- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 18, 2006

A liberal group working to win back the House for Democrats this November has an idea of who would be in charge if the minority party regains power. MoveOn.org’s vision includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and putting Rep. John P. Murtha in charge of defense budget measures.

The group sent out a fundraising e-mail to supporters earlier this month outlining the kind of changes voters would see under a Democratic House majority.

“We can put progressive leaders in control of Congress when we break the Republican stranglehold on Congress. Hope is coming,” the e-mail states.

The MoveOn.org e-mail, sent March 9, solicits donors and notes, “2006 is our best opportunity yet.”

In addition to Mrs. Pelosi taking over from Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, the e-mail says Mr. Murtha would become chairman of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations. This would put the Pennsylvania Democrat, a decorated Vietnam veteran who has called for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, in charge of the war’s budget, MoveOn.org points out.

There are currently 201 Democrats, 231 Republicans and one independent in the House. Two seats are vacant.

The minority party hopes to capitalize on record-low poll numbers that show Americans disapprove of the Bush White House and of congressional Republicans.

“From the war in Iraq to the Medicare prescription-drug bill and a number of issues in between, the American people understand now that they no longer can afford George Bush and the rubber-stamp Republican Congress,” Mrs. Pelosi told reporters at a briefing last week.

The California Democrat said members of her party are “eager” to explain their agenda to voters if they were to capture the majority in Congress, and highlighted national security and energy independence as two key issues.

Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, said he would like to see Mrs. Pelosi become speaker, but worries that Democrats will fall short of a majority come November.

He blamed redistricting and said he thinks the party has a chance at turning about a dozen seats, leaving Democrats just shy of the magic number needed for a majority.

Still, MoveOn.org is soliciting donations by telling voters about changes they would see if Democrats won a majority in the House.

Those include:

• Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, would be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

• Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, would become chairman of the Government Reform Committee. “He has a bull’s-eye on war profiteers like Halliburton,” MoveOn.org says.

• Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, would become chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

• Rep. David R. Obey would be chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. MoveOn.org says Mr. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, would protect Medicaid, food stamps and student loans.

• Rep. George Miller, California Democrat, could bring a vote to raise the minimum wage as chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

• Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, would protect Social Security as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

“Put aside for a minute any disappointment you might have in the Democrats overall; these leaders are what we’ll get if we win in November,” MoveOn.org told supporters. “They are champions on issues we all care about.”

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