Pelosi, Dem leaders withholding judgment

Emerging from a Capitol Hill meeting with Democratic leaders, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday applauded President Obama for his work on bipartisan legislation to raise the debt ceiling but deferred her judgment on the bill until she meets with the full caucus Monday.

"I have to meet with my caucus tomorrow to see how they wish to proceed," Pelosi said. "We all may not be able to support it, or none of us may be able to support it. But we'll wait and see."

ADVERTISEMENT
Minutes earlier, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the senior Democrat on the Budget Committee, strongly suggested that the Democratic leaders are waiting for House Republicans to play their hand first.

"We're still continuing to look at the details," Van Hollen said. "It's our understanding that there's no sign-off yet by the Republican leadership in the House."

While the leaders weigh their options, some liberal Democrats have already made their intentions clear.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, hammered the emerging agreement on Sunday, saying it abandons the traditional principles of the Democratic Party and "trades people's livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals."

"For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful government – a government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally," Grijalva said in a statement. "This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country."

"I reject it," he said.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), via Twitter, also slammed the emerging details of the package.

"Nada from million/billionaires; corp tax loopholes aplenty; only sacrifice from the poor/middle class? Shared sacrifice, balance? Really?" she tweeted Sunday.

The Democratic criticism puts the bill on shaky ground because GOP leaders – if they endorse the proposal – would almost certainly need Democratic support to counter defections from conservative Republicans who have hinged their support for a debt-limit hike on the passage of a balanced-budget amendment.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave the debt-ceiling package a boost Sunday when he endorsed the bill.

Pelosi said that, because the deal is originating in the Senate, Reid had a head start in gauging his support. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the deal hadn't been finalized.

"We'll have to see, we'll do our side by sides," Pelosi said. "I don't know all of the particulars of what the final product is, in writing, and what the ramifications are of it."

"The details are important," she added.

Pelosi emphasized the importance of hiking the debt ceiling before the Aug. 2 default deadline, but also renewed earlier arguments that the bill can't harm jobs or the middle class.

"But we have to avoid default," she said. "We're going to do so in a way that does not impede our economic recovery, in a way that does not harm America's families by putting in doubt whether they're going to receive their Social Security checks and in a way that does not jeopardize our future."

Several other Democratic leaders participating in the meeting – including Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) – declined to comment as they left Pelosi's office.

-- This story was posted at 6:38 p.m. and has been updated.