Pete Stark is certifiable. He has a penchant for disparaging just about everybody.

He once told a constituent: "I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg; it wouldn't be worth wasting the urine.” He called Blue Dog Democrats, the folks he needs to pass his healthcare bill, "brain dead." He said the Bush Aadministration sent soldiers "to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement." According to Gannett, during the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, he called fellow liberals Tom Lantos and Stephen Solarz “hostile, militant guys,” suggesting their votes came “as a matter of convenience for Israel." He claimed that the children of one of his African-American colleagues were “all born out of wedlock.”

This is the man whom Nancy Pelosi has to invite to all of the healthcare meetings now. With all due respect to the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Ways and Means Committee is the place where most healthcare policy is driven. Without the input of the committee, the process will driven completely out of the leadership office of the Speaker, whose expertise won’t be nearly as deep or substantive.

The problem for Pelosi goes beyond healthcare, however. From taxes to entitlement spending to most other major policy, the Ways and Means Committee is the central place where things happen. Having an unreliable chairman spells trouble for so many other things on the president’s agenda.

The other problem for Pelosi is that the names after Stark aren’t much better until you get to Richard Neal. Neal is a liberal legislator from Massachusetts, but he has a good head on his shoulders. He gets along well with Blue Dog Democrats and he has many friends on the Republican side of the aisle as well.

But for Pelosi to get to Neal, she will have to bypass John Lewis, Sandy Levin and Jim McDermottJames (Jim) Adelbert McDermottSondland has 'no intention of resigning,' associate says Three women accuse Gordon Sondland of sexual misconduct Portland hotel chain founded by Trump ambassador says boycott is attack on employees MORE, which won’t be easy to do. In fact, with Pelosi forcing Rangel out, the Congressional Black Caucus will rebel if John Lewis doesn’t eventually get the spot.

All of this makes for a very interesting couple of months for House Democrats. Pelosi has consolidated most power and run roughshod over her committees for most of her tenure as Speaker. With Stark as chairman, Pelosi will probably be forced to take over even more control of a committee that hasn’t been doing much ever since Rangel’s troubles put him under an ethical cloud.

For a Democratic majority that is already facing a November expiration date, this is not a very welcome development.


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