Democrats Doubt Republicans Will Change Their Spots

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) speaks during a news conference January 16, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. House Democrats held a news conference to announce new legislation to eliminate the federal debt ceiling.
National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
Elahe Izad
Dec. 12, 2013, 2:46 p.m.

Some gasped when House Speak­er John Boehner dressed down con­ser­vat­ive groups this week as hav­ing “lost all cred­ib­il­ity.” But Demo­crats were skep­tic­al that Boehner’s com­ments — and his will­ing­ness to al­low a quick vote on a budget deal that out­side groups hate — rep­res­ent a turn­ing point for Re­pub­lic­ans.

Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gress­ive Caucus Co­chair Keith El­lis­on, D-Minn., said Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship push­ing back against out­side con­ser­vat­ive groups is “a pos­it­ive sign, but I don’t think it’s any­thing more than a mo­ment­ary sign.”

“That’s be­cause these far-right groups are not go­ing to quit,” El­lis­on said. “They’re go­ing to re­cal­cu­late and come back at it ASAP, and one nev­er knows what these Re­pub­lic­ans in this Con­gress are go­ing to do the next time a big is­sue comes up. We’ve got the debt ceil­ing com­ing up.”

Demo­crats are cer­tainly pleased that they didn’t see Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship giv­ing in to pres­sure from out­side groups on the budget deal, but by and large, they don’t view how the budget deal came to­geth­er as the dawn of a brand-new day.

“I was en­cour­aged by what [Boehner] had to say, and we’ll see what hap­pens today,” House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi said be­fore the budget deal hit the House floor for a vote. As for wheth­er a new spir­it of bi­par­tis­an­ship is sweep­ing the Cap­it­ol, Pelosi said, “I don’t think it’s a one-off, and I don’t think it’s a turn­ing point.”

Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, the No. 3 Demo­crat in the Sen­ate, soun­ded the most op­tim­ist­ic that the budget deal rep­res­en­ted something lar­ger. He cited pas­sage of com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form, the farm bill, and oth­er le­gis­la­tion in the Sen­ate with a num­ber of Re­pub­lic­an sup­port­ers as a good sign, and he de­pic­ted bi­par­tis­an­ship as something akin to a vir­us that he hopes will spread through both cham­bers.

“The House has al­ways been the block, and now the House seems to be catch­ing the let’s-get-it-done fever that has in­fec­ted a good num­ber of Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans for the bet­ter,” Schu­mer said. “I hope that it’s a con­di­tion that re­mains with them for many, many months to come.”

The debt ceil­ing, which will have to be re­newed next year, will be an early test as to wheth­er a con­sid­er­able block of Re­pub­lic­ans will re­buke pres­sure from out­side con­ser­vat­ive groups, said House Budget Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Chris Van Hol­len of Mary­land. Many of his fel­low Demo­crats are ask­ing them­selves wheth­er the in­flu­ence of such groups has waned enough to al­low ba­sic budget­ary bills to get through without a fight.

“If our Re­pub­lic­an col­leagues go home and they don’t get a lot of push­back, maybe that will en­cour­age them to co­oper­ate more on oth­er is­sues. I will only be­lieve it when I see it,” Van Hol­len said. “I don’t see any evid­ence that they’re go­ing to stop their knee-jerk al­le­gi­ance to Grover Nor­quist’s plan. I don’t see that.”

Con­ser­vat­ive group Her­it­age Ac­tion an­nounced its op­pos­i­tion to the budget deal be­fore it was form­ally an­nounced — and un­sur­pris­ingly key-voted it a “no.”

Liber­tari­an-aligned Cato In­sti­tute is op­posed, and Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity called the deal not just “bad policy, it is bad polit­ics.”

Demo­crats, and par­tic­u­larly pro­gress­ives, aren’t thrilled with the fi­nal budget deal either, which helps ex­plain their lack of ela­tion over the Re­pub­lic­an polit­ics of it. The deal lacks an ex­ten­sion of long-term un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance, asks fed­er­al em­ploy­ees to pay in more to their pen­sions, and lacks oth­er Demo­crat­ic pri­or­it­ies. Left-lean­ing Demo­cracy for Amer­ica re­ferred to it not as a com­prom­ise, but as “a sel­lout.”

And both sides pre­dict this Con­gress will con­tin­ue with the same polit­ics as usu­al for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Rep. Tim Huel­skamp, R-Kan., a tea-party-aligned mem­ber of­ten seen as a thorn in lead­er­ship’s side, said out­side groups, wheth­er lib­er­al or con­ser­vat­ive, should have con­sid­er­able in­flu­ence on Cap­it­ol Hill. And he sees re­per­cus­sions down the road for think­ing oth­er­wise.

“When those con­ser­vat­ive groups say there’s a prob­lem in Wash­ing­ton, they get tens of thou­sands of people to call in. It’s not fake,” he said. “For any Re­pub­lic­an to try and ig­nore them is dan­ger­ous to them elect­or­ally. That doesn’t both­er the speak­er — I think he’s go­ing to re­tire. But for plenty of oth­ers? They’re look­ing over their shoulders, be­cause these are ef­fect­ive groups.”

What We're Following See More »
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
BUSINESSES CAN’T PLEAD FIFTH
Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."

SAYS THEY CHEATED TESTS
Government Sues Fiat Chrysler Over Emissions
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

The government alleges the company put eight “software-based features” on diesel engines in nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years, which allowed the vehicles to emit fewer pollutants during EPA lab tests than during normal driving conditions.

Source:
KEY ON TRUMPCARE
MacArthur Resigns As Tuesday Group Co-Chair
7 hours ago
BREAKING

Rep. Tom MacArthur resigned Tuesday from his position as co-chair of the Tuesday Group, the House caucus of more moderate GOP members. MacArthur was one of the key engineers in getting an Obamacare replacement plan passed through the House of Representatives, which has caused a rift within the Tuesday Group. "You can't lead people where they don't want to go," MacArthur told POLITICO New Jersey. "I think some people in the group just have a different view of what governing is."

Source:
COULD RUN AFOUL OF LAW
Trump Wants to Sell Half of Strategic Oil Reserve
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

The budget proposal would raise $500 million in fiscal year 2018 and as much as $16.6 billion in oil sales over the next decade. However, selling half of the reserve would risk taking it below the legally required minimum of 450 million barrels.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login