Nancy wins again

John Boehner as Majority Leader has, so far, appointed one woman to chair a House committee.  All both men and women are white.  The lone woman, Candice Miller, will head the Administration Committee.  In contrast, Nancy Pelosi has announced that she is appointing three women to be the ranking minority member on Appropriations, Finance, and Rules.

Politico reports

Rep. Nita Lowey — Bronx-born, Jewish and Mount Holyoke-educated — was tapped  to be the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday,  making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of that once hidebound  Southern male enclave that famously resisted hiring even female secretaries for decades.

The 75-year-old New Yorker will succeed retiring Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) in  the new Congress just as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will move into the  ranking spot on the House  Financial Services Committee, replacing Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).  Together with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) in the Rules Committee, they pose a  remarkable trio for Democrats: women leading the opposition party in three of  the House’s five most exclusive committees.

Two white women and one African American.  When you have power over money and rules, you begin to have real influence.

And the vote to appoint Representative Lowey was between two women.

Among the top committee posts voted on Tuesday by the Democratic Steering and  Policy Committee, Appropriations was the only real contest. Lowey had to first  get around another woman, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who enjoys more seniority  on the panel but less of a following in the party.

In a secret ballot, the New Yorker prevailed easily, 36-10, and by prior  arrangement, the two lawmakers had agreed not to contest the outcome in the full  caucus. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Kaptur joked beforehand of being the  Toledo Mud Hens vs. the New York Yankees: “I’m just happy to be in the league,” she told reporters.

Unfortunately, there are not enough Republican women in Congress for them to compete for a position.  I don’t expect the picture to change as long as the Republicans continue to hold such anti-women positions.

Nita Lowey is shown at a news conference. | AP Photo

AP photograph of Representative Lowey.

John Boehner makes his move for diversity

After people noticed that all the House committee chairs were chairmen, John Boehner announced the appointment of Candice Miller to head the House Committee on Administration.  Miller is a white woman which does nothing for racial or ethnic diversity, but does give them a token woman in a leadership position.

Politico reports

It’s a consolation prize of sorts for Miller, who lost to Rep. Mike McCaul  (R-Texas) in a three-way race for the Homeland Security chairmanship. In that race, Miller told  POLITICO she was making the pitch that she was “tough enough” to chair the panel  charged with overseeing the nation’s vast homeland security infrastructure.

According to the Committee website, the committee is responsible for a mix of duties ranging from housekeeping (overseeing the dining room) and important (overseeing elections).

Now in its 60th year of existence, CHA’s two principal functions include oversight of federal elections and day-to-day operations in the House.

CHA also exerts great influence on the internal procedures and priorities of the daily operations of the institution. In its first three decades, the committee’s influence grew as it attained the power to fix the level of allowances available to Members, to oversee House officers, to implement new services for Member offices, and to set human resources and management policies for staff and service personnel on the House side of Capitol Hill. CHA has a hand in a number of house-keeping duties outlined in House Rule X. These responsibilities range from disbursing appropriations for committee staff and member staff salaries to handling parking assignments, restaurant services, and the issuance of identification badges. The committee also administers travel allowances for Members, assigns office space, and compiles and publishes information related to campaign financial disclosures. CHA must approve the acceptance or purchase of works of art for the Capitol. Additionally, the committee has oversight of the Library of Congress, the House Library, the Botanic Gardens, and the Smithsonian Institution.

In more recent years the committee has focused on technology updates. Since 1971, with the introduction of House Information Systems, later named House Information Resources (HIR), the committee has introduced technological innovation to the institution. HIR became the primary computer support service for Members and committees. In the 1990s, CHA facilitated development of the House e-mail system and the availability of Internet access, and authorized software and networking upgrades to provide better electronic links between Members’ Washington, D.C., offices and their district offices. In the late 1990s, CHA took a lead role in developing THOMAS, a Library of Congress Web site that provides public access to the Congressional Record, committee reports, roll call votes, and information of the status of bills pending before Congress. The committee also was a moving force in developing a House Intranet system, as well as a reliable cellular phone and text-messaging network for Members and staff.

So while the work of the CHA is not necessarily trivial, it is strange that the only woman to chair a House Committee is in a job that bears more than a passing resemblance to what men would call “women’s work.”  Of course, every woman knows that without someone to take on the management of a household, things do not always run smoothly.

Good managing, Representative Miller.

Rep. Candice Miller is pictured. | AP Photo

AP Photograph.