Washington – Rep. Rosa DeLauro has caused a stir among House Democrats for opposing a bid by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost her legs in a helicopter accident and is bedridden because of an advanced pregnancy, to cast a proxy vote in next week’s leadership elections.
“Congresswoman DeLauro does not want to set a precedent,” said DeLauro spokeswoman Sara Lonardo. “There are many meritorious situations where the argument could be made for a waiver, including Congresswoman Duckworth’s. The question is, how do you choose?”
Proxy voting is not allowed in the Democratic Caucus, according to its rules.
The question whether to grant the request for a waiver from Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, came up in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats Thursday. DeLauro was able to oppose the waiver because of her leadership position as co-chair of the Democratic Steering Committee.
But some have read more into DeLauro’s refusal to allow the waiver, a move that was backed by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
There’s a tight race between Reps. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Anna Eshoo of California for the party’s top seat next session on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Pelosi is backing Eshoo in this fight, and there’s concern Duckworth would vote for Pallone. DeLauro is an ally of Pelosi and is xpected to back Eshoo, too.
The Democratic caucus is allowing three members whose Election Day races have not yet been called to vote in the leadership elections as if they had won reelection already.
DeLauro lost a tight leadership race in 2002 when the rules were bent to allow a Colorado lawmaker whose race had not been called to vote in leadership elections. Former Rep. Bob Menendez , D-N.J., now a senator, prevailed over DeLauro in a bid for Democratic Caucus chairman because of that vote.