Moderates Emerge as a Democratic Power in US House

main_dogBy Julie Hirchfeld Davis

An interesting piece by the New York Times discusses the growing power of a  moderate democrat faction in the United States House. Hopefully this new development will allow Democrats to wield power more effectively and move forward with Republicans on some issues of dire importance.(Moderates Emerge as a Democratic Power in US House)

For all the talk of a Tea Party of the left, the true power in the House revealed its face last week — the Mighty Moderates.

The failure of House liberals to attach strict conditions to billions of dollars in emergency border aid requested by President Trump highlighted the outsize power of about two dozen centrist Democrats, mainly from Republican-leaning districts, who are asserting themselves to pull the chamber to the right.

Their views diverge sharply from the mostly liberal cast of Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination and from the diverse new crop of outspoken liberals in the House who have captured the public’s imagination and infused new energy into the progressive majority of their caucus. But their victories in districts that Mr. Trump won in 2016 are the reason Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, a staunch liberal herself, holds her gavel. For now, they are proving far more effective at wielding their influence than those in the party’s vocal and headline-grabbing left.

The moderates’ latest use of that clout played out in sometimes ugly fashion last week in the Capitol, in heated scrums on the House floor, angry exchanges between erstwhile allies, mudslinging on Twitter, and late-night meetings with leadership. One liberal accused his moderate colleagues of enabling child abuse. A moderate clapped back that the name-caller, Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, was just chasing followers on social media.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, whose rock-starlike popularity on the left has given her a louder than usual microphone for a first-term lawmaker, accused the moderates of being the new Tea Party.

But unlike Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her like-minded colleagues, the moderates have taken a tactical page from the roughly 40 Republicans who make up the Freedom Caucus, whose sway in the Republican majority came from their willingness to defect from the party line on crucial votes unless they received concessions.

While the House’s liberal superstars are adept at promoting their progressive positions and routinely generate headlines for breaking with the party line, they have not made a habit of lobbying their colleagues to defy Ms. Pelosi en masse. Last week, the foursome known as The Squad — Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — announced their opposition to a Democratic border spending bill that included strict rules on the way the money could be used, saying it was not liberal enough. But when that first vote was tallied, they were the only four Democrats opposed, and the measure passed easily.

“The question was, would you rather just obstruct and delay, as some wanted to, or were we going to get humanitarian aid to children at the border right now?” said Representative Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey and the co-chairman of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 23 Republicans and 23 Democrats that presses for bipartisan compromises.

The group met on Wednesday and discussed the mounting anxiety many of them had about going home for a July 4 recess having failed to pass the border bill. After taking a vote, members decided to issue a news release calling for the House to pass the Senate bill, effectively surrendering a politically risky fight over immigration so the aid could go through.

“There was a very significant and real concern that we wouldn’t act at all and leave town with no immediate humanitarian aid for children at the border,” Mr. Gottheimer said. “That was unacceptable.”

The result was a bitter pill for liberals who had insisted they could not vote for the aid package without tough new restrictions and higher standards for facilities that hold migrant children.

Ms. Pressley conceded that the left had work to do to figure out how to wield its power more effectively.

“We are building new muscle,” she said in an interview, “and as we build that new muscle, we will better understand how to flex it.

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