House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she will vote against the budget deal needed to keep the government open past midnight but will not whip her caucus to vote the same way.
Pelosi’s decision means there’s a better chance — but no guarantee — that enough Democrats will offset Republican defections to pass the measure in the House.
“No, I’m just telling people why I’m voting the way I’m voting,” the California Democrat said when asked if she was formally whipping against the spending measure.
Pelosi is frustrated that House Republicans have no specific plans to take up an immigration bill protecting so-called Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
She has asked Speaker Paul D. Ryan to commit to holding a vote under a House rule called “queen of the hill,” but he has not obliged. On Thursday she called on the Wisconsin Republican to “man up” and allow a vote.
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The queen of the hill process would allow a House vote on multiple measures, including the conservative bill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte that most Republicans want and a bipartisan measure by Reps. Will Hurd and Pete Aguilar that Democrats prefer. If the Senate produces a bipartisan bill, the House could vote on that as well, Pelosi said.
Ultimately, the measure that got the most votes above the required simple majority vote threshold would prevail as the House-passed measure. Pelosi acknowledged that if the House passed something, a conference committee with the Senate to resolve any differences would likely still be needed.
“This is about one of the easiest decisions the speaker has to make, let the House work it’s will,” she said.
Pelosi’s decision not to whip against the budget deal will bring some relief to parts of the Democratic Caucus — many members think it’s unwise to link immigration and spending in a second shutdown scenario — and grief to others who wanted her to put the full force of leadership behind her position.
Pelosi called the budget deal “a good bill” but said it’s being done in “an insulting way.” She did lament the lack of payfors in the spending measure but said overall she was pleased with the product, only frustrated with the process.
The endorsement of the bill itself provides some cover for members who want to vote for it, but Pelosi’s personal stand against it — highlighted Wednesday by her record-breaking eight-hour floor speech — does put many members in a difficult spot. It remains unclear how many Democrats will ultimately vote for the measure.