Democratic Lawmaker Has Tough Task of Helping Avoid Another Shutdown

Editor’s note:  Last Friday Morning we had the opportunity to speak with Congresswoman Lowey on a conference call.  A story was being prepared about the shutdown however before it could be published, the shutdown ended temporarily.  During that call we specifically asked how far apart the two sides were; Congresswoman Lowey told us that she worked well with Republican Senator Shelby and that if given the chance, she felt that the two of them could negotiate a deal in a week.  We don’t always agree with Congresswoman Lowey’s positions however, we have a great deal of respect for her and in our opinion, if anyone can negotiate a great deal, our Congresswoman, Nita Lowey can get the job done.

Rep. Nita Lowey has two weeks to cajole legislators into a spending deal that Trump would sign

 

By Natalie Andrews and Kristina Peterson THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Feb. 1, 2019 7:00 a.m. ET

 

New York Rep. Nita Lowey has two weeks to cajole and prod 16 other lawmakers from both parties and congressional chambers into agreeing to a spending deal that could avoid another partial government shutdown.

A 16-term House lawmaker, Mrs. Lowey has led Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee since 2013. The 81-year-old took the gavel in January, the first woman to chair the panel.

Standing at 5 feet 1 inch, she often greets lawmakers with a hug or a pat on the shoulder—even Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who towers over her at 6 feet 4 inches. Yet her warm manner shouldn’t be misread, say lawmakers used to working with her.

“Don’t underestimate her, she’s tough,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.), a veteran member of the Appropriations panel, describing Mrs. Lowey.  “I’ve dealt with her quite a bit, and you can count on what she tells you is true.”

When the bicameral and bipartisan group of appropriators tasked with finding a deal on border security that President Trump would have to sign into law met for the first time on Wednesday, Mrs. Lowey opened by saying that “everything is on the table” in terms of negotiating. She also allowed any member who wanted to make remarks to do so.

The Democratic lawmakers’ opening offer was far from Republican demands, including zero money for a border wall. Mr. Shelby is advocating with the White House for a barrier on the border that Mr. Trump insists requires $5.7 billion in funding. But Democrats have said border a wall is ineffective and expensive, a standoff that triggered the five-week shutdown that ended last week.

If both chambers don’t reach a deal that Mr. Trump will sign before Feb. 15, that could lead to another shutdown.

Despite the yawning gap between their opening positions, both Republicans and Democrats expressed optimism that a deal can be reached, and point to Mrs. Lowey as part of that.

“If she is left to deal with issues, she will solve them,” Mr. Diaz-Balart said. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) said Mrs. Lowey “sets the tone for whatever happens.” He has seen her find agreements on tricky spending disputes in the past, and “I see no difference in her approach this time.”

An ally of House Democratic leaders, Mrs. Lowey frequently talks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). Both women came into Congress when there were just a handful of women in the House chamber, and both served on the Appropriations panel together.

The two, along with Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, were together so often in the 1990s they were dubbed “DeLoSi,” an aide said. Now, the women swap stories of their grandchildren on the House floor, in between more serious discussions, a former Lowey aide said.

First elected to Congress in 1988, Mrs. Lowey has represented the northern suburbs of New York City. In 2000, she considered running for Senate but stepped aside as then-first lady Hillary Clinton announced her bid.

After acquiescing, Mrs. Lowey was selected as the first woman to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2002 election cycle, when Republicans gained control of the Senate and expanded their majority in the House in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. When Mrs. Clinton left the Senate, and the seat re-opened, Mrs. Lowey was a senior appropriator and decided to stay in the House.

Despite being a minority member on the committee, Mrs. Lowey often prevented Republicans in the majority from blocking all funds that go to women’s health centers that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. As the GOP majority in the House grew, Mrs. Lowey worked with allies in the Senate to protect the groups’ reimbursements for health services outside of abortion, including birth control and mammograms. Federal law prevents funding for almost all abortions under the so-called Hyde Amendment.

In August 2004, President Bush signed Mrs. Lowey’s legislation that requires food packaging to clearly list whether it contains the top eight ingredients that cause allergic reactions. She has pushed for anti-drunk-driving initiatives and was key in passing legislation that required states to have a maximum blood-alcohol content level of 0.08% as a condition of receiving federal transportation assistance, leading to all 50 states adopting such a policy.

Mrs. Lowey on Wednesday said she wasn’t intimidated by Mr. Trump’s tweets, including one this week that accused the committee of wasting its time if they don’t include billions for building his wall or barrier on the border with Mexico.

“I raised three children. I now have eight grandchildren, and I think it’s best dealing with them with facts and figures, rather than threats,” Mrs. Lowey told reporters. The White House declined to respond.


About The Author

Related posts