Pelosi scolds Democrats for public barbs

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries On The Money: Biden issues targeted eviction moratorium | GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) and Democratic leaders on Wednesday scolded Democrats for publicly taking shots at each other and pleaded for unity as they head into key debates in the coming weeks.

“You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK,” Pelosi told Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday, according to a source in the room.

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Pelosi warned that Democratic infighting plays into GOP hands and defended the moderates in the caucus.

“I’m here to help the children when it’s easy and when it’s hard. Some of you are here to make a beautiful pâté but we’re making sausage most of the time,” Pelosi said. “Without that unity, we are playing completely into the hands of the other people.”

Pelosi also forcefully defended the centrists in the caucus and said it’s better for Democrats to criticize her than attack the most vulnerable members publicly.

“I hope there will be some level of respect and sensitivity for our — each individual experience that we bring to this Caucus,” Pelosi said. “You make me the target, but don’t make our Blue Dogs and our New Dems the target in all of this because we have important fish to fry,” Pelosi said.

"It was a very stern and forceful speech," said a senior Democratic aide in the room. 

Pelosi also told the assembled Democrats that if they, or a member of their staff, had thoughts to attack another lawmaker on social media they should "think twice," according to the senior aide.

"Actually, don't think twice; think once," Pelosi said.

"That was a very poignant moment in there," the senior aide said. 

Before the July 4 recess, Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Overnight Defense: 6B Pentagon spending bill advances | Navy secretary nominee glides through hearing | Obstacles mount in Capitol security funding fight House panel advances 6B Pentagon bill on party-line vote MORE (D-Wis.), a co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, tweeted that the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus had become the “Child Abuse Caucus” for their support of the Senate’s version of the border-aid package. Progressives had been pushing for more stringent standards for migrant children in government custody.

The first test of House Democratic unity will be effort to pass an annual defense policy bill this week. 

Wednesday’s meeting was the first caucuswide huddle since tensions spilled over before the July 4 recess between liberals and centrists over legislation to provide funding to agencies handling the flow of migrants at the southern border.

Many liberals were furious that Pelosi had accepted a Senate-passed version of the border bill, rather than fighting harder for the House package, which included more protections for the migrants being held in border detention centers. 

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Pelosi further irritated four prominent liberal freshmen — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength On The Money: Biden issues targeted eviction moratorium | GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal MORE (N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi Tlaib'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Press: Inmates have taken over the asylum The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan Omar'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Press: Inmates have taken over the asylum Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban MORE (Minn.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna Pressley'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Press: Inmates have taken over the asylum Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban MORE (Mass.), known as the “squad” — when she downplayed their impact in a New York Times column over the weekend by noting they were the only ones to vote against a House-passed version of a spending bill for agencies at the border.

Much of Wednesday’s conference meeting focused on leadership’s push for Democrats to get behind the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Progressives believe the $733 billion price tag is too high and are still bitter over being rolled by the Senate in the border bill talks two weeks ago.

In addition to Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerYellen tries to tamp down Democrats fury over evictions ban House bundling is bad for deliberation CBC presses Biden to extend eviction moratorium MORE (D-Md.) urged Democrats to stay unified.

“He said, come to me, criticize me in person. But let's be unified when we're dealing with McConnell. The real obstacle, which I agree with, is Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Florida becomes epicenter of COVID-19 surge | NYC to require vaccination for indoor activities | Biden rebukes GOP governors for barring mask mandates McConnell warns Schumer cutting off debate quickly could stall infrastructure deal Top House Democrat says party would lose elections if they were held today: report MORE. Our fire should be directed at him,” said progressive Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Overnight Energy: Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes | Biden EPA to reconsider Trump rollback on power plant pollution in 2022 | How climate change and human beings influence wildfires Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes MORE (D-Calif.). 

Leaving the meeting, Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDemocrats look to flip script on GOP 'defund the police' attacks Democrats hit crunch time in Biden spending fight Republican immigration proposal falls flat MORE (D-Ky.), a de facto member of leadership as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Hoyer emphasized that intraparty squabbles should be kept out of the public square. 

“Steny gave a very impassioned unity talk just a few minutes ago, talking about how important everybody is to getting our agenda done [and] that if we have problems with each other we ought to address each other and not go outside,” Yarmuth said. 

Asked if Hoyer’s message was directed at Pelosi, Yarmuth chuckled. 

“It was directed at everyone,” he said. “They know who they are.”

Huddling with reporters after the caucus meeting, Hoyer insisted the party will be unified heading into the NDAA vote this week. But he also acknowledged the publicly aired grievances between some members — and urged them to stop.

“There were some strong feelings; people are very, very upset with the humanitarian abuses that are occurring at the border that every American ought to be ashamed of. So there were some strong feelings, and they were manifested,” Hoyer said. “But there was no doubt that bill was going to pass.” 

Omar defended herself and her allies and said lawmakers should vote as they see fit.

“Our job isn't to make sure that we have our colleagues voting a certain way,” Omar told reporters. “I hope that leadership understands their role and understands what our role is.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesThe Memo: Disgraced Cuomo clings to power De Blasio blasts Cuomo over investigation: He should resign or be impeached Entire NY Democratic congressional delegation now calling for Cuomo's resignation MORE (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, tried to downplay the divisions.

“It’s all puppies and rainbows,” Jeffries quipped.