Progressives, centrists in open warfare after House caves on Trump border bill

Tensions between progressive and centrist lawmakers spilled into open view Thursday after House Democratic leaders caved on legislation to provide resources for agencies handling migrants at the southern border, with both sides angrily pointing fingers over who was to blame.

But House Democrats across the spectrum agreed on one thing: They lost their leverage in pursuing stricter health standards for migrant holding facilities when fellow Democrats on the other side of the Capitol effectively sided with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation COVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks MORE (R-Ky.) in voting overwhelmingly for a bipartisan bill providing $4.5 billion in resources for agencies responding to the influx of migrants.

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After members of the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus threatened to tank an attempt by progressives to make changes to the Senate-passed bill, the two factions began trading barbs that included references to child abuse.

"Since when did the Problem Solvers Caucus become the Child Abuse Caucus?" tweeted Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Pelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat MORE (D-Wis.), a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA MORE (D-Wash.), the other CPC co-chair, offered a pejorative nickname of her own.

"The Problem Makers Caucus?" Jayapal said dismissively when The Hill asked about the Problem Solvers Caucus.

Rep. Max RoseMax RoseGun control group rolls out House endorsements Max Rose calls on Trump to use Defense Production Act to ensure small businesses have PPE 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.), a Problem Solvers Caucus member, confronted Pocan over the tweet on the House floor.

"He's just trying to get retweets. That's all he cares about," Rose told reporters.

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Rep. Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewTrump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans NY, NJ lawmakers call for more aid to help fight coronavirus Campaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis MORE (D-N.J.), a Problem Solvers member who represents a swing district, called Pocan’s remark “nonsense” and argued that delaying passage of the border aid amounted to child abuse.

“Child abuse is taking a bill that you know is not going to reach the finish line, is never going to be signed by the president,” Van Drew said.

“What we did was a practical, good move to ensure that kids were going to be taken care of. That bill's going to be signed into law. Those kids within a day are going to start getting some of the relief they need. That's what I call good government. I don't call that child abuse,” he added.

Pocan only doubled down.

"I think if you facilitate taking out the language that takes away the ability to pull a contract from a bad firm that's doing child abuse, I think that's a pretty fair characterization," Pocan told reporters, referring to an amendment sought by House progressives to end government contracts for shelters run by entities that don’t adhere to health standards within six months.

Centrists defended their push to take up the bipartisan Senate bill, pointing to the upper chamber’s 84-8 vote on Wednesday and time running out before lawmakers were set to leave for the July 4 recess.

Congress faced another time crunch: The Trump administration said the Office of Refugee Resettlement will start running out of money by early July.

The House initially passed its own bill on Tuesday, with provisions sought by progressive and Hispanic lawmakers to ensure stricter standards for migrant holding facilities after days of talks with Democratic leaders.

Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerGun control group rolls out House endorsements A quiet, overlooked revolution in congressional power Bipartisan Senate group offers new help to state, local governments MORE (D-N.J.), a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, told Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday morning that he had rallied enough moderate Democrats to prevent the amended House bill from passing.

“There's a political reality that exists in Washington right now where the Senate just passed overwhelmingly — with three-quarters of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate — passed a bipartisan bill to provide border supplemental funding. And I think we have to try to get resources to the border as soon as possible. If you care about those children, then you need to be working to get resources to the border,” said Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyCongress must fill the leadership void Overnight Health Care: Pence press secretary tests positive for coronavirus | Watchdog recommends ousted vaccine expert be temporarily reinstated | Health care industry loses 1.4 million jobs It's time to strengthen protections for government watchdogs in order to protect our taxpayer dollars MORE (D-Fla.), a co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition.

“I don't find that ... doubting people's motivations is the best way to find compromise and bipartisan solutions to very real problems,” Murphy said of Pocan’s tweet.

Frustrated progressives said the real problem behind centrists’ move on Thursday was rooted in Senate Democrats contributing to the overwhelming vote for the GOP-backed bill that's also supported by the White House.

Senate Democrats helped tank the House-passed bill that included provisions meant to respond to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at migrant holding facilities. The House-passed bill failed on the Senate floor, 37-55.

“I blame Senate Democrats, first and foremost, for putting us in this position,” Jayapal said.

“Democrats in the Senate have to hold our leverage. And they did not do that. They did not do that,” she added. “I think Senate Democrats have to wake up and stop voting with Mitch McConnell and allow us to have some leverage so that we can actually use our majority in the House.”

The frustration showed in the vote to pass the Senate bill: While a majority of House Democrats ultimately voted for it, 95 cast votes in opposition. All but seven Republicans voted for the measure.

The Democratic defectors included members of leadership, including Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesGun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' Tara Reade's attorney asks Biden to authorize search of his Senate papers MORE (N.Y.) and Caucus Vice Chairwoman Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkGun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid Democrat says House vote on trillion aid deal could fall to Friday MORE (Mass.).

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse pays tribute to late Congressman Sam Johnson on the floor Barbara Lee: Congress should focus on eliminating poverty House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA MORE (D-Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) voted for the legislation.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineTrump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting House Democrat to introduce bill cracking down on ad targeting MORE (D-R.I.), who leads House Democrats’ messaging arm, said Senate Democratic support for the upper chamber’s version handed Republicans a talking point. He voted against the Senate bill on Thursday.

“You heard how often our Republican colleagues invoked the vote out of the Senate. I think it obviously significantly undermined our leverage and our ability to keep these important protections in the bill. It certainly made our job harder,” Cicilline said.

Mike Lillis, Scott Wong and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.