House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) is looking to prove to Democrats and liberal activists that she can win through a deal she struck with Donald Trump on spending and the debt limit, refusing to apologize for the agreement despite facing left-wing backlash for working with the president.
Immigration activists and liberal groups have harshly criticized Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) for making a deal with Trump and Republican congressional leaders without securing a plan to extend legal protections to dreamers, young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the Washington Post reported Friday.
Trump on Wednesday crossed party lines and agreed to Democrats' demands to raise the debt limit and fund the government for the next three months, rather than for a longer period as GOP leaders wanted. The debt ceiling vote was paired with $15.25 billion in disaster aid.
Pelosi is not apologizing to those critical of her deal with Trump, arguing it was a critical step to give Democrats "leverage" later on.
"I make no apology for doing that with the person who is going to sign the bill," Pelosi told the Post. "It gives you great leverage."
Pelosi said she believes Democratic voters want her and Schumer to find common ground with Trump, and that she hopes they will not make the same mistake Republicans made when they refused to work with former President Barack Obama.
The bill passed by a vote of 316 to 90 in the House; 183 of those votes came from Democrats, ensuring they have a chance to ask for major concessions on immigration in December.
By striking a deal with Trump, Pelosi says he recognized the power that a unified Democratic Party brings to the table.
"If they had the votes, we wouldn't have been having the meeting. The clarity of the situation, I think, the president was fully aware of," Pelosi said.
Pelosi said that she now has Trump's ear, pointing to a tweet he sent Thursday on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program.
After Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Trump administration would rescind DACA, Pelosi said that she planned to call the White House to tell Chief of Staff John Kelly that immigrants protected by DACA were scared. However, Trump called her first.
"I said: 'Mr. President, I'm so glad you called, because this is the challenge we have. I know you didn't mean to instill fear, but it is happening,'" Pelosi said. "He said, 'Well, what can I do?' And I said, 'Do what you always do.'"
And so he tweeted.
After the phone call, Pelosi went into a meeting Thursday with lawmakers where she told them about the conversation with Trump.
"I'm glad I didn't leave this to the end of my presentation," Pelosi said. "Because how could I say at the end of the presentation, 'Oh, I asked him to do that.'"