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What Is Even the Point of Trying to Make Pelosi Speaker?

Blast From The Past: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gavels health care reform bill vote.

President Obama went to a DCCC fundraiser and told all the big donors about how he needed Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House again. He claimed it would be a “whole lot easier to govern” if she were.

While the line was meant to get donors to open their wallets, it is so completely detached from the reality in Washington that it seems more appropriate as a punch line than a call to action.

By far the biggest obstacle to Obama’s ability to govern is not Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) it is the Senate Democrats’ insane decision to give the Republican minority the power to veto everything. It is not the House that is stopping Obama from filling a shocking number of vacant judgeships or getting important executive branch appointments confirmed. That is purely the result of Democrats refusing to reform or eliminate the filibuster.

Additionally, there is little reason to believe Democrats winning the House would significantly improve the quality of legislation. Looking at the Senate map, there is no way Democrats will have 60 seats after 2014, so the filibuster will remain the main barrier unless Democrats finally change it. Over the past few years there aren’t many bills that have overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate only to die in the House.

It is possible a Democratic House would at least make it possible to pass a few bills using reconciliation, but back in 2009-2010 Obama was incredibly adverse to use that tool. Overall, making Pelosi Speaker would make only a modest difference, unless Senate Democrats finally start acting like a majority.

Until the Democratic Party decides it actually wants to govern, it is hard to make an honest case for why people should try to get them elected.

Photo: C-SPAN screenshot

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at