Blue Dog Dems vs the Congressional Black Caucus/Pelosi.
Politics: Murtha was just the warm-up.
|Nov. 16, 2006 — With the contentious battle for majority leader behind her, Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi soon faces another: appointing the head of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. The Blue Dog Coalition — a now-powerful bloc of centrist Democrats in the House — delivered a letter in support of Rep. Jane Harman of California, a Blue Dog California Democrat and the Intelligence Committee's ranking member. Pelosi's choice for the Intelligence Committee isn't clear. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida is in the running. He's served the committee for seven years and comes with the strong support of the Congressional Black Caucus. Hastings' political baggage — complete with his impeachment from federal judgeship — could hinder his chances. Unlike the leadership battle that took place between Majority Leader-elect Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Pelosi-endorsed Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, the Intelligence Committee decision is Pelosi's choice to make. And whoever gets tapped doesn't need to be confirmed by the party. The Blue Dog Bite But in the 110th Congress, the Blue Dog bite could be just as bad as its collective bark: The pack is 44-strong post-election, accounting for about 20 percent of the House's Democratic majority. "We don't want to be obstructionists, but we don't want to be a rubber stamp," said Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, the Blue Dog Coalition's communications director. "We want to bring the party back to the middle." And on the issues, the middle is generally how the Blue Dogs describe themselves — they tend towards social conservatism, but their focus is fiscal, striving for independence from party leadership.|