By Josephine Hearn - 12/07/06 12:00 AM EST
Incoming Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) named two new members to his whip team yesterday: Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus with close regional ties to Clyburn, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a member of the Thirty-Something Working Group who has been active in the Democrats’ campaign operation.
Butterfield and Wasserman Schultz will join a team of nine chief deputy whips serving directly under Clyburn in the next Congress. The seven others — Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) — served in the same role this Congress under outgoing Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Lewis will remain as the senior chief deputy whip.
One member of Hoyer’s whip team, however, Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), will not serve again next year.
Kind spokeswoman Stephanie Lundberg said that incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had called her boss earlier in the week and suggested that he resign the post. He agreed to do so, she said, in order to focus on other leadership opportunities. Kind remains one of the leaders of the New Democrat Coalition and the Sportsmans’ Caucus.
“He resigned from the position to focus on his other leadership roles and key legislative priorities he hopes to advance next year,” she said. “If the leadership had wanted to keep the Hoyer whip team together, including Mr. Kind, [Kind] would have considered it.”
Pelosi appoints the chief deputy whips in consultation with Clyburn.
“He said he’d gotten a call from her,” Clyburn said. “I told him I was sorry I couldn’t work with him.”
“I know Ron,” he continued, “He’s a good friend, darn good golfer. It wasn’t my choice to make,” Clyburn said. “I told her the two I wanted to add. It was her choice [to eliminate Kind]. I didn’t tell her I did not want anyone. I wanted to expand the number of chief deputy whips to 10 plus the senior whip.”
Kind has been seeking a seat on the Ways and Means Committee, and many times members are asked to give up other plum assignments in order to win seats on exclusive committees.
The announcement may signal that Pelosi does not intend to appoint Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). It would be unusual for a member to serve as both a chief deputy whip and DCCC chair, as both jobs require a significant time commitment. The DCCC post also requires substantial travel around the country to recruit and manage candidates.
Until now Wasserman Schultz had been on a short list of DCCC chairman contenders. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are also considered leading contenders.
A spokesman for Wasserman Schultz said she had not taken her name out of the running for the DCCC post.
“We have not heard anything about the DCCC. We just look forward to working to expand the caucus in numbers and agenda in any way we can,” he said, noting that Wasserman Schultz was “very excited” about her appointment as a chief deputy whip.
Butterfield has been a close ally of Clyburn since the North Carolina Democrat was elected in 2004. The two have interacted in both the Black Caucus and in regional meetings. In fact, Butterfield helped spearhead Clyburn’s campaign for whip.
“He spent 12 days going everywhere I went [on the campaign trail],” Clyburn recalled. “His job was to make sure I did whatever I needed to do to win. We developed a very close and effective working relationship.”
Clyburn said his whip team would be prepared to push the Democrats’ “100 Hours” agenda in January.
“My whip team will be ready to work in the first hundred hours of the new session to honor the campaign promises we made this year,” he said.
Clyburn indicated that he would finalize the rest of his whip team — various groupings of senior whips, assistant whips and whips-at-large — next week. He intended to ask Kind to serve as a senior whip. Democrats also have regional whips, who are elected by 12 geographic groupings of members.
Democratic leadership also took steps yesterday to finalize their roster of committee chairmen. The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee met to nominate chairmen of six panels: Rep. George Miller (D-Calif) for Education and Workforce, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) for Government Reform, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) for Armed Services, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) for International Relations, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) for the Agriculture Committee and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) for Homeland Security.
Pelosi also named her appointees to the Steering and Policy Committee. They are Steering Co-Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Policy Co-Chair George Miller (D-Calif.), Vice Chairs Marion Berry (D-Ark.) and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and Reps. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Artur Davis (D-Ala.), Charlie Melancon (D-La.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Reps.-elect Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).