Notes from the opening ceremonies at the Capitol as House Speaker Davy Carter begins his high-wire act as a pragmatic Republican leading a right-wing GOP insurgency at the same time he owes his election to the Democratic caucus:
The big news — the only news — was his selection of committee chairmen. I thought he had two largely symbolic appointments of service to each constituency:
–His kinder, gentler appointment was of Darrin Williams of Little Rock, who would have made history as the state’s first African-American House speaker if the Democrats had won another seat, or two, as his speaker pro tem. This is a ceremonial second-in-command meaning not much. If Carter had wanted to deploy Williams substantively, he could have retained him as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. But he might have stopped some right-wing stuff there.
–Carter’s in-your-face appointment was of the pugnacious right-winger, John Burris of Harrison, who’s over there on the extreme with Tom Cotton, as chairman of Public Health, where some Medicaid expansion matters might go. But, as Carter reminded reporters after, that committee is 11-9 Democratic.
Meantime, Carter’s naming of Charlie Collins of Fayetteville, my tax-cut debating foe, as chairman of Revenue and Tax has me already calculating my income tax reduction for 2014.
I talk about all this with Roby Brock on a webcast that will download at 4:30 p.m. at talkbusiness.net.