Party Infighting over Spending Bill Derails Democrats’ Weekend Plans: ‘This Retreat Is Cursed’

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference, Wed
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

House Democrats’ disagreements over the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill led to a delayed vote on Wednesday, which, in turn, upended the Democrats’ long-awaited pre-midterm retreat plans.

The bill passed in two parts at around 10:00 p.m. Wednesday evening after intra-party contention ultimately forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to excise $15 billion in coronavirus funding from the bill, a move the speaker described as “heartbreaking,” according to a letter she wrote to her colleagues.

The funding would have been offset by unspent state-allocated coronavirus relief money, which governors in various states took issue with, leading to those states’ congress members raising objections to the offset with Pelosi.

A Politico report cited several Democrat members who “streamed through Pelosi’s office on Wednesday afternoon as the caucus scrambled for a solution,” including Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Angie Craig (D-MN), and Debbie Dingell (D-MN). The outlet also noted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, opposed the offset.

Pelosi, however, spoke on the spending package in a press conference early Wednesday evening in which she blamed Republicans for the multibillion-dollar funding concession she had to make while chalking up Democrat-induced complications to “lively negotiation.”

The objections and ultimate removal of that portion of the bill came after Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) filed a motion to adjourn Wednesday morning, a timely enough process that it helped give way to the subsequent breakdown of the bill in its current state and its eventual need to be rewritten before coming up for a vote.

Hice later quipped on social media that his motion may have been the “most cost-saving MTA in American history.”

The Georgia congressman joined several of his Republican colleagues in vocalizing their disapproval of the voting process on Wednesday. The bill was more than 2,700 pages long and was not made public until sometime after 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Hice said, “A massive late night bill drops and Democrats expect us to vote on it without having the time to vet it. The system is broken.”

He also accused Democrats of “trying to rush the most massive spending bill in American history through the house… to board a bus and head to their retreat as soon as possible.”

One Capitol Hill aide present toward the end of the evening told Breitbart News he heard two Democrats, including Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), saying they would not be going to the retreat and that they appeared “angry.” Torres’s office did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for confirmation of her plans.

The multi-day retreat, the first in-person conference for Democrats since coronavirus entered the scene, was supposed to begin Wednesday in Philadelphia. The day was to conclude with a performance by a man dressed in drag who goes by the stage name “Lady Bunny.”

A Punchbowl News reporter shared a photo of the empty venue on Wednesday night:

A colorful CNN report headlined “As Democrats try to unify, a messy spending fight leaves emotions raw” detailed bitter remarks Democrats had made throughout the day, mainly over the coronavirus provision of the bill, and indicated the caucus would be busing to its retreat late Wednesday night in an overall state of frustration.

Pocan said he “hoped Lady Bunny was having a nice dinner since members were not there for her performance” and that “this retreat is cursed,” according to the CNN report.

The report added, “Another Democrat was more succinct. ‘What a s***show,’ the member said.”

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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