As of this writing, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is in the eighth hour of a speech in defense of Dreamers. It may already be the longest House speech in history. Early in the address, during which she’s read letter after letter from Dreamers, Pelosi stated her position: That without a commitment from Speaker Paul Ryan to set up neutral floor time for consideration of a bill to protect Dreamers, the budget agreement reached by Senate negotiators on Wednesday “does not have my support.”
Well, Ryan will be able to pass the budget agreement without Pelosi’s one vote. The question is whether Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership will try to hold the caucus in opposition to the budget agreement in order to secure that commitment, or whether enough Democrats will support the agreement to put it over the top. One way to look at Pelosi’s “filibuster”—let us note that this monologue is not interrupting any scheduled House floor business—is that it’s the beginning of a push from a unified Democratic caucus to extract concessions from Ryan on Dreamers. Another way to look at it is as a ploy to demonstrate Pelosi’s commitment to the issue that saves some face, both among the base and angry members of her caucus, before the budget bill passes with a mixture of Republican and Democratic votes.