** For all the fanfare about coming changes to US immigration law earlier this year, there is little sign of it now. Comprehensive immigration law changes are not on the action list for Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi. It turns out there is significant opposition within the Democratic Party to the changes pushed by some corporate interests and champions of illegal immigrant rights: Among Democrats elected in swing districts. Among organized labor. And among African-Americans.
** HOUSE INTEL SITUATION STILL UNRESOLVED. Still in the wake of mostly scathing reviews for her attempt to install her ethics reform-eschewing ally, Congressman John Murtha, as the new House majority leader, House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi has yet to resolve a growing crisis around the crucial chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee. The San Francisco Democrat disdains naming the ranking Democrat on the committee, judged by most to be the best-qualified, LA Congresswoman Jane Harman, a more moderate Democrat and intelligence expert. This seems odd, because the other committee chairmanships are falling along seniority lines. Harman is the best qualified candidate, but she and Pelosi don’t get along well personally and Harman was an early supporter of the Iraq War. But Pelosi’s other options on the committee seem rather underwhelming.
Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings has reportedly been promised the chairmanship by Pelosi. He’s the pick of the Congressional Black Caucus. But prior to his election to the House, he was kicked out of a federal judgeship for malfeasance in office. He would be a PR disaster. The sometimes touted compromise pick, Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes, is dismissed by experts as a career Border Patrol “timeserver.”
Pelosi is getting advice to not be stubborn after the Murtha debacle and go with Harman as the intel chair. Or to be “creative,” and pick someone other than the three names most in play. Given the world situation, it is not a good sign that the incoming House Democratic leadership is so unsettled on this key post.
** IRAQ/IRAN/SYRIA SUMMIT POSTPONED DUE TO BAGHDAD AIRPORT CLOSURE. The Iraqi president’s trip to Tehran today for a scheduled summit with Iran and Syria has just been postponed due to the closure of Baghdad airport. Sectarian violence taking place throughout the Iraqi capital city forced the airport’s closure. Iraq, Syria, and Iran have agreed to hold a summit in the Iranian capital to discuss measures to contain the spreading upheaval in Iraq.
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