In current application, both the White House and the House of Representatives are controlled by the Democratic Party. This has lead to policy objectives such as Healthcare Reform, corporate bailouts, and other areas of economic reform being the primary objective of both President Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) working in tandem to pass legislation whereas Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (R – OH) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R – VA) have worked on diverting said legislation. Practical examples of leadership structures in action can be found on the House’s most recent noteworthy and controversial legislative move, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872). More commonly known by the public as Health Care Reform, the health care debate raged for months before House Democrats moved to vote (after passing in the Senate) with a vote of 219-212. Within this vote, Democrats (most notably those of the Blue Dog Coalition) voted against the party line to create for more problems and strategizing by senior Democratic leadership. The organizing and tallying of votes before the vote went to the floor fell on Democratic whips wherein the strategy of amending certain aspects and clarifying more controversial aspects (such as taxpayer funded abortions) was laid out so as to insure the vote before it went to the March 21st, 2010 vote. While other processes, such as reconciliation and Executive involvement went into play to officially make this law, the strategy and timing of how the H.R. 4872 was passed in the House is a prime example of House leadership on both sides working towards their respective goals.
While party leadership exists elsewhere, such as in the Senate with their respective whip structures and President Pro-Tempore, leadership in the House of Representatives is a much more diverse and complex aspect of our government. Not only due to the fact that the structures in place are the creation of the House and parties themselves, but that the number of representatives (in comparison to the Senate and other bodies) and diversity of their policy positions irrelevant to their party affiliation makes for a much more interesting and complex area of understanding and study. With the rise of House Speakers to the public forum due to increased media coverage and saturation have helped to shape the modern day House leadership into what it is today. The effect that this leadership has on a legislative body that most average Americans deem as “equals” or “not terribly important” could not be more wrong, and the wielding of this power can easily be seen by the trained eye. While the Democrats currently hold majority, conservative backlash against policymaking, as evident by the election of Scott Brown to the Senate, will create for interesting election results in the coming months and the use of this power by those who will ascend to House leadership in the future will be most interesting, and certainly most influential.