Politics

March Madness for Congressional Democrats

It's been a March full of madness so far for House Democrats.

After Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) made anti-Semitic remarks in office for the second time in as many months, House Democratic leadership attempted to once again make a public rebuke and was left looking weak.

Insurgents in the progressive wing of her caucus forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to change a resolution condemning anti-Semitism to one against all kinds of hate, when Omar's supporters defended her and confronted Pelosi in a fiery, closed-doors meeting.

After saying Omar's remarks last month stating Jewish lobbyist money paid off pro-Israel politicians, Pelosi defended Omar this time, saying the freshman congresswoman didn't understand "the full weight of the words."

Democrats have also been left reeling by Republican victories with procedural methods called "motions to recommit."

When the House passed an expanded background checks bill late last month, Republicans added an amendment requiring federal officials to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement whenever a lawful or unlawful immigrant tried to illegally buy a gun. To the embarrassment of Democrats, 26 of them joined Republicans in supporting the measure.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) was furious, accusing the Democrats who voted for it giving more powers to a "dangerous" agency. She told this reporter that stories about her threatening to primary the Democrats who supported it were false.

"There's a good deal of frustration over this in the caucus," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) told the Hill.

"Vote ‘no.' Just vote ‘no,' because the fact is a vote ‘yes' is to give leverage to the other side, to surrender the leverage on the floor of the House," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

Democrats have also stumbled on their calls for universal health care through "Medicare for all," a program that one study estimates would cost $32 trillion to implement over the next decade.

"Democratic support for Medicare for All is slipping from the high levels seen around the November midterm elections as voters worry about its price tag and the toll it would take on both private and employer health coverage," the Wall Street Journal reported March 1.

While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) grows frustrated while watching his fellow 2020 competitors take his ideas—voters "might want to look at who was there first," he grumbled on The View last week—more center-left House members aren't as enthused about it.

That includes the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Cherie Bustos (D., Ill.).

"I think the $33 trillion price tag for Medicare for all is a little scary," she said.