By Mike Soraghan and Molly K. Hooper - 05/21/09 08:04 PM EDT
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) might appear to be under attack from many directions, but House Democrats showed Thursday they have her back.
At a particularly low point in Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker, her chamber rejected a resolution to investigate whether the CIA lied to her about waterboarding by a 252-172 vote.
Not a single Democrat supported the resolution, brought by Republicans to keep the flagging controversy alive.
Not Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who said House leaders “failed” to attain bipartisanship on the stimulus, nor the other six vulnerable Democrats who voted against the stimulus.
Republicans quickly sought to make those centrist Democrats pay for their support. Within an hour, the House GOP campaign arm sent news releases to reporters in the districts of more than 60 vulnerable Democrats accusing them of sweeping the “Pelosi problem under the rug.”
Republicans lost two mavericks — Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) — in the otherwise party-line vote on the resolution.
The support shown by Democrats is solid proof of what Pelosi’s fellow leaders have been saying — that the interrogation controversy hasn’t hurt her standing among the Democrats she leads. No Democrat had publicly criticized her, though several had declined to comment to The Hill when asked about how she was handling the controversy.
“It does not serve our country well to have these kind of politics played out on the floor of the House,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a news conference after the vote to defend her. Hoyer brought with him to the podium examples of Republican leaders criticizing the CIA.
The show of support also boosted Pelosi as she faces another grilling from reporters on Friday.
Her weekly news conference was postponed Thursday because she gave the commencement address at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
It was designed to revive the fading issue just as members head home to face voters during the Memorial Day recess. Democratic leaders have been laboring to arm their members with Democratic accomplishments on credit cards, Pentagon spending and climate change.
Boehner was emphatic that this issue has nothing to do with the current detainee controversy. Rather, he said, it is about whether the Speaker’s accusation is true.
“This is about this one issue that we need to get resolved and need to get resolved soon,” Boehner told reporters. He contended that Pelosi’s charge is having “a chilling effect on our intelligence officials around the world.”
Boehner conceded ahead of time that the GOP effort would likely fail on the floor, but he told The Hill that the press for an investigation into Pelosi’s remarks is not going away anytime soon.