DCCC threatens funding of Democrats who oppose $3.5T spending bill

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Earlier this week, we discussed the trouble that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was having in herding the Democrat cats in the house all into the same corral in terms of supporting Joe Biden’s spending agenda. She’s been pulled in two directions lately by her own members. One is a group of more centrist members of her caucus (well… “centrist” by 2021 Democratic Party standards, anyway) who want to vote on the one trillion-dollar infrastructure bill before taking any action on the $3.5 trillion behemoth spending bill that’s still hung up in the Senate. The other is a group from the House Progressive Caucus who want to pass both bills at the same time.

Pelosi’s solution was to offer a compromise where they would simultaneously vote to move both bills forward, knowing that no real progress could be made yet on the spending bill, while the infrastructure bill headed for Joe Biden’s desk. But now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has weighed in and it’s pretty clear which side they’re taking. Some of the centrist Democrats are saying that the DCCC has been putting pressure on them and suggesting that they could be cut off from campaign funds next year if they don’t agree to move the big spending bill forward. (Politico)

House Democratic leaders have been working aggressively this week to flip a group of nearly a dozen members who have threatened to buck their party on a key budget vote next week, a vote that represents the first step toward passing President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion dollar domestic spending plan. Instead, they’re demanding to first vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill.

That pressure campaign has included Democratic Congressional Campaign Chair Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who has phoned members in recent days to warn that their majority is in jeopardy if they derail Biden’s broader spending priorities.

But some of those centrists who received calls from either Maloney or his staff — who already face some of the toughest races in the country next November — said they also took his comments to mean that their own fundraising help from the party would be at risk.

To be clear, almost all of this reporting is based on anonymous sources, so take that as you will. Also, the sources pointed out that there was no direct, specific threat to cut the members off from DCCC campaign funds, but they said it was heavily implied.

You can probably picture how those conversations allegedly went. ‘Nice midterm campaign you’ve got set up there. Be a real shame if anything happened to it.’

The problem here is that most of the Democrats coming under fire are from purple districts and they are some of the most vulnerable ones in the midterms. If they veer too far to the left, that’s probably going to hurt most of them at home. And currently, the Democrats’ margin in the house is down to nearly nothing. If the DCCC and the Progressive Caucus want to force them up against the wall, they may wind up forcing them out of the House and sinking their own party back into the minority.

So Pelosi still seems to be left with the same unappetizing options that she’s been dealing with for the past several weeks. Keep pushing to drive through as much of Biden’s spending agenda as she can and risk losing the gavel after one term, or settle for less and try to keep the majority at least until 2024. But as I’ve pointed out previously, the new wind blowing through the Democratic Party in Congress has been primarily characterized by an attitude of “my way or the highway.” And when they’re faced with the option of taking half a loaf or none, many of them would prefer to starve.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard stories about the congressional campaign committees from both parties trying to apply pressure to members who aren’t going along with the party’s program. But such things usually happen in back rooms and away from the eyes of the voters. The fact that this is spilling out into public this way suggests that there really is a significant civil war brewing among the Democrats. Break out the popcorn.

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David Strom 2:40 PM | February 20, 2024