Rep. Schrader: Pelosi 'has done a good job' as House speaker
Even before the start of the current Congress, U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader said he would not support the return of Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi as the presiding officer of the House.
But the new Democratic majority chose the California Democrat anyway as speaker, the job she held from 2007 until Republicans gained control of the chamber in 2010.
Schrader, who is in his sixth term from Oregon's 5th District, has a different view of Pelosi now.
Schrader remained on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is considered a good assignment. He says Pelosi has kept her word about letting legislation with multiple sponsors from both parties come to a vote in the full House. He says Pelosi has worked with relative moderates from both parties, including himself, to fend off pressures from more assertive liberal Democrats.
"I have told her she has done a good job," Schrader said in a brief interview Aug. 22 after an appearance at a breakfast forum of the Westside Economic Alliance in Tigard. "I am trying not to get carried away. Knock on wood, but it doesn't look too bad right now."
One bill (HR 693) he and a Florida Republican and fellow veterinarian had sought to pass for six years finally won House approval July 25 on a 333-96 vote. It provides for greater federal enforcement and penalties and a ban on incentives for "soring," a practice of intentionally injuring a horse's legs and hooves to exaggerate a horse's leg movements.
"It was always pretty popular. Most people do not like to see animals abused," Schrader said. "But we could never get it to the floor. Under this new rule (when Pelosi became speaker), this bill got an automatic hearing."
Soring was banned under a 1970 law.
Schrader already faces a challenge for renomination in the May 19, 2020, primary from Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba. He easily turned back a primary challenge in 2016 from former state Rep. Dave McTeague of Milwaukie, who last sought office in 1992.
Since Schrader prevailed in a 2010 re-election bid by 5 percentage points, national Republicans have not funded a challenger to him in a district with a slight Democratic registration edge.
During his talk, Schrader said whoever Democrats nominate for president in 2020 must do more than simply oppose President Donald Trump or energize women, minorities and young voters.
"It's about getting more working men and women back on the Democratic side — which means we have to talk about something other than identity politics," he said.
"My opinion is that they are not deplorables — they are good people… They just want to know that we care about them a little bit."
Schrader was careful not to specify anyone he might endorse, in contrast with 2016, when he backed Hillary Clinton, who he faulted for "leaving working men and women behind."
He did get campaign help in 2010 from then-Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke at a fundraiser for him and is the current frontrunner for the 2020 nomination.
Schrader would say only this about the 2020 race:
"There is only one candidate out there who I think comes close to fitting that bill, who has a modicum of trust of those folks and has a storied career that I think speaks for itself, no matter how the rest of the (Democratic) cohort is trying to tear him down. I think he's got the best shot. If we do not nominate or elect him, we will have President Donald Trump for another four years."
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