Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

House Liberals Find Footing

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is seeing the Democratic Caucus rally in the wake of last month’s continuing resolution fight. But Democrats in the House have struggled this year to adjust to their position in the minority.

After months of a rough adjustment to their minority status, House Democrats say they are harmonizing around a jobs message and will look to hit Republicans at every turn.

Members and aides say the Caucus got a major morale boost when it held together late last month in helping to defeat a GOP-drafted continuing resolution that offset disaster aid spending, with the myriad factions, from the Congressional Black Caucus to Blue Dogs, voting against the measure.

The majority of the Caucus voted for a separate short-term CR agreement that easily passed on the floor Tuesday. In a statement, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) used the occasion to trumpet her party for defeating the earlier version that would have offset disaster aid by cutting into a popular program designed to spur development of more fuel-efficient automotives.

“From the start, Democrats insisted that we protect good-paying American jobs while meeting our obligations to families, small business owners and communities affected by recent natural disasters,” said Pelosi, who voted for Tuesday’s measure. “Today, we upheld that pledge.”

Rep. Robert Andrews (N.J.), a top Pelosi lieutenant, said last month’s CR vote “has given us a renewed sense of purpose.” He also said, “In a very disciplined and focused way, we are telling whoever will listen that we think a jobs plan like the president’s ought to be passed, and we intend in every forum we can to drive home a point that Republicans are acting irresponsibly with not moving forward.”

Pelosi spent part of Tuesday leading a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee meeting on jobs, while across town scores of liberal activists gathered for the Take Back the American Dream Conference.

In a session about tax reform titled “Paying for the American Dream,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called Wall Street traders crooks, chided Republicans for attempting to cut Social Security and Medicare and lauded President Barack Obama’s policy priorities, all to wild applause.

“We’ll be damned if we’re going to see a handful of robber barons control the future of this country,” Sanders said. “Let’s be blunt and let’s speak to the urgency of the moment, not just the statistics. The reality is the middle class is collapsing.”

Other sessions focused on social issues, the environment and simply building a movement. Though there is still work to be done, activist and organizer Heather Booth said she sees a grass-roots coming together that could gain momentum.

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