Border bill exposes Dems’ rift over limits of fighting Trump
Hardly anyone in Congress opposes improving the horrific conditions awaiting many migrants caught spilling across the southwest border. Yet for Democrats, distrust of President Donald Trump runs so deep that a uniformly popular humanitarian aid bill prompted the party’s deepest and most bitter divisions since they took House control in January .
The bill dealt a blow to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who had to accept weaker legislation than she preferred. But it also produced schisms that radiated far broader shock waves.
It pitted House and Senate Democrats against each other and highlighted discord between the House’s sizable progressive and centrist factions. It showed that Pelosi faces a challenging balancing act that goes well beyond coping with a handful of vocal, liberal freshmen like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
The fight suggests that similar power plays between the liberal and moderate blocs could complicate Democrats’ efforts to move future bills on marquee issues like health care, climate change and divvying up federal dollars among defense and domestic programs. And it echoed problems faced by recent Republican speakers when they controlled the House and saw priorities derailed by members of the GOP’s hard-right, often unyielding House Freedom Caucus.
“It is not good for our unity,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a liberal leader, adding, “This is a very rough patch.”
While both chambers of Congress approved the package by lopsided margins, Senate Democrats led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backed it overwhelmingly, with just six Democrats voting “no.” They congratulated themselves for cutting the best deal they could in the Republican-controlled chamber, where the rules virtually force the two parties to compromise if legislation is to pass.
“You’ve got a 30-1 vote,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Senate Democrats’ chief negotiator on the measure, citing the Appropriations Committee’s overwhelming approval, which presaged the Senate’s 84-8 final passage. “Around here these days you couldn’t get 30-1 that the sun rises in the East.”
28th June 2019