On the heels of a recent conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admonished reporters over rumors that Democrats are in a state of disarray, attempting to refute claims of division within the party before abruptly storming off.
“You guys have it all wrong,” Pelosi, now widely seen as solely holding the reigns of the Democratic Party, asserted, clearly furious at the question of the party’s unity.
“We have such a unified caucus,” said Pelosi, “But if it serves your purpose to say we’re seething, you’re on the wrong track.”
A visibly frustrated Pelosi chided the press, “you can waste your time on that, while we go forward with what we are going to do for the American people,” adding, “Good morning,” before ending the interview.
With the 2020 election drawing nearer, Democrats are left with the insurmountable task of choosing a candidate to appeal to their ever-changing constituency.
From The Hill:
Defiant Democrats are rallying from an embarrassing internal fight over government spending, with all factions now vowing to bridge differences across the broad ideological spectrum that marks the caucus.
The kumbaya assurances will soon be put to the test, as Democrats are heading quickly into high-stakes debates on health care, climate change and immigration — complex issues certain to tax the resolve of party leaders striving to maintain a united front within a highly diverse caucus.
Gathering for their annual issues conference in Northern Virginia, spirited Democrats challenged the media, with lawmakers of all stripes joining party leaders in bucking recent news reports portraying a caucus at war.
“You guys have it all wrong,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scolded reporters. “We have such a unified caucus. But if it serves your purpose to say we’re seething, you’re on the wrong track. But you can waste your time on that while we go forward with what we are going to do for the American people.”
“Good morning,” the Speaker sternly added before walking out of the room.
Shortly before their three-day event, which ended Friday, Democratic leaders were forced to delay a vote on a two-year budget deal in the face of a liberal outcry over proposed spending levels — an awkward start to a retreat designed to highlight party unity 100 days into their new majority.
But just a day after the postponed vote, outside of the Washington glare, those same progressive leaders were downplaying any divisions, saying their strategy was designed simply to send a message that they want more input in the formation of big-ticket legislation. The ability of Democrats to pass a spending package, they said, won’t be affected one bit.
“It kind of means nothing,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) who led opposition to the spending package. “Generally, September is when this kind of stuff happens. Our leadership was just trying to do it a little bit early, but obviously they didn’t do it with full-enough consultation.”
Added Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the other CPC co-chair: “We made it very clear that the Progressive Caucus has to be consulted.”
“Our diversity is our strength. Our unity is our power,” said Pelosi, tapping a favorite phrase.
But if the retreat was designed to promote unity, it also accentuated some of the underlying divisions facing the Democrats’ new majority.
Different factions of the party, for instance, are clashing over legislation to raise the minimum wage. While all sides agree the rate needs an increase, liberals are championing a proposal for a floor of $15 per hour nationwide.
“It shouldn’t matter where you live,” Pocan said.
While that proposal has more than 200 co-sponsors, it’s facing resistance from Democratic centrists who are pushing an alternative bill, sponsored by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), which allows for more regional flexibility. Under her measure, the minimum wage in Tuscaloosa would rise to just $11.50 per hour by 2024.
“My approach is just an acknowledgment that where you live the cost of living may be different,” Sewell said. “I am obviously willing to sit down at the table and talk about it, because we’re all committed to increasing the minimum wage.”
If there was any theme to the Democrats’ conference, it was that pledge from all sides to iron out their differences. Many rejected the notion that the conflicts are significant at all.