Nancy Pelosi Losing Control Of House Democrats
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s leadership issues don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
House Democrats have consistently bucked Pelosi on key issues, undermining her authority within the caucus and casting doubt upon her future as top Democrat in the House.
Most recently, House Democrats have sought to distance themselves from Pelosi after she repeatedly dismissed the tax cut bill’s benefits to the working class as “crumbs.”
“I would not use crumbs personally, and I think a lot of Blue Dogs would not use crumbs,” Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar told Politico for a story that ran Tuesday.
Democratic Missouri Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver echoed Cuellar’s remarks. “Language is important, and we have to be very careful that we don’t insult people by saying that the amount of money they get is crumbs,” Cleaver told Politico.
Other Democrats have similarly distanced themselves from Pelosi’s remarks, even as she has remained unapologetic for using the dismissive language.
Democratic New York Rep. Joe Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, indicated that Pelosi’s remarks were counterproductive. “I think for people making $40,000 a year, any increase in their take-home is significant for them, and I don’t want to diminish that at all,” Crowley said last week.
“The approach has to be more big picture than personal, because you can’t tell people that are getting $200 a month more that that’s not good,” Democratic Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth told the Washington Examiner. “That’s big money for a lot of people.”
Yarmuth added, “I wouldn’t say a couple thousand dollars a year is ‘crumbs.'”
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, has also distanced himself from Pelosi’s talking point. “I would not describe it as crumbs,” Ellison told Business Insider. “The income inequality is so bad that if you could pick up 1,000 or 900 bucks, maybe it helps.”
Tax reform is just the latest key issue on which House Democrats have veered away from Pelosi.
Despite Pelosi’s warnings against it, six Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump in November. The House overwhelmingly rejected the motion a month later in December, but 58 Democrats supported moving the process forward. That number has inched higher since then. Sixty-six House Democrats supported the motion a second time around in January.
Pelosi’s ability to lead took another hit late last year when Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers was credibly accused of being a serial sexual harasser. Pelosi initially defended Conyers as an “icon” and deferred to a House Ethics Committee investigation — a process that can stretch out for years.
It took Pelosi 10 days to call for the establishment Democrat’s resignation, which she did only after facing the prospect of a revolt from members furious that Conyers could remain in office. Conyers stepped down shortly thereafter.
Whether Pelosi will remain as leader of the Democratic caucus after the midterm elections in November is something of an open question on Capitol Hill.
Pelosi faced a challenge from Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan following the party’s underwhelming performance in the 2016 election. Although Pelosi was able to hang onto her leadership position, Ryan’s challenge demonstrated how shaky Pelosi’s position is with younger members of the party, some of whom want Pelosi gone before the midterms. (RELATED: Democrats’ 2018 Candidates Are Sprinting Away From Nancy Pelosi)
“Great leaders know when it’s time to step aside, and I obviously have been calling for her leadership team to step aside,” Democratic New York Rep. Kathleen Rice told The Atlantic in an interview last week. “I think it would be advantageous to us if that were made clear before the election.”
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, a consistent Pelosi critic, echoed Rice’s comments to The Atlantic. Moulton called it “the harsh reality of 2018” that Pelosi will hurt Democrats in the midterms if she remains atop the party. “It’s going to be harder to win in 2018 if we don’t have new leadership,” he said.
Full disclosure: Kathleen Rice is a distant relative of this reporter