The Eshoo Letter

The Eshoo Letter


The Eshoo letter regarding changes in House seniority, party dues, secret ballots. Last week Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who lost a bitter battle to Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to be the senior Democrat of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has once again re-ignited a conversation regarding the seniority system, party dues, and secret ballots for Democrats in the House.

Eshoo, 72, represents one of the wealthiest congressional districts in the country, which includes Silicon Valley.  She has served in Congress for 22 years.  Currently there is a record number of African Americans in Congress (48) and a record number now serve as ranking members of House Committees and subcommittees.  Below is Rep. Eshoo’s letter to Rep. Bass.



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Lauren Victoria Burke
Twitter: @LVBurke / Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist who analyses politics and justice reform. She created, a blog that covers the work of African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke has also been a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears weekly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin. She has also appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton and Up with Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. She is also a contributing writer for and Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail: Instagram: LVB325.


  1. Anna Eshoo represents Palo Alto, Atherton, and Woodside. Her district contains several dozen Billionaires, most of whom are in high tech. As a result, Anna Eshoo collects a lot more money from her donors than Congress-folk from Newark or Cleveland.

    Her argument basically comes down to “Hey, I am bringing in the money which pays for the Democratic Party, so I should get to be Committee Chairman (or at least Ranking Minority Member)”.

    For the time being, let us not discuss the question of which favors were given in exchange for this money (H1-B visas, tax credits, pharmaceutical patent extensions, foreign tax holidays). Rather, let’s look at the practical effects this proposal would have:

    First of all, these proposed changes would dramatically reduce the number of Black committee chairmen and sub-committee chairmen. This is not Eshoo’s main purpose, of course. You should think of the Black Members of Congress who have put in 20 years and will not become the Chairman as “Collateral Damage”.

    Second, we should think about the future effect on a Congress where each and every Chairmanship is going to be sold the the highest bidder. It seems unlikely that this would reduce the current levels of overt corruption.

    Finally, I must observe that this is not good for America. Changing the rules is such a way as to favor rich people (and their Member) is not going to make this country a better place.