Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Democrats Feel the Short End of the Stick

Hostility in the House, Resignation in the Senate

Tom Williams/Roll Call
From left: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam phone members of their Conference from Cantor's office to see how they will vote before the debt limit vote in the House.

In the end, it seems the only people in Washington being forced to eat their debt limit peas will be Democrats, who found themselves swallowing a bitter political deal forced on them by the White House and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

When President Barack Obama issued his famous "peas" admonishment, he didn't have just his fellow Democrats in mind. But in the end, it was clearly Democrats and not Republicans who were feeling the pain from his agreement.

Hoping to soothe hurt feelings Monday, Obama dispatched Vice President Joseph Biden to Capitol Hill to coax angry liberals particularly in the House to vote for the bill.

Although it was widely expected enough Democrats would back the bill in both chambers, Biden had little success in convincing them of the virtue of compromise.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, dismissed the negotiations as little more than a capitulation by the White House to GOP demands, arguing it was "all give and no take, no back and forth. This is no compromise."

"We're trapped in this tea party agenda. They won, so they should be able to deliver the votes," the Arizona Democrat added.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), his fellow Progressive Caucus co-chairman, agreed: "We and many more of the Progressive Caucus will be voting 'no.'"

"Come on, any other jokes?" Rep. Peter DeFazio said when asked whether he believed Obama had fought hard enough for Democrats in the weeks-long bipartisan negotiations.

"No revenues, big domestic cuts, the only specified cut is to student financial aid; that's kind of bizarre," the Oregon Democrat said before entering the meeting with Biden. "And the prospect of things getting worse in November. No, I don't think it's a good deal."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Caucus leaders were quiet throughout the meeting with Biden and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, according to a Democratic Member.

No one seemed more devastated over the plan than members of the Congressional Black Caucus, however. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who read to reporters a constituent letter urging him to oppose the deal, said, "A number of Members are concerned that you have a strong tea party, which is at the far right, which is basically holding Congress and the nation hostage, and a lot of people are concerned.

"This is a process, and we just can't make a decision for this moment, we have to make it for years to come," the Maryland Democrat said when asked whether he would support the measure. "The ramifications of this deal ... are going to be long-lasting."

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