ignoring the CIA-briefing matter. They fielded little more than 4 minutes worth of questions, only one of which dealt with the intelligence briefing matter.

"I have made the statement I am going to make by this," said Pelosi. "I stand by my comment."

But the symbolism of the moment was meant to be crystal clear: House Democrats stand behind their speaker, so please stop pestering them with questions about this matter. Pelosi assembled around her House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a former rival for leadership posts; Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and close ally of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), the No. 5 ranking Democrat in leadership.

Hoyer began his remarks by talking up the "extraordinarily close working team", one of four times in his brief remarks that Hoyer said that the House leadership team worked "close" or "closely" together along with Senate leadership and the White House. "I want to close in saying that the speaker and I consider ourselves a close team, bringing all of our caucus together to create the consensus for change," Hoyer said.

When Pelosi received her only question about the CIA matter, Hoyer edged next to her almost hoping to step in and mount his own defense of Pelosi. The unified front behind Pelosi came a day after every House Democrat casting a vote rejected a GOP effort to create a special subcommittee on the intelligence panel to investigate the assertion that Pelosi was lied to by the CIA.

Once the weekly press conference concluded, Republicans immediately accused Pelosi and her lieutenants of staging a filibuster to avoid the questions. "Speaker Pelosi stammered and filibustered around the elephant in the room because she knows full well that she has become a political liability to her fellow Democrats in Congress. Her obsession with the previous administration and her disdain for America's intelligence officials has reduced her to cheerleader status within the far left wing of her party," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Some cable outlets were initially covering the press conference live, but turned away a few minutes once it became apparent that the other leaders were going to speak.

Pelosi has left the country now for a weeklong trip to China, a nation that she has spent decades criticizing for its human rights abuses. Worth noting: Pelosi didn't just avoid questions about her CIA briefings.

She also deflected three different questions about whether she would raise human rights as an issue with Chinese leaders, instead talking about her efforts to get the leaders of the world's largest socialist nation to agree to an effort to reach a global climate change accord by December.

By Washington Post editors  |  May 22, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders  
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Next: Pelosi Raises Human Rights Concerns in China


So why do the republicans think that Cheney, Bush, Boehner, Rumsfeld, etc, will be exempt from an investigation? Is this just wishful thinking on their part?

Posted by: blarsen1 | May 22, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi is a vaporous hag and needs to not only step down as the Speaker, but out of office. Hopefully she will have Franks and Dodds under each arm on her way out.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | May 24, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

so why does this have to have anything to do with rebublicans or democrats?are we not intelligent enough to see that congress,as well as senate are filled with traitors to the people?we have a has been,pelosi,who would not be able to tell the truth even if she were waterboarded,she has lied so much she honestly cant remember the truth,and people on both sides slapping pork spending at a time children are hungry in the once so great united states.
we have a president who is,and always has been nothing more than a community orrganizer for thug organizations like the unions who own him,and acorn,protected by parasites on the ass of humanity,like barney franks,murtha,rangel,and at least ten others.

Posted by: silusdogood | May 25, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

The best hope for the Republicans is that Pelosi hangs on to the Speakership right up to the 2010 elections. What a rallying point and target she will present as the Repubs attack the moronic antics of Pelosi and her fellow Democrats in the House.

Collectively, they are gifting the Republicans with an assured path to victory with their unnecessary and ruinous bailouts, excessive spending, attempts to impose draconian taxes, a ridiculous truth commission, coddling of terrorists, closing of Gitmo, support of corrupt members (Murtha and Johnson for instance), Pelosi’s big mouth and malicious meddling in foreign affairs, promotion of unwanted and expensive programs such as Universal Health Care, wasteful spending on non-existent global warming and non-harmful greenhouse gases, and continuous lying about stupid blunders.

If the Republicans cannot ride all of this and more to an overwhelming victory in 2010, they deserve to vanish from the political scene. Somehow, I believe they are smart and astute enough to take advantage of all these gifts.

Posted by: ehampson | May 25, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

blarsen1: So why do the republicans think that Cheney, Bush, Boehner, Rumsfeld, etc, will be exempt from an investigation? Is this just wishful thinking on their part?
They don't. They think that if Pelosi is pulled into it there won't be an investigation.

Posted by: James10 | May 26, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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