“She’s all about image, and she fought this change to the death,” says a moderate House member. “To our way of thinking, there was nothing for us to do on Friday, she had us wasting time when we could be home doing something, like campaigning and raising money. She didn’t seem to understand that if we can’t do either, she isn’t going to have a majority next time.”
Hoyer announced last week that he’d cut the Friday from the work week, which would allow members to leave town as early as Thursday afternoon for their home districts if they chose to do so.
Hoyer, who has long been considered a more powerful House member than Pelosi based on his fundraising prowess and Capitol Hill connections, has been hearing it from mostly moderate and conservative members, and even a few of Pelosi’s supporters of late. “They feel like we’re stuck in the mud and playing the Republicans’ game,” says a House leadership aide with ties to Hoyer. “Last week was a bad week for the House Speaker and she didn’t seem to even know it.”
Last week the House held its one-thousandth roll call vote this year, the first time Congress had reached that level since the ratification of the Constitution. Pelosi’s office demanded that Democrats mark the event as a victory for the party, against the advice of Hoyer and other party leaders.
“It only served to highlight just how little we’ve actually achieved compared to what we promised,” says the House aide. “Out of those thousand votes, about ten percent were bills that became law and half of those were namings of federal buildings and such. Fifty bills in a year doesn’t compare to what we promised, and she wanted to put a spotlight on it. She just doesn’t get it sometime.”
Pelosi has promised Rep. Barney Frank that he will get a House vote on legislation to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He thought he was going to get the vote last week, but instead saw it pulled from the agenda after a Democrat-sponsored amendment extended the same right to individuals who chose to change their sex.
Another reason: “Republicans wanted an exemption for religious groups, and that’s the thing that killed it for us,” says a House leadership aide. “The folks pushing this bill want the religious groups to have to deal with this issue, they aren’t going to get out from under it if we have our way.”