Summit Notebook

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If Democrats hold US House, Pelosi seen concentrating power-lobbyist

September 21, 2010

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/JOSTENIf Democrats are able to hang on to the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely be able to concentrate her power because there will be fewer conservative Democrats giving her a hard time on critical votes, according to top senior lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Political prognosticators have said that Republicans are within striking distance of taking control of the House in November, with Republicans needing a net gain of 40 seats and polls showing them closing in on that target.

“She’ll have a much more cohesive conference than she has now because it’s the middle that’s anticipated to get cratered in this election,” Bruce Josten told the Reuters Washington Summit.  “Most of the seat losses anticipated come from the people that are the hardest votes to get on party-line unity votes.”

Pelosi has had a tough time over the last few years holding onto votes from conservative Democrats, like the Blue Dog Democrats who have lobbied hard to ensure most legislation does not add to the bloated federal deficit.

“She’ll have a lot less negotiating to have to do, she’ll have a stronger more cohesive conference, oddly enough, than what she has had,” Josten said, adding a cautionary note that “she’ll have less margin … but literally most of the members of the Progressive Caucus are in safe districts.”FINANCIAL-REGULATION/DEMOCRATS

Many of the Blue Dog Democrats have decided against running for re-election or are facing tough bids to return to Washington.

Josten also said that if Republicans are able to win control of the House, predictions that they will be able to significantly alter the health care law that was passed earlier this year are probably overblown.

“I think they’re going to have to look at rifle shot opportunities in the health care area,” Josten said, suggesting revamping the popular Medicare Advantage program and that Republicans may also try to choke off funding to the regulatory agencies charged with implementing it.

For more news from the Reuters Washington Summit click here.

- Photo credits: Kevin Lamarque (Chamber of Commerce’s Bruce Josten); Jim Young (Pelosi)

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