Politico, February 28, 2019
House Democrats held an emotional debate behind closed doors Thursday over how to stop losing embarrassing procedural battles with Republicans — a clash that exposed the divide between moderates and progressives.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took a hard line at the caucus meeting, saying that being a member of Congress sometimes requires taking tough votes.
“This is not a day at the beach. This is the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi said, according to two sources.
Pelosi also said vulnerable Democrats who had the “courage” to vote against the Republican motions to recommit would become a higher priority for the party leadership and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the superstar New York freshman lawmaker, suggested she would alert progressive activists when Democrats are voting with the GOP on these motions, said the sources.
In the end, Pelosi and other top Democrats didn’t agree to any rules change and will continue to study the issue. The motion to recommit offers the House minority one last shot at changing legislation before it receives a final floor vote. Typically, the motion is used to try to squeeze the majority party, but it rarely succeeds.
Democratic leaders have vowed to do a better job preparing for the Republican motions, but the controversy has divided Pelosi and her longtime lieutenants, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Pelosi argues that Democrats must stick together on procedural votes, which is the traditional view of party leaders on both sides of the aisle. Hoyer and Clyburn, however, have suggested that moderate members can vote with Republicans if they think it will improve their political standing.
Republicans have already won two motions to recommit this Congress, including a Wednesday vote that angered Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives. In contrast, Republicans stuck together and never lost a single such motion when they controlled the House from 2011 to 2019.
The latest defeat came on Wednesday, as the House debated legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales — a position overwhelmingly favored by Democrats. When Republicans moved to amend the bill to require Immigration and Customs Enforcement be told of any undocumented immigrant who tries to buy a gun, 26 Democrats voted with the GOP. The language was added to the gun bill, spoiling an important Democratic legislative achievement.
An earlier GOP motion condemning anti-Semitism was successfully attached to a House resolution barring U.S. involvement in the Yemeni civil war. That maneuver, which was backed by every Democrat, later caused parliamentary problems in the Senate and upended Democratic attempts to challenge President Donald Trump's foreign policy.
During the closed-door meeting on Thursday, Pelosi said Democrats who vote for the Republicans’ motions are putting pressure on other vulnerable colleagues who would prefer to stick with the party. ...
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