Sept. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Democrats’ Agenda Shaky

“When the Democrats start losing seats, it’s going to be the Blue Dogs who are going to lose them first. ... If you do the math, you take our 51 Members and we’re back in the minority,” he said.

But health care is just one of the battles in Congress that Democrats are finding difficult to manage.

Democratic leaders are also still scrambling to find the votes for the $90 billion-plus war supplemental after Republican leaders vowed to whip their Members to defeat it because of the inclusion of a $108 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund.

If no Republican votes for the bill, Democrats would need to flip 18 of 51 anti-war Democrats to pass it. But finding those votes is complicated by disputes with the White House over language restricting the president’s ability to transfer detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. and Senate language that would provide President Barack Obama with explicit legal authority to block the release of detainee abuse photos.

Democratic aides said the disputes were relatively minor and probably could have been cleared up if timing was urgent, or if Obama wasn’t jetting to the Middle East with his team focused on his entreaties to the Muslim world.

“The military isn’t running out of money. There’s no pressure to get it done, and when there is no pressure to get it done, people take their time,” a Democratic aide said.

The third major agenda item — energy — saw Pelosi beginning to crack the whip against chairmen who had been threatening to delay or kill the measure.

House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) went from saying he would put a cap-and-trade bill on the back burner to saying he would comply with a deadline by Pelosi that his panel finish work on the bill by June 19. Pelosi later called that deadline a goal and said it could be extended if committees needed more time.

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) also pulled back a bit from his threats to kill the bill, instead entering intense negotiations with Waxman over protections for the ethanol industry and rural areas.

Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the back-and-forth is part of the legislative process. “On health care, on energy, at the end of the day, we will deliver for the American people,” he said.

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