Charlie Melancon And The House Budget Committee

In an interesting bit of news today, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-Napoleonville) has resigned his position on the House Budget Committee. What’s unclear is whether Melancon is making this move voluntarily or whether he’s being punished for voting against Obamacare.

According to Melancon, it’s his call. His people told TheHill.com that it’s really about his commitment to the Energy and Commerce Committee, “where he can more directly fight for Louisiana’s thousands of workers and businesses in the oil and gas industry.”

The fact that Melancon is running for the U.S. Senate and is significantly behind incumbent David Vitter both in the polls and with respect to fundraising was also mentioned as a reason he’s cutting back.

But unnamed Louisiana Democrat Party sources told the web site that he “was under pressure from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) to support reconciling the House and Senate versions of healthcare legislation,” and that’s why he’s not on the budget committee anymore.

Believe what you like about this one. Frankly, it’s right up Charlie’s alley for the perception to be out there that he was knocked off the budget committee as punishment for not doing Pelosi’s bidding. Pelosi is slightly less popular than syphilis in this state, and Obamacare has about the same reputation. So given that Melancon is trying to establish a calling card as a conservative Blue Dog Democrat willing to buck his party’s leadership – a presentation that his eight percent rating from the American Conservative Union (Dollar Bill Jefferson got an 11 percent rating, by comparison) largely debunks – letting it out there that Pelosi ran him through for not toeing the line on Obamacare is a gold-plated move. “I’m a conservative and I’ve got the scars to prove it,” and so on.

Tomorrow’s Baton Rouge Advocate might kiss Melancon’s ring along these lines, but the paper won’t be able to do it without also running Vitter’s reaction to the news. The Senator delivered a stinger this afternoon:

“Charlie is always saying how he works behind the scenes to get things done, but I’m starting to wonder if Charlie works at all. He won’t hold a public town hall meeting and now he is quitting from the House Budget Committee so he won’t have to take tough votes on the huge Washington spending measures that Obama and Pelosi ask him to support. Louisiana needs a fighter, not a quitter.”

Vitter also mentioned that a year ago Melancon quit his post on the House committee governing NASA, which meant one less advocate for the Michoud facility in New Orleans East at a time Louisiana could use one.

Whatever the real reason for the resignation, Louisiana’s interests seem much better served by its congressional delegation being on more committees, not less. Melancon coming off the budget committee at a time when something needs to be done to knock a trillion dollars or more off federal spending before the government bankrupts itself doesn’t exactly satisfy those interests.

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