Many freshman Democrats in the House are defying Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and not voting with the party on key issues. They told Politico they are there to represent their constituents and not make big points with House leadership.
Dan Maffei (D-NY) has voted less with his party than any other freshman Democrat. He voted with Republicans to delay the mandates in Obamacare for one year. Fourteen of his colleagues joined him and Pelosi accused them of undermining her.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL) took to the House floor to attack the defectors, but Maffei does not regret his actions:
Maffei, a former House staffer, is unrepentant. “What my constituents tell me and what best helps the community I represent is how I decide to vote,” Maffei said in a statement to POLITICO. “The people of Central New York have made it clear to me that the most important issues are growing our middle class, spurring our local economy, and creating more jobs across the region.”
Joe Garcia (D-FL) is one of the other Democrats who joined Maffei and voted to delay the Obamacare mandates:
“People don’t come to Washington to be Democrats or Republicans–in life I’ve always find there are two ways to do things… it’s the right way or the wrong way, and I vote for the right way,” Garcia said. “I respect them making points, but I’m not going to make points, I’m going to make good law.”
Sources told Politico Pelosi was upset but did not complain in public. Instead, she kept everything behind closed doors and attempted to persuade them. She brought in Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, to teach the representatives how to talk to critics and took them to the White House to meet with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
Pelosi has been able to keep them in line with smaller bills, including many attempts to fully repeal Obamacare, but these freshmen will continue to side with their districts over House leadership.