Pelosi promises to shield frosh from tough votes

As U.S. House members left Washington this week for the holidays, Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised freshmen Democrats and vulnerable incumbents that she will shield them from taking some tough votes next year, according to a published report.

The pledge could be of some help to Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who is among the first-termers expecting competitive races.

According to Democrats inteviewed by The Hill newspaper, Pelosi has promised that she will not schedule votes on controversial issues until the Senate acts first.

House members long have grumbled about how they take tough votes on controversial bills — leaving them vulnerable back home — only to have legislation die in the Senate. For instance the House passed a hot-button climate change bill after bitter debate in June, but there are no votes in sight, at least not yet, in the Senate.

"I think freshmen particularly are not enamored of the idea of being asked to walk the plank on a controverisal item if the Senate is not going to take any action," the paper quoted Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., the freshman class president.

Pelosi told freshmen at a breakfast last week that she will not call for votes on immigration reform until the Senate passes a bill, the Hill said. Reportedly she has extended that promise to other red flag issues, which could include the Employee Free Choice Act or "card check" bill, and repeal of the"don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on gays in the military.

There will be no escaping some tough votes on must-pass bills, like raising the government’s limit on borrowing and funding troops in Afghanistan.

Titus doesn’t think she was in the particular meeting reported by the Hill, but has heard Pelosi talk about next year’s votes, an aide said Thursday.

For Titus, who is being challenged for re-election by former state Sen. Joe Heck and real estate investor Rob Lauer, the issue is not about ducking controversy but about making the best use of limited time.

Titus "doesn’t want the House to lose its focus" on jobs and the economy, "and end up spending time debating bills that aren’t going anywhere in the Senate," according to spokesman Andrew Stoddard.


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