Pelosi will not whip Democrats against budget vote

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday reiterated her opposition to a sweeping two-year budget deal expected to hit the floor later in the day, but said she won’t be pushing rank-and-file Democrats to join her in voting against it.

“I’m just telling people why I’m voting the way I’m voting,” she told reporters in the Capitol, just hours before federal funding expires.

The decision not to whip against the package is sure to infuriate some immigrant rights advocates, including those in her own caucus.

{mosads}Critics have accused Pelosi and other Democratic leaders of failing to maximize their leverage in recent budget fights for the sake of securing legal protections for the “Dreamers,” young immigrants brought to the country illegally as kids.

Pelosi churned countless headlines on Wednesday when she seized the House floor for more than eight hours in a one-woman protest against the Republicans’ inaction on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump is ending on March 5.

She vowed to oppose the budget package unless Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) guaranteed a DACA vote in the House, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has done in the upper chamber.

But Pelosi’s critics have charged that, without following the speech with a strong whip effort against the budget deal, her feat of endurance amounts to little more than empty theater.

“I’m thankful to her for giving that speech; I applaud her for giving the speech, and now tomorrow I want her to use the same kind of tenacity and muscle and perseverance to stop the Democrats from folding,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said Wednesday evening.

“Because what you have is collusion … between a group of Democrats and Donald Trump that will lead to the deportation of Dreamers.”

Pelosi helped negotiate the bipartisan budget package, which would prevent an imminent government shutdown and dictate federal spending over the next two years. Included are a host of provisions favored by the Democrats, including a bump in funding for efforts to combat the opioid crisis, veterans health care, emergency disaster relief and a popular children’s health care program.

Pelosi described it as “a good bill” — but one she can’t support because it lacks an accompanying commitment from Ryan to vote to preserve DACA.

“I fought very hard for many of the things that are in there, and I think it’s a good bill. … It’s unfortunate that it’s taking place in an insulting way for those of us who are trying to protect the values of our country,” she said.

“I’m pleased with the product; I’m not pleased with the process.”

Pelosi amplified her calls for Ryan to stage an immediate vote to protect the Dreamers, urging the Speaker to bring any and all competing proposals to the floor and let the most popular bill advance — a contest known in Congress as the “queen of the hill.”

“Bring everything to the floor,” Pelosi said. “Let everybody vote for what they believe.”

Ryan, playing hardball, has promised no such vote, saying that he won’t consider any DACA bill that lacks Trump’s support.

Both chambers are expected to vote on the budget package Thursday, just hours before the current short-term spending patch expires. The Senate, moving first, is expected to pass the measure easily, while the House vote — facing opposition from members on both sides of the aisle — is less certain.

Still, Ryan said Thursday morning that he’s confident the bill will clear the lower chamber.

“I feel good,” he told the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

“Part of it depends on the Democrats. This is a bipartisan bill. It’s going to need bipartisan support.”

The budget agreement would extend government spending through March 23, allowing appropriators to work on a longer-term omnibus package through the remainder of the fiscal year.

If Congress fails to pass another patch by the end of Thursday, large parts of the government would begin to shutter at midnight.

Tags Bipartisan Budget Act deferred action for childhood arrivals Donald Trump Immigration Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi Paul Ryan Paul Ryan Shutdown

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