Opinion | White House

Pelosi and Schumer want political theater instead of practical policy

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Democrats consistently put political theater instead of legislation at the top of their agenda in Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the leadership continue to demonstrate that Democrats are more interested in grandstanding than getting things done. After the 2018 midterm elections, she made a promise that House Democrats would work with President Trump on mutual priorities such as reducing prescription drug prices and funding infrastructure improvements.

Pelosi knew that her party owed its new House majority to just a handful of freshmen representatives who won close races in districts that had voted for Trump in 2016 by running as moderates who would promote bipartisanship. It did not take long for Pelosi to break her vow. Whenever Trump has given Democrats an opportunity to strike a deal, she has chosen to make a spectacle rather than a compromise.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer famously sat out a meeting with Trump to discuss a deal to fund the federal government last fall. When the pair finally did show up several weeks later, they were more eager to blame the president for the partial shutdown than to have a meaningful conversation about how to end the budget impasse.

A similar scenario played out when Pelosi and Schumer sat down with the president again several weeks later. Trump asked Pelosi if she would match his concessions with concessions of her own, and she refused. The president abruptly left that meeting, and rightly so. What is the point of negotiating with someone unwilling to compromise?

Despite the displays of obstinacy, the president continued to reach out on issues of mutual interest. Pelosi and Schumer again visited the White House to work on an infrastructure deal in the spring, and this time they emerged with a tentative agreement for a $2 trillion funding bill, a testament to how productive such bipartisan meetings can be when Democrats negotiate in good faith. The meeting even ended with hopes to discuss lowering prescription drug prices at a later date.

Unfortunately, Pelosi torpedoed the crucial follow up meeting, during which details were to be hammered out, by taking pot shots hours before she was due at the White House, telling the press that the president had engaged in a cover up. Not only was that blatantly false, but it was a clear sign that Pelosi had no real interest in reaching an actual deal.

Her cynical political calculations became more obvious in subsequent months. While Pelosi had no trouble finding time to launch a political impeachment inquiry against the president, she has consistently refused to hold a vote on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, even though the landmark trade deal enjoys broad bipartisan support and promises enormous benefits to American workers.

Pelosi and Schumer reopened their obstructionist playbook yet again last week, storming out of a White House meeting about the strategy in Syria. Incredibly, after they refused to even listen as the commander in chief explained his reasoning, they proceeded to blame Trump for their own intransigence. It seems clear that Democrats are determined to avoid passing bipartisan legislation that Trump could tout on the trail.

Sadly, their strategy is hurting the American people far more than it is hurting the president. Trump has gone out of his way to make sure Democrats know the White House door is always open if they want to make a deal. But Democrats are simply not interested in deals. They are singularly focused on manufacturing scandals and ginning up media narratives that they hope will damage the president politically.

Madison Gesiotto is an attorney and a commentator who serves with the advisory board of the Donald Trump campaign. She was an inauguration spokesperson and former Miss Ohio. She is on Twitter @MadisonGesiotto.