Pelosi on Jane Harman and the House Intelligence Committee

The speaker says Harman didn't get the chairmanship because she already served two terms.

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed theories today about why Rep. Jane Harman wasn't given that House Intelligence Committee chairmanship that's become the focus of so many news reports. "The only reason why Jane is not the chairman is because she already served her two terms. It had nothing to do with her position on Iraq; it had nothing to do with donors; it had nothing to do with eavesdropping, wiretapping; it had nothing to do with anything," Pelosi told reporters today. Harman dipped out of Congress to run for California's governor in 1998. She lost that race. When she won her congressional seat back in 2000, Harman asked to return to the Intelligence Committee at her former seniority level, Pelosi explained. Dick Gephardt, then the minority leader, gave her the green light, and she eventually became ranking member of the committee.

"In her position of seniority, Jane would become the ranking member, which she was, again to the consternation to the other members who thought they were in line for such a thing," Pelosi said. Harman served in this position for two terms. "When we picked up the majority, the idea that Jane would have three terms was inconsistent with the commitment that I had made and the custom that we have and continue to have," Pelosi said. Pelosi did make it clear, however, that Harman wanted the post: "Many, many, many of Jane's friends talked to me about her being named chair of the Intelligence Committee, none of them in any threatening way," said Pelosi.

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