Political potpourri: News, notes and the art of politics

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  Dec. 5, 2010 at 4:30 AM
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The politicking may be over, but politics go on ... and on ... and on. Here are some stories that may have flown beneath the radar:

Outgoing House members join Dilbert in Cube City

While Republicans measure offices for drapes, House Democrats who won't be back in January are working in a cube city configured in a pair of Rayburn Office Building dining rooms.

Party leaders say it may be difficult to rally the troops and maintain party discipline during the lame-duck session because outgoing lawmakers may perceive little need to toe the party line if it does not suit them and may not even hang around if the post-election session extends well into December, Congress.org reported.

"The leadership knows it's a problem. They are trying to conclude this as quickly as possible," one senior aide said. "They know that nobody who is leaving office really wants to be here."

More than 90 departing House members from both parties are working from cubicles set up in a banquet room and in the back section of a cafeteria dining room, aides said. Overflow accommodations are available in the Ways and Means and Homeland Security committee hearing rooms.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the leadership is working to keep members engaged.

"I think they'll stick around," Hoyer said.

Rules Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., who will be around after January, wasn't very sympathetic, Congress.com said.

"We go through this every two years," she said.

One-party lobbyists adjusting for divided government

The divided government that will be the norm in January offers lemons -- or lemonade -- to single-party lobbying operations up and down K Street.

While such shops market themselves as providing access to party leaders and providing sharper insight into strategy, they also are subject to the electorate's whims every cycle and must scramble when their party is out of power, Roll Call reported recently.

With businesses and trade associations looking for who'll represent their interests on Capitol Hill next year, one-party lobbying firms say they're tinkering with their strategy and expectations.

Firms that are largely Republican say they already see an uptick in business. From 2007 to 2009, BGR Group told Roll Call it saw its lobbying revenue drop from $147.6 million to $92.8 million -- but so far this year the firm has signed 40 new clients.

The same is true for three veteran Republican lobbyists who struck an established firm to form their own company, Crossroads Strategies.

"Certainly people have been eager to take our phone calls," said Stewart Hall, a partner of Crossroads Strategies, whose client list already includes the National Rifle Association, Verizon and AT&T.

Heather Podesta, part of a Democratic power couple whose firm's revenue doubled from 2007 to 2009, told Roll Call she didn't expect her firm to continue the same growth in the coming session.

"Everyone liked being a Democratic firm," she said, adding that the firm fiddle with its strategy, likely spending more time working with clients and House Democrats to implement their agenda through lobbying the federal agencies.

"You will work with them in a different way," she said.

House GOP leadership mulls term limits for top posts

Come January, it's new leadership and possibly new leadership rules when the Republicans assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Among changes being considered: setting term limits for leadership posts.

If approved, the limits would mean House Speaker-apparent John Boehner of Ohio could be the chamber's top Republican for a maximum of six years, The Hill reported. Still undecided would be whether the term-limiting would be retroactive or take effect at the beginning of the 112th Congress.

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told The Hill he would "be supportive of what's being proposed, which is a six-year term limit for each position."

The House's GOP transition team is considering the idea and could approve in the next few weeks. Aides say the concept would be popular among the huge incoming Republican class, because a term-limit rule would send a signal they will be able to advance in the House's GOP's hierarchy.

A six-year term limit on leadership posts is consistent with the House Republican conference policy on chairmanships and ranking-member positions. Republicans cannot serve in a House committee's top slot for more than six years without a waiver.

Dodd bids adieu on the floor, Twitter

Outgoing Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., gave farewell remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday, alerting his Twitter followers about the event.

"Soon I'll be heading to the Senate floor to deliver my farewell address after serving the people of Connecticut for over 30 years," he tweeted. "There are no words strong enough to describe what an honor and privilege it has been."

It was a battle of complimentary tweets between Dodd and other members of Connecticut's congressional delegation, The Hill reported.

"Heading to the Senate floor to deliver farewell remarks in honor of my longtime friend and colleague," tweeted Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn.

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., said, "Thank you (at)SenChrisDodd for your service to Connecticut and our nation."

After Dodd's remarks, Courtney tweeted, "Tremendous final floor speech by (at)SenChrisDodd. Stirring end of another chapter in his lifetime of public service."

Dodd was elected to the Senate in 1980 after serving six years in the House of Representatives. He announced he wouldn't seek re-election this year.

Jeb Bush sides with Mom in Palin flap

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is siding with his mom in her back-and-forth with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- but still gave kudos to Palin for her political savvy.

"If it's between my mom and Governor Palin, I've got to go with my mom, just in general, because she's my mother," Bush told NewsMax.TV.

He said he wasn't going to get in trouble with his 85-year-old mom, Barbara, by disagreeing, even though she "occasionally from time to time says things that give us all great joy, and sometimes some consternation."

During a recent interview on CNN, Barbara Bush was asked for her view on Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

"Well, I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she's very happy in Alaska," Bush said. "And I hope she'll stay there."

Bush's remarks prompted Palin to say in a radio interview: "I don't want to sort of concede that we have to get used to this kind of thing because I think the majority of Americans don't want to put up with the bluebloods -- and I say it with all due respect because I love the Bushes -- but the bluebloods ... want to pick and choose their winners instead of allowing competition to pick and choose the winners."

While siding with his mother, Jeb Bush complimented Palin's political prowess, saying she has "fantastic political instincts" and connects well with people.

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