House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) set a new record for the longest speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, when she spoke for eight hours and seven minutes on behalf of “Dreamers.”
But Politico’s Heather Caygle reports that many Democrats in her caucus are privately irritated by what they are calling a “stunt” that did nothing for illegal aliens, while handing Republicans an issue to attack them with in November.
In interviews will [sic] nearly a dozen House Democrats, many who requested anonymity to speak candidly, several called the speech an attempt by Pelosi to shore up support with the progressive base angry by congressional inaction on Dreamers.
“I’m not sure it was a net positive or a net negative. It was probably neutral,” said one Hispanic lawmaker.
“This stunt … had nothing to do with protecting vulnerable members who have to take a difficult vote,” said one moderate lawmaker who asked not to be named. “Working out this deal and then saying she’s not going to vote for it? Come on. She was at the table.”
All House Democrats are supportive of Dreamers. But several members, particularly centrists, are wary of using the immigration issue as a campaign cudgel, worried it could derail Democrats’ chances of taking back the House.
Some Democrats, Caygle notes, were openly supportive of Pelosi’s stand, even if it was only symbolic. But some, like Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), who is retiring after this year, were not shy to criticize her. “There’s all kinds of ways, I assure you, that leadership exercises its influence — the least of which is a floor speech,” he told Politico.
The House Minority Leaders’s speech put her formally at odds with Democrats in the Senate, who had just agreed to the budget deal that Pelosi blasted from the House floor because it did not include provisions on immigration.
Pelosi also managed to muddle the party’s immigration message. After praising the “Dreamers” — those brought to the country as children through “no fault of their own” — Pelosi thanked their parents for breaking immigration law.