AS Rep. Nancy Pelosi gets ready to assume once again the speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives, it will be interesting to see how much sway she allows members who want to pull the Democratic Party ever further to the left.
Pelosi moved closer to the speaker’s gavel last week when the Democratic caucus voted 203-32 for her. She needs 218 votes from the full House in January to become speaker. Pelosi, D-Calif., is unlikely to win much, if any, Republican support, but it’s a safe bet enough caucus members who voted against her will flip in January or vote “present,” allowing her to become speaker again as she was from 2007-2011.
Pelosi had faced a sizable challenge, with 16 Democrats signing a letter promising to oppose her bid and several others waffling about whether they would support her. But Democrats continued to win seats that were too close to call on Election Night, providing her more wiggle room. And, she did some horse trading to sway other members.
One of those, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, had mulled challenging Pelosi for the speakership, until Pelosi named her chairwoman of a newly formed House subcommittee on elections. New York Rep. Brian Higgins opposed Pelosi until she vowed to work with him on improving infrastructure and lowering the age for Medicare eligibility, two priority issues for Higgins.
Another New Yorker, Rep. Kathleen Rice, said she and other members met with Pelosi to have “a reasonable conversation about leadership transition” but that their concerns “were dismissed outright.” Rice doesn’t seem inclined to change her mind, meaning she could be cast into the wilderness when committee and subcommittee assignments are made.
Rice is a solid progressive. Her website lists as priorities such issues as “protecting and strengthening” Social Security and Medicare, pursuing “common-sense solutions to prevent gun violence,” fighting for “equal rights for all,” and “relieving student loan debt.” Yet many in the party want much more.
Former Republican strategist Karl Rove notes that there are at least 123 House sponsors of “Medicare for All,” the goal of Sen. Bernie Sanders that carries a $32 trillion price tag and would mean the end of private insurance. That idea and others from the far left “are gaining purchase within the Democratic Party,” Rove wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal.
These include tuition-free college, a $15 minimum wage and tax increases on “the wealthy.” The most publicized new member of the House, democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, seeks to, among other things, guarantee “a living wage to every person who wants one.”
With Republicans in control of the Senate and the presidency, these proposals face bleak prospects. But Rove posits that Republicans nonetheless need to make solid cases against them because doing so would help the GOP in 2020.
Pelosi has been the literal face of far-left extremism in GOP attack ads for years, and not without cause, so it is odd to think she may now be a moderating influence on her caucus. Nonetheless, Pelosi would do her party a favor by tamping down some of the House Democrats’ most radical efforts to expand government. Whether she will is something to watch during 2019.
This article provided by NewsEdge.