House moves to vote on $1.1T package; backup plan in place


The House will take one last shot Thursday night at passing a $1.1 trillion government-funding bill that has set off a feud between House Democrats and the White House.

If the bill fails, the House will move to a three-month funding measure as a fallback. A vote on the smaller measure could take place later on Thursday night.

{mosads}Outraged House Democrats have been left unswayed by a last-ditch White House lobbying push, and dozens say they would vote against the larger spending measure.

Emerging from a closed-door meeting in the Capitol with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, a slew of Democrats said the administration’s message was clear but unpersuasive.

“I don’t think he changed anybody’s mind,” said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.).

Republicans likely need at least 50 Democrats to back the measure to make up for defections in their own party. And it does not appear that many Democrats will back it.

The three-month measure likely has a better shot at passage, and Senate leaders have signaled they could support it.

If Congress doesn’t act by the end of Thursday, large parts of the federal government will shut down.

Democrats are “outraged,” in the words of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), over Obama’s endorsement of a spending package that includes conservative amendments to grant new freedoms to big banks and wealthy campaign donors. 

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) spoke up during the meeting to urge the Democrats to remain united in opposition to the proposal. 

“If I was a lame-duck president in the White House, that’s the case I would make,” DeFazio said. “But if I was a Democrat serving the United States Congress and I was looking at the next election and wanted to get back to the majority, I would not be facilitating a bailout of Wall Street.”

Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), the former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), echoed that message, arguing that the party has to stand up for “core values,” and there’s no better time than now.

“We’ve got to draw a line in the sand,” Israel said.

“The majority of people who got up subsequent to his presentation felt like the trade-offs just were not worth it,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) told reporters. 

The Democrats’ entrenched opposition to Obama marks a turning point in the relations between the president and his allies on Capitol Hill. 

House Democrats have long been agitated with the White House and its outreach efforts, but they’ve largely kept the grumbling behind closed doors and off the record. With the arrival of the “cromnibus” debate — and Obama’s backing of the package — the frustrations have spilled over and the gloves are coming off.

“We’re fighting anybody who is lobbying to tell people to vote for this bill,” Waters, senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said heading into the Thursday night meeting. “If the president is lobbying, we do not like it, and we’re saying to our members, ‘Don’t be intimidated by anybody.’ ”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), rarely a public critic of the president, also minced no words in denouncing the “cromnibus” — and Obama’s support for it.

In a floor speech announcing her opposition to the measure, Pelosi said she is “enormously disappointed” with the administration’s endorsement.

Hours later, giving closing remarks at the Democrats’ caucus meeting, she was not subtle in reminding her members that they have power in the fight.

“I’m giving you the leverage to do whatever you have to do,” Pelosi told her troops, according to a source in the room. “We have enough votes to show them never to do this again.”

Israel, for one, said there’s no way to predict what the night will bring.

“Anybody who tells you that they know how many votes the Republicans have, and how many votes we have, is the last human being on earth that you should be listening to,” he said. 

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