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Term limits for Pelosi's allies?

By Al Kamen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 9:23 PM

Will the minority House Democrats come to order?

As opposition to Rep. Nancy Pelosi's bid to remain the Democrats' leader continues to simmer, some senior House Democrats are contemplating a move to make sure there's new leadership on the party caucus's powerful steering and policy committee.

A draft letter, being floated informally for comment, asks Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), chairman of the caucus's committee on organization, study and review, to declare that two of Pelosi's staunchest House allies, Reps. George Miller (Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) cannot be reappointed as committee co-chairmen.

Pelosi (Calif.), as speaker or party leader, chairs the committee and appoints the co-chairmen.

The letter notes that "Rule 42-I states that 'no member shall be appointed or elected to more than two consecutive full terms' on the steering committee." The rule has been in place and reaffirmed for many years, the draft letter says, because "it values a diverse and representative membership" on the committee by having a "periodic injection of new experiences and perspectives."

While Miller and DeLauro have done a fine job in the past four years when the Dems were in the majority and before that, the letter says, "our caucus needs new members to fill these important leadership positions," and House Democrats should "abide by our own rules and uphold the important principle of term limits" on the committee.

So invoking the rule means Pelosi couldn't reappoint Miller and DeLauro, right? Well, maybe not.

"It is all up to interpretation," one Democratic aide told us. Most everything on the Hill is. The rule might not apply to the co-chairmen, the aide suggested.

Interpretation?

"No member...more than two...terms?" Maybe they really meant two-ish?

Sign of the times

A scrum of dozens of reporters and cameramen waited patiently late Wednesday morning in the hall by the Will Rogers statue near the House floor, awaiting Speaker-to-be Rep. John Boehner's news conference.

There was hardly any room for anyone to walk by in the jammed hallway.

Just then, minutes before Boehner is due to come out, here comes Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing speaker, along with aides and security, trying to squeeze through on the way to the speaker's office. They had to go single file to get through.

Nary a reporter noticed.

A couple of reporters said, "Good morning, Madam Speaker," and she replied, smile in place, "Good morning."

But unlike in pre-election days, nobody chased after her shouting questions. The press remained in place awaiting the next speaker.

Sic transit gloria.

Peer review

Sometimes things can change at warp speed in this town.

Barely six weeks ago, on Sept. 29, the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility's news release headline was "Interior Makes Big Stride on Scientific Integrity."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's new order banning political appointees from monkeying with scientific analyses -- something said to have occurred with some frequency in the previous administration -- "could be transformative," PEER noted.

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch cautioned that, while the order was a "welcome development," it would be prudent to wait for rules to be written and enforced.

Good advice. An e-mail last week from the Alaska regional office of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE, the new name for the infamous Minerals Management Service of gulf-oil-spill fame) told employees that Director

Michael Bromwhich had a new policy: "All outside/public presentations, be they speeches, PowerPoints, technical or other, etc., must be forwarded to [the headquarters] Office of Public Affairs for approval."

The change, the e-mail explained, was that "in the past...regional directors could approve technical papers; papers related to policy, sensitive topics, or national in scope had to be forwarded" to headquarters. "Now all papers must go to HQ." And don't forget to use Form 1982 -- "Request for Approval of Official Expression by Oral Presentation." (Bureaucrats and the English language are mortal enemies.)

Ruch fired off a protest letter to Salazar blasting the "chilling effect" he said the scrubbing policy would have on agency scientists.

In addition, he noted that another Interior agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, has "completely eliminated" such prior reviews of scientific work. Having public affairs flacks review scientific work smacked of political control.

A BOEMRE spokesman said that Ruch was being "reckless, irresponsible and misguided," Greenwire reported, and that the policy is not really new and is only intended to make announcements more coordinated and coherent, not to censor.

Well, as Ronald Reagan always said, "trust but verify."

Isn't that special?

Kris Balderston, now the State Department's deputy special representative for global partnerships, moves up to run the small office, which coordinates the department's links with the private sector. He worked in Bill Clinton's White House and then for Hillary Rodham Clinton for her entire eight years in the Senate before they both moved to Foggy Bottom.

Kris Balderston, now the State Department's deputy special representative for global partnerships, moves up to run the small office, which coordinates the department's links with the private sector. He worked in Bill Clinton's White House and then for Hillary Rodham Clinton for her entire eight years in the Senate before they both moved to Foggy Bottom.

Balderston replaces Elizabeth Bagley, a former Madeleine Albright aide and ambassador to Portugal. Bagley, apparently the first of the two dozen or so "special" people -- representatives, advisers or envoys -- to leave such a post, has been tapped to be Clinton's adviser for special initiatives, including the U.S. Center for Diplomacy.

Balderston replaces Elizabeth Bagley, a former Madeleine Albright aide and ambassador to Portugal. Bagley, apparently the first of the two dozen or so "special" people -- representatives, advisers or envoys -- to leave such a post, has been tapped to be Clinton's adviser for special initiatives, including the U.S. Center for Diplomacy.

News from Lugarland

Speaking of moves in the foreign policy world, Andy Fisher, former communications director and deputy chief of staff to vet­eran Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) -- and more recently on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff -- is leaving the Hill to be vice president of the Cohen Group, a multinational business consulting firm.

Speaking of moves in the foreign policy world, Andy Fisher, former communications director and deputy chief of staff to vet­eran Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) -- and more recently on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff -- is leaving the Hill to be vice president of the Cohen Group, a multinational business consulting firm.

Fisher, who began working for Lugar in 1983, also worked at the Agriculture Department and had been the owner, publisher and editor of the News & Farmer newspaper on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Mark Helmke, another longtime Lugar aide, replaces Fisher.

The 78-year-old Lugar, by the way, is putting his campaign together to run for a seventh Senate term in 2012. Emily Krueger, a former Lugar aide who left to get a master's degree in business administration, has been tapped to be his campaign manager in Indianapolis.

The 78-year-old Lugar, by the way, is putting his campaign together to run for a seventh Senate term in 2012. Emily Krueger, a former Lugar aide who left to get a master's degree in business administration, has been tapped to be his campaign manager in Indianapolis.

kamena@washpost.com

Staff writer Philip Rucker contributed to this column.

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