Sham independence of freshmen House Dems
It seems many Freshman Congressman, including my own North Carolina Congressman Heath Shuler, have regularly been voting against approving the House Journal, which are essentially the minutes of the previous day's work in the House. They have done so for the purpose of making it appear to voters in their districts that they do not march to the tune of Pelosi and company.
Half a dozen freshman Democrats took to the House floor one late-October morning to cast their lot with Republicans.Their actions went unpunished by the Democratic leadership that day, as they have on many other occasions in recent weeks. The symbolic gesture -- casting nay votes on approving the House Journal, essentially the minutes of the previous day -- would have no bearing on the leadership's agenda.While they overwhelmingly support that agenda, the bloc of freshmen has begun casting votes against such minor procedural motions in an effort, Democratic sources and Republican critics say, to demonstrate their independence from their leadership. The number of votes that the potentially vulnerable newcomers to Capitol Hill cast against House leaders is tallied and watched closely by interest groups and political foes.Such is the political life of many of the 42 freshman House Democrats, a sizable number of them moderates and conservatives who must straddle the fence between supporting their party's interests and distancing themselves from a mostly liberal leadership as they gear up for their first reelection battle next fall.