Nancy Pelosi was hoping to avoid cameras as she walked into a fundraiser at a Washington restaurant. It was a CNN intern who caught cell phone video of her and her staff entering the event through a kitchen door. Twelve of the people listed as hosts on the invitation are former Pelosi staffers, advisers or aids.
CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin looks at how Capitol Hill is turning into something of a "Lobbying University," where staffers are learning the ropes before joining in this lucrative field.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi discusses the contentious voice vote to amend the Democratic platform and include language relating to God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. "It's been corrected, we move on from there. Platforms are usually even much more controversial than that," Pelosi tells Anderson Cooper.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the DNC Chairman, called for a vote three times before announcing the platform had been amended by a two-thirds majority.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/03/01/democrats.reconciliation/story.pelosisummit.gi.jpg caption="Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended the bipartisan health summit last week." width=300 height=169]
During last week's health care summit, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for a fresh start in the efforts to reform the nation's health care system. He criticized the bill passed by the Senate, particularly its language pertaining to abortion. Boehner said that the bill "allows for the taxpayer funding of abortion."
President Barack Obama did not directly respond to Boehner's assertion, but said that the minority leader had taken the conversation "back to the standard talking points that Democrats and Republicans have had for the last year." As the summit was winding down, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, strongly addressed Boehner's statement, saying, "There is no public funding of abortion in this bill."
The Daily Beast
Programming Note: John Avlon will appear on tonight's AC360°
They think you're stupid.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/25/art.getty.rush.limbaugh.jpg caption="Rush Limbaugh ranks on Avlon's list of Washington saboteurs."]
Ninety-three percent of Americans believe that Washington is too partisan, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll taken one month ago.
That's not a subtle message. Ninety percent of Americans rarely agree on anything—60 percent is a landslide mandate in elections. But the professional partisans and pundits in Washington have been falling over themselves arguing that bipartisanship is a fool's game as of late. They insist that Americans must get more sophisticated when it comes to the ways of Washington and embrace the town's bitter and predictable partisanship as both wise and inevitable.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/01/obama.latino.town.hall.jpg caption="President Obama addresses a Latino Town Hall meeting while campaigning in 2008."]
Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN
It's time again for New Year's resolutions, especially if Congress and the White House really plan to reopen the explosive immigration debate in 2010. Whether or not they do depends on which part of the political carnival you're looking at.
This week, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Obama administration is discreetly laying the groundwork to tackle immigration reform early next year.
According to the article, senior White House aides have privately assured Latino immigration activists that President Obama will throw his support behind legislation in Congress to provide a path to earned legalization for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now living in the United States.
But last week, the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has been offering some private assurances of her own. Pelosi, the article says, has told fellow Democrats not to worry about having to address immigration reform until the Senate acts first.
By passing the buck to "the world's greatest deliberative body," Pelosi is probably hoping that deliberation will become dithering and delay. Then the House can duck the volatile issue altogether. It's the politics of self-preservation. Concerned that voters would react negatively to any talk of legalizing millions of illegal immigrants, Pelosi is obviously trying to preserve her job by protecting vulnerable Democrats.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/18/pelosi.torture/art.pelosi.gi.jpg caption="House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing everything in her power to get health care reform passed"]
CNN Senior Political Analyst
The story so far: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does everything in her power to get health care reform passed by keeping her Democratic caucus together.
She keeps liberals by insisting on a public option. She works on fiscal moderates by re-jiggering it. She works on lowering the cost of the package. She pays for it by taxing millionaire couples, appealing to the class-warfare crowd.
And to keep the Catholic bishops (and their moderate allies) on board, she keeps severe restrictions on paying for abortion in the measure. The liberals, of course, threaten to bolt - but it remains in the final package.
This is not legislating; it's whack-a-mole.
The challenge is simply to try and keep your unruly team in line, and maybe pick up a stray vote or two from the opposition. If you succeed, it's not about bipartisanship. It's just salesmanship.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/20/art.pelosi0720.gi.jpg caption="Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi"]
On Saturday morning, about 12 hours before the House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation to expand health care coverage to almost all Americans, President Barack Obama did what he does best: he gave an inspirational speech meant to rally recalcitrant House Democrats. Many in the room credited Obama with swaying the last of the fence sitters. "A few members that were leaning no told me afterward that they'd been moved to vote yes," Representative Rob Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, told reporters after the meeting.
Obama spoke of doing something greater than yourself. He asked House Dems to join him in "bending the arc of history," a phrase he first invoked in his election-victory speech a year ago before 125,000 people in Chicago's Grant Park. And though there was cheering and chants of "Fired up, ready to go!" this was no easy sell for Obama. The vote came the same week as Democrats lost the Virginia and New Jersey governors' mansions, and a day after the Labor Department reported a 26-year record unemployment rate of 10.2%. Preaching altruism in such a climate to politicians bent on self-preservation is tough. In the end Democrats lost 39 of their own — passing the bill 220-215 with a cushion of just two votes, one of those a Republican in a heavily Democratic Louisiana district.
Democrats on Capitol Hill spent some of the aftermath congratulating themselves on their historic achievement, but they knew as well as anyone that it was far too early to really celebrate. Obama's speech, after all, was strikingly partisan, lambasting the GOP for doing nothing more than "saying no, stopping progress, gumming up the works." That change in tone from his fruitless attempts at outreach 10 months before in the run-up to the stimulus vote made it clear that Democrats are now resigned to going it alone both in the House and the Senate. Majority leader Harry Reid has moved away from the lone Republican still negotiating on health care, Maine's Olympia Snowe, and toward a plan to pass the bill relying solely on Democratic votes, of which he'll need every one in order to overcome the threat of a filibuster by Republicans.
Editor's Note: While health care reform proposals are still being reconciled on the Senate floor, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled the House plan Thursday at a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Read the full contents of the proposed bill.
The battle over health care reform reached another milestone Thursday as top House Democrats unveiled sweeping legislation that includes a highly controversial public health insurance option.
The nearly 2,000 page bill - a combination of three different versions passed by House committees - would cost $894 billion over 10 years and extend insurance coverage to 36 million uncovered Americans, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
It guarantees that 96 percent of Americans have coverage, Pelosi said. The figure is based on an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Among other things, the bill would subsidize insurance for poorer Americans and create health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage. It would also cap annual out-of-pocket expenses and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
CNN Congressional Producer
House Democratic leaders are preparing to unveil a health care bill as soon as Thursday that includes a more moderate version of the public option, one that allows doctors to negotiate reimbursement rates with the federal government, several Democratic leadership aides tell CNN.
That’s a blow to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has argued for a more “robust” version of a the public option, one that ties reimbursement rates for providers and hospitals to Medicare rates plus a 5% increase. But Pelosi and other Democratic leaders appear to be bowing to the reality that after a week of canvassing rank and file Democrats, her preferred approach does not have enough votes. Instead the more moderate version of a public option, favored by rural and moderate Members, appears to have the most support among House Democrats.
One of these Democratic aides told CNN “the votes aren't there for robust public option, so that means we're looking at the other form of the public option.”
This aide said House Democratic leaders will meet Wednesday afternoon to make final decisions.
House Democratic leaders are planning to unveil their health care bill at a big event on the West Front of the Capitol Thursday morning. However, these sources cautioned the bill is still not final, and the event for Thursday is tentative.
“The overall message is the same as it's been at the beginning. We're committed to a bill with a public option,” one aide told CNN, arguing that the House is still presenting a strong health reform bill.
Democratic leaders expect to get a final cost estimate today from the Congressional Budget Office.