Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is not happy with her fellow Democrats after her party got rocked in a procedural vote battle with House Republicans. In short, while the bill passed, the House GOP had outmaneuvered Democrats, adding their amendment that would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement be notified if illegal aliens try to buy guns. Yes, the whole bill is trash, but with Democrats in charge of the lower chamber, the blitz proved effective. It allowed the GOP to have at least some impact on the legislation, while Democrats vowed not to let any of their amendments to be included. The amendment was added after the Republicans won a motion to recommit, exposing the fault lines within the new Democratic majority (via WaPo):
A surprise Republican win in the House on a procedural vote Wednesday exposed divisions within the Democratic leadership, set off recriminations and underscored that the party is still adjusting to its new majority.
GOP leaders used one of the few tools available to the House minority to amend a Democratic gun-control bill, adding a provision that would require notification to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when undocumented immigrants try to buy guns.
Twenty-six Democrats joined Republicans on the vote, an embarrassing setback for party leaders who had carefully screened amendments to keep GOP fingerprints off a high-profile bill.
While the Bipartisan Background Checks Act ultimately passed, finger-pointing began almost immediately in a lengthy floor conference that included the top three Democratic leaders: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.).
“This is a conversation that we’re going to need to have,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a senior chief deputy whip. “The more unity we show, the better it is for our new Democratic majority.”
Pelosi has now threatened to pull Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee support for Democrats who vote with Republicans on procedural votes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also threatened to set loose her progressive goons to let voters in districts represented by vulnerable Democrats know that they’re siding with the Republicans on these votes. Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and James Clyburn (D-SC), the House Majority Leader and whip respectively, disagree, however (via Politico):
“This is not a day at the beach. This is the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi said, according to two sources.
Pelosi also said vulnerable Democrats who had the “courage” to vote against the Republican motions to recommit would become a higher priority for the party leadership and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the superstar New York freshman lawmaker, suggested she would alert progressive activists when Democrats are voting with the GOP on these motions, said the sources.
In the end, Pelosi and other top Democrats didn’t agree to any rules change and will continue to study the issue. The motion to recommit offers the House minority one last shot at changing legislation before it receives a final floor vote. Typically, the motion is used to try to squeeze the majority party, but it rarely succeeds.
Democratic leaders have vowed to do a better job preparing for the Republican motions, but the controversy has divided Pelosi and her longtime lieutenants, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Pelosi argues that Democrats must stick together on procedural votes, which is the traditional view of party leaders on both sides of the aisle. Hoyer and Clyburn, however, have suggested that moderate members can vote with Republicans if they think it will improve their political standing.
So, while we can all grab some popcorn over this infighting, this bill is certainly going to die in the Republican Senate, and Trump has vowed to veto it as well. Still, kudos, to the House GOP for pulling of this minor procedural win that embarrassed House Democrats.