On Thursday, in advance of a Friday meeting with the president at the White House, Pelosi lit into Obama’s budget director, Jack Lew, in what is becoming a habit of sending sharp messages through his top aides. Pelosi sought to impress on Lew — and no doubt his bosses at the White House — that House Democrats expect to be consulted more now than on past deals and that the president can’t expect to win passage of a debt limit package without support from House Democrats.
“Don’t insult us,” she said as Lew tried to explain why House Democrats were cut out of the budget bill discussion earlier this year, according to one source who was in the room. “You guys don’t know how to count.” It was a replay of a similar jab Pelosi took at White House economic adviser Gene Sperling during a similar meeting before the budget bill deal was reached.
But while House Democrats’ nerves remain raw, they’re in a much better position now to flex their muscles. And Pelosi, once treated as irrelevant by Obama and Republican leaders in Congress, might just have the necessary clout to put a debt limit deal over the finish line.
It’s not even necessary for Pelosi to vote for a debt deal, it may be enough for her to simply release members of her caucus to make sure it goes through.