By Mike Lillis - 04/14/11 07:47 PM EDT
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she feels no ownership
for the spending deal the House approved Thursday.
Pelosi took pains Thursday to distance herself from the bipartisan 2011 spending deal, which many House Democrats think goes too far in imposing spending cuts on health, education and nutrition programs.
“It was pretty evident the House Democrats were not a part of that agreement,” Pelosi said at a press conference in the Capitol ahead of the vote. “I feel no ownership of that or any responsibility to it — except that we don't want to shut down the government.”
The California liberal noted the “unease” many Democrats feel about the almost $40 billion in cuts included in the proposal, but she also left room to support the measure if Republicans can't summon the votes to prevent a government shutdown.
“I have always thought that if he [the House Speaker] didn't have enough votes, if he didn't get 218 on his own, that there would be Democrats who could help put it over the top,” Pelosi said. “It's a question of how big that disparity is.”
“It is very important to keep government open,” she added. “We all support that.”
Still, Pelosi was also quick to emphasize ahead of the vote that Democratic leaders in the House had no intention of whipping rank-and-file members into supporting it.
“We have not whipped it, we have not encouraged one way or the other,” Pelosi said. “People are just making their own judgment about it.”
As details of the agreement were released this week, a number of conservative Republicans have balked at the almost $40 billion in cuts included in the proposal. Pressured by Tea Party groups, some are threatening to vote against the deal even as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is trying to play up the cuts as the most significant in decades.
Pelosi implied that Republicans came out on top during the negotiations.
“The fact that many of us [Democrats] have our unease of what is in there should signal to the Republicans that they should probably feel pretty comfortable with the bill,” Pelosi said.
If the measure passes the House Thursday, the Senate is expected to take it up later in the day.
This story was initially published at 11:48 a.m.