Deep split in the blue party: Peolsi, House Democrats bury Bernie’s agenda

by WorldTribune Staff, March 6, 2020

Medicare for All and tuition-free college are among the top issues being pushed by Bernie Sanders.

Much of the socialist presidential candidate’s agenda is not likely to ever see the light of day in a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And the parts of the Sanders agenda which have been brought up in the House have too few supporters to guarantee passage, an analysis said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pursuing what she calls ‘mainstream and non-menacing’ legislation. / C-SPAN

“Despite pressure from some rank-and-file members, Pelosi said she is not about to sink the Democratic majority by holding votes on bills that would expose the deep ideological split within the party,” Gabriella Muñoz wrote for The Washington Times on March 4.

“Instead, she has pursued legislation on gun control, election reform and prescription drug price reductions — what she called ‘mainstream and non-menacing’ legislation that can guarantee near-unanimous votes from her troops.”

Pelosi stated: “We have to win in certain particular areas; we’re not about a popular vote in the country. … We are district by district.”

House Democrats have granted a hearing on Sanders’ signature Medicare for All health care bill, “but the legislation won’t make it to the floor if the party’s less liberal members have a say,” Muñoz wrote.

Sanders does have some allies in the House who have tried to press the progressive agenda, among the socialist “squad” members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, California Democrat, introduced the House version of Sanders’ estate tax plan in October, Muñoz noted. The bill would lower the threshold for the tax from $11.4 million to $3.5 million and raise the top rates for those who die with more wealth.

But only 39 Democrats have signed onto the bill, far short of a majority of the caucus and nowhere near the 218 votes needed to guarantee passage.

A version Sanders’ bill to wipe out $1.6 trillion in student loan debt and make public colleges tuition free has only 20 co-sponsors in the House.

The Green New Deal, the climate alarmist project Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez support, has nearly 100 co-sponsors in the House but still lacks majority support.

Muñoz noted that a “slimmed-down Green New Deal” for public housing has just 22 co-sponsors with Ocasio-Cortez in the House. Sanders has just two Democratic colleagues — Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — on board in the Senate.

Sanders’ socialist platform is a huge turn-off for swing-district Democrats who delivered the House majority to the party in 2018, said Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey.

“Why would we risk this extraordinary opportunity by nominating somebody who has a tendency to divide our own side?” asked Malinowski, a Democrat who in the 2018 midterms captured a Jersey district that President Donald Trump won in 2016. “Our focus here is continuing to pass bills and to continue to present to the American people what we think a part of the Democratic Party stands for, which is pragmatic legislation.”

While the much of the Sanders agenda may never see daylight in the House, Pelosi has still “made sure her troops don’t take votes that would embarrass Sanders,” Muñoz wrote.

Democrats stopped a Republican attempt last week to force action on a resolution chastising Sanders for his comments praising re-education camps under communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Moderates point out that Sanders’ voters are the most liberal elements of the Democratic electorate — not the moderate to conservative voters who populate the swing districts that will determine control of the House in November.

They also cast doubt on whether Sanders would get his plans through Congress even as president.

“Nothing is going to be easy,” said Rep. Gilbert Ray Cisneros Jr., who represents a swing district in California. “The president comes in, he’s going to have to work with Congress. You have 435 members in the House who have their own ideas for what’s best, and he’s going to have to work with us in order to move forward in the agenda that’s going to be best for the American people.”

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