LEESBURG, Go. – House Democrats headed this week to a suburban retreat to celebrate "100 days of success" after winning back the majority in January and passing numerous bills.
But when they arrived in Leesburg, Virginia, they had suffered a tough internal battle over spending that forced President Nancy Pelosi to cancel a vote on a critical bill to increase mandatory spending limits for the next two years. exercises.
The Democrats hoped that a strong vote in favor of their plan for generous increases in domestic spending would give them more weight as Pelosi begins bipartisan talks on a final deal with President Trump and the Senate Majority Leader. , Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
But their progressive party wanted higher domestic spending and less for the military budget and refused to support the deal, while financially moderate Democrats complained of too high a price.
The fight left the caucus speechless to pass the measure and sent a powerful message to the party that the unity they enjoyed within the minority has its limits now that they lead the House and are responsible for show the way forward. pass spending measures.
"We have a lot of members on a learning curve, a steep learning curve," said John Yarmuth, chairman of the House's budget committee.
Democrats now face the same problems as Republicans and the majority: winning elections brings more diversity to the caucus, making it more difficult for everyone to agree.
Yarmuth has met with moderate groups and progressives in recent weeks, "trying to find what was feasible, what was the good side."
Yarmuth wrote a measure that, in his opinion, was convinced "to have the best possible chance" of winning a majority without Republicans, who generally never supported the democratic budget measures.
He introduced a measure that would have raised the current domestic spending ceiling by 5.7 percent to $ 631 billion in fiscal year 2020 and $ 646 billion over the next year. 2021. This measure would have increased defense spending by 2.6% from the current ceiling to $ 664 billion in 2020. Defense spending would be capped at $ 680 billion in 2021.
But progressive caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Calif., Called for a $ 33 billion increase in domestic spending over Yarmuth's ceiling and a reduction in military spending.
Moderate Democrats, meanwhile, worried about the impact of rising spending on the country's debt and booming deficit.
"We are in agreement to increase spending levels as long as this is paid," said representative Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, a member of the moderate Blue Dog coalition.
Democrats in the House have finally rejected the agreement on budget ceilings with the most senior bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate, who are considering entering into an agreement with President Trump.
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders downplayed the importance of the failure of the budget vote and pointed to the many political measures easily adopted by Democrats since the reconquest of the hammer in January.
"It serves your purpose to say that we are in full swing," Pelosi told reporters. "But we are on the right track to serve the American people."
House Democrats have enacted many landmark legislation this year, including a gun control measure and a bill to reform campaign financing and voting laws.
Next month, they will adopt measures to legalize Dreamers, combat climate change and put in place regulations to guarantee pay equity for women.
None of these key political priorities are likely to be raised in the Senate led by the GoP, but that does not matter, Pelosi said. The measures are popular with voters.
"We are optimistic and hope that we can not pass bills in the House," Pelosi told reporters. "We intend to do so, to state our purpose, to honor our commitment to the American people, to make advances on their behalf."
But Democrats will still have to contend with unavoidable spending legislation, which, as demonstrated by the failed budget deal, divides the caucus in the same way it has divided the majority of the GOP over the last decade . The fiscal year ends on September 30th.
Yarmuth forged close ties with high-profile Republican on the budget panel, Arkansas representative Steve Womack, who has struggled to unify the GOP around spending limits and is familiar with Yarmuth's challenge.
"He's making fun of me," said Yarmuth. "He says, I feel your pain, I feel your pain. I know exactly what you are going through.