“We’re talking about human lives, and let’s just subject people to the laws, but we also have to recognize that everybody in America has rights,” a visibly emotional Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday afternoon. Later that day, however, right-wingers in the House Democratic caucus confirmed that, in fact, they don’t believe everybody in America has rights.
With the help of Republicans on Thursday, conservative House Democrats passed a Senate bill to keep funding President Donald Trump’s concentration camps for children with pretty much no strings attached. Progressives in the House had worked out a deal with Pelosi that would have tied restrictions on how the Trump administration could use the more than $4 billion in funding, but after the even more useless Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer didn’t even try to rally his caucus against the Senate bill—which basically has no restrictions on how the administration will use the money—it passed the Senate 84-8.
Then, half of the House Democratic caucus—which actually has the power to stop this—voted for Mitch McConnell’s border funding bill. What finally got Pelosi to back down, you ask? Per the New York Times:
Her retreat came after Vice President Mike Pence gave Ms. Pelosi private assurances that the administration would abide by some of the restrictions she had sought. They included a requirement to notify lawmakers within 24 hours after the death of a migrant child in government custody, and a 90-day time limit on children spending time in temporary intake facilities, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
That’s right. “Private assurances” from Mike Pence that the administration would give them a heads up if a kid dies. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair and Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan rightfully called out the Problem Solvers Caucus—the Vichy-lite group of House Democrats led by Rahm Emanuel wannabe Josh Gottheimer, who once (allegedly) beat the shit out of a parked car in the midst of a temper tantrum—for its role in this disaster.
Rep. Max Rose, a freshman from Staten Island in the Blue Dog caucus, told the New York Times that Pocan’s comment “shows why everybody hates this place.” That’s not true. Everybody hates “this place” because members are more worried about their chances at re-election than kids dying at the border.
But ultimately, divisions in the House, not differences with the Senate, forced Ms. Pelosi’s hand. Moderate Democrats privately told House Democratic leaders that they were wary of supporting a bill that provided less money for ICE that could later be used against them in their re-election campaigns to portray them as weak on immigration enforcement, according to two lawmakers and several aides familiar with the discussions who described them on the condition of anonymity.
The squabbling grew intense on the House floor on Thursday afternoon, as a scrum of the moderate members huddled in tense discussion about how to proceed. At least one, Representative Abigail Spanberger, Democrat of Virginia, grew visibly emotional and at one point stormed out red-faced, barking at a reporter who tried to interview her: “I do not want to talk!”
“This bill — opposed by the Hispanic caucus and nearly 100 Democratic members of the House — will not stop the Trump administration’s chaos and cruelty,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said in a statement. “What happened today is unacceptable, and we will not forget this betrayal.”
This is what happens when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—whose chair, Cheri Bustos, voted for the bill along with other senior members of the leadership including Steny Hoyer—only recruits the most right-wing candidates to run in swing districts. They get elected, they vote like right-wingers, and then they’re swept out of office in favor of actual right-wingers as soon as there’s an opportunity. These people are not just useless; they are active obstacles to social progress. They might as well be on Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy’s payroll.
If you voted for any of these people last November, you should be nothing less than infuriated. Democrats succeeded in their campaign to take back the House on the back of being a check to the power of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. That is why people voted for them. Somewhere along the way, however, they convinced themselves that they’re now in office because of healthcare, or jobs, or infrastructure, or some other bullshit that they’re not even doing. Ultimately, it boils down to them pushing the notion that voters want them to collapse in defeat to the Trump administration in the most bipartisan fashion possible just to show they can get things done. They do not represent you, and they never will.
What is there to do, then? Primary them. Primary all of them, no matter how much they whine about how red their district is or the “political realities” that consistently prevent them from doing the right thing over and over again. And if the people who replace them prove to be just as cowardly as their predecessors, primary them, too, and keep doing so, until there’s finally someone who gives a fuck about both the people they represent and the people they don’t occupying the office.