Nancy Pelosi spoke for eight hours yesterday — and even some of her own colleagues don’t quite know why. She took advantage of a rarely used privilege which allows House caucus leaders to hold the floor indefinitely. Pelosi insisted that she would keep talking until Paul Ryan agreed to schedule a vote on a DACA compromise and would block any attempt to pass a budget until he did.
That sounded great … right up until her negotiating partner Chuck Schumer announced a budget deal without linkage to the “dreamers” issue in the middle of her filibuster. Now Pelosi’s colleagues wonder whether she intended to move the issue at all, or whether she was covering her behind after selling them out:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor Wednesday for a record-breaking eight hours, vowing to speak — and stand — until Republicans concede protections for so-called Dreamers.
But for some members on both ends of her caucus who tuned in, the daylong protest did little to repair the fissure pitting lawmakers against one another on immigration and budget talks. …
In interviews will nearly a dozen House Democrats, many who requested anonymity to speak candidly, several called the speech an attempt by Pelosi to shore up support with the progressive base angry by congressional inaction on Dreamers. By agreeing to the spending caps deal, Gutiérrez and others argued, Democrats gave up all their leverage to force Republicans into serious negotiations to shield Dreamers from deportation.
Count Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) among the unimpressed. The longtime amnesty activist, who has already announced his retirement at the end of this term, scoffed at Pelosi’s stunt. “There’s all kinds of ways, I assure you,” he told Politico’s Heather Caygle, “that leadership exercises its influence — the least of which is a floor speech.”
Others who remained anonymous were more direct about their frustration. Rather than make it easier to vote for the budget deal — which Pelosi negotiated — she’s left her caucus twisting in the wind and vulnerable to attack from the progressive Left:
“This stunt … had nothing to do with protecting vulnerable members who have to take a difficult vote,” said one moderate lawmaker who asked not to be named. “Working out this deal and then saying she’s not going to vote for it? Come on. She was at the table.”
Indeed it doesn’t. Chuck Schumer’s self-congratulatory statement on the Senate floor yesterday included a shot at Donald Trump, saying no one wanted a shutdown except the president. If Pelosi’s stunt forces centrists to cover their political backsides and the budget deal fails for lack of Democratic support, suddenly Schumer and his very vulnerable colleagues in red states will get hammered over yet another shutdown on behalf of illegal immigrants. That shutdown — like the last one — would be entirely on the Democrats, and all the more so because of the naked hypocrisy of Pelosi in insisting on opposing a deal that she herself helped craft and to which she apparently agreed.
Not that there’s much chance for failure, as it turns out. Business Insider’s Joe Perticone reports that Pelosi and her team aren’t whipping against the budget vote despite her rhetoric yesterday. Gutierrez isn’t happy — again:
But Pelosi’s marathon floor speech was not accompanied by a vigorous whipping campaign to unite Democrats against the bipartisan compromise that Senate leaders, the White House, and House Speaker Paul Ryan have coalesced around to keep the government open beyond the deadline at the end of Thursday.
“I think the fact that you have not heard from the Democratic Party, the Democratic caucus, from Democratic Party offices, you would think that there’d be hashtags galore supporting this effort — this unprecedented effort from Nancy Pelosi,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez told reporters. “But it’s not a coordinated effort, is it? So it makes me fearful that tomorrow the reason there isn’t a coordinated effort is that nobody wants to show their hand.”
In other words, Pelosi wanted to make herself look good for the cameras at the expense of her caucus … and that’s about it. Whose fault is that? Look no further than the caucus itself, which has inexplicably kept Pelosi in power after four straight election disappointments. Supposedly, the fifth time will be the charm, but perhaps House Democrats should consider giving Pelosi the heave-ho to get a chance to avoid the fifth straight debacle.