- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 14, 2001

Rep. Nancy Pelosi's election as the No. 2 Democratic leader in the House puts a new sheen on California's congressional delegation, which has often lacked the clout to match its size.
Mrs. Pelosi will become the highest-ranking woman in congressional history when she takes over as Democratic whip on Jan. 15.
By 2003, the state will account for 53 of the 435 seats in the House, a gain of one from today that reflects California's population growth.
California Republicans already hold influential posts in the GOP-controlled House: Rep. Bill Thomas is chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee; Rep. David Dreier leads the Rules Committee, which determines what legislation reaches the House floor; Rep. Jerry Lewis is chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee with control of defense spending; and Rep. Christopher Cox is the Republican Policy Committee chairman, fifth in the GOP House hierarchy.
In the Senate, Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, each took over two subcommittees including one for each that deals with terrorism when Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords defected from the Republican Party and became an independent, putting Democrats in charge.
"This is among the high-water marks for California in Congress," said Tim Ransdell, executive director of the California Institute, a nonpartisan group in Washington created to boost California's influence in Congress. "The state is in a better position than it has been for a long time."
Mr. Dreier acknowledged that the state's House delegation has not always had the legislative pull to match its size. "I think we've got it now," he said.
Once upon a time, California did not need much from its congressional delegation. Its economy grew no matter what happened in Washington.
But when the government dramatically reduced defense spending beginning about a decade ago, California's economy slowed, the large delegation did not provide much help and the state bore a disproportionate share of the cutbacks, Mr. Ransdell said.
Bruce Cain, a political science professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said partisan divisions within the delegation hurt the state.
By contrast, much smaller Georgia, with a long history of powerful committee chairmen, including former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, and with Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich in charge of the House as of 1995, largely avoided the military reductions.
Mr. Gingrich and his loyalists were partly responsible for dimming California's importance in Congress. They forced Mr. Lewis, viewed as too willing to work with Democrats, from his position in the Republican leadership two years before Republicans ended 40 years of Democratic control of the House. When the Republicans took over, Mr. Gingrich twice passed over California Rep. Carlos Moorhead, who was in line to lead either the Commerce or Judiciary committees.
At the same time, several California Democrats lost powerful subcommittee chairmanships.

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