posted at 1:21 pm on February 8, 2017 by John Sexton
Politico has two stories up today which suggests there is a divide forming between Senate Democrats, who are going all-in on obstructionism, and House Democrats who are still uncertain that saying no to everything will work out well for them.
As Ed noted earlier, a majority of Democrats say they are on board with total obstructionism but it seems some House Democrats aren’t fully convinced. Politico reports the biggest question at this year’s annual Democratic caucus retreat is whether or not to commit to total war or leave some room for compromise:
The biggest divide within the caucus is whether to jump headfirst into a four-year, fist-to-fist brawl with Donald Trump or stay on the current path of frequently needling the president but holding out for cooperation where possible…
“Opposition for opposition’s sake, even if we think the policies proposed are good for the American people… I think the public would not think that’s our responsibility or duty,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
But some of the younger Democrats, including those who supported a change of leadership after 2016, feel differently:
“We cannot work with this guy,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who voted against Pelosi, said of Trump. “I think at some point reality is going to hit leadership.”
So that’s what is happening on the House side. There’s a divide between factions who want to turn the next four years into a battle and those who want to leave room for some compromise. But on the Senate side, it sounds as if the question of how to respond is settled. As the Senate deals with Trump’s cabinet nominees, Democrats are looking to obstruct even if they know they will fail, hoping the effort and publicity will help them in the long term. From a separate piece at Politico:
Democrats don’t have much of a choice other than to oppose and delay many of the new president’s nominees, given the anti-Trump fever among their base. Protesters have surrounded Schumer’s house in Brooklyn to chant “resist or resign.” Clearly there’s little appetite among Democratic voters for moderation…
Democrats see little downside to the quixotic Cabinet fights. They’re hoping to capture enthusiasm from outside the Beltway and channel it into a political strategy — in a replay of 2009 and 2010, when the GOP largely co-opted the tea party movement to sap Obama’s momentum…
“They’ve awakened a sleeping giant. Some of these people were already activated, but many are coming into the political process for the first time,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the DSCC, said in an interview.
So the locus of Democratic resistance seems to be the more deliberative Senate, while House Democrats seem to be heading toward something like conditional acceptance. That’s not the picture of the two chambers we learned in civics class but it seems the Trump era is a different animal.