Partway through Nancy Pelosi’s record-breaking immigration floor speech on Wednesday, her own caucus began to chafe. “There’s all kinds of ways, I assure you, that leadership exercises its influence—the least of which is a floor speech,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez vented to Politico. Others saw the speech as a shrewd bit of politicking designed to soften the blow of a budget deal that, again, overlooks Dreamers; with Pelosi on the floor, her aides were part of a team reportedly “lightly encouraging a yes vote” on the spending bill. “The reality,” a moderate Democratic aide observed “is that the filibuster is only being done to cater to the left-wing of the party at the expense of the larger caucus, and it’s in the interest of one person: Leader Pelosi.”
Though Pelosi had her supporters—Rep. Tim Ryan called the action “entirely appropriate”—the wave of discontent is emblematic of a deeper scheme within the party to eventually unseat her. The 2016 primary revealed deep rifts between an ossified Democratic elite and an increasingly progressive base, but the coalition has so far stuck together, running hopeful races based on anti-Trump sentiment. Should Dems fail to ride the upcoming “blue wave” to victory, however, they’re girding for what Rep. Alcee Hastings described as an “intraparty war”. On one side: Pelosi allies, represented by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer; on the other, younger Democrats, led by Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (though several other names are in the mix). As one House Democrat told Politico, the impetus for a fissure runs deeper than loyalties: “Most of us are ready for a real change and new leadership . . .The issue is not even about personalities. It’s about the future versus the past.”
Republicans, too, are fueling concerns as they seize on characterizations of Pelosi as a hectoring, contrarian, progressive woman, a role once filled by Hillary Clinton. “The longer @NancyPelosi bloviates on the House Floor against the deal—the more I’m inclined to support it,” tweeted Republican Congressman Mark Walker, who had expressed reservations toward the initial budget deal, while two other Republicans told Politico’s Jake Sherman that they thought her speech would help them rally votes for their version of the bill.
Read more at Vanity Fair.