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House chafes at Senate 'dithering,' plans 2010 payback

December 16, 2009 |  9:09 am

U.S. Capitol

The House of Representatives has always been the stepchild. With 435 members, it's hard to remember all the players, let alone invite them all on TV. The Senate, with only 100 members, each with a lot more power, usually basks in the attention.

This week, as President Obama courted members of the Senate Democratic Caucus on healthcare, House Democrats went public with long-festering resentments toward what some refer to as the Upper Chamber.

“There is a growing sense that we’re lifting more than our share,” California Democrat Xavier Becerra told Politico. “Members are hoping the Senate will kick into gear because the public expects a lot more to get done.” Added Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern, “Sometimes I get the feeling that some of those guys [in the Senate] just like to see their names in the paper and see their faces on TV."

Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello accused the Senate of "dithering" and California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, who often presides over the House, added,  “If you just take a look at the number of bills we’ve sent to the Senate and what they’ve done, I don’t know what they’re doing with their time honestly."

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So it came as no surprise last week when Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised House freshmen that in 2010 she would not force them to vote on any controversial issues -- immigration, union protection, same-sex marriage -- unless the Senate goes first.

“The speaker has told members in meetings that we’ve done our jobs,” one aide told the Hill newspaper. “Next year the Senate’s going to have to prove what it can accomplish before we go sticking our necks out any further.”

Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly, who heads the freshman class, said Pelosi's message was well received. “Freshmen, particularly, are not enamored of the idea of being asked to walk the plank on a controversial item if the Senate is not going to take any action,” he said.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: Jeff Hunter / Getty Images

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