It’s already Speaker Ocasio-Cortez – Washington Examiner
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., floated the idea of dramatically changing the way the House works. Having lost two recent votes known as “motions to recommit” — minor votes, but stinging for any House leader — she basically wants to prevent the House minority from its traditional right to force votes to change legislation before it passes.
This is a terrible, cynical idea which, had it been in place for the last 25 years, would have silenced House Democrats almost the entire time. But more importantly, it’s an idea that Pelosi is only considering because it’s easier than actually asserting control of her own party in Congress — which, if you haven’t noticed, she has nearly lost to a politically artless but media-savvy House freshman after less than two months.
The rules of the U.S. House, unlike those of the Senate, give the minority party few rights. It cannot stop or even meaningfully delay legislation on which the majority party is intent. But one thing the minority has always been able to do is force a couple of protest votes at the end of the process that put the majority on the spot. On the rare occasions where these motions to recommit succeed, they send bills back to committee for specific changes.
After losing two such votes on gun rights because dozens of Democrats defected, Pelosi is considering abolishing one of the very few rights that the House minority has. That she would even consider this is rather surprising, given her historical respect for the speakership and the House as an institution.
But it is less surprising given the weakened position in which she now finds herself.
To be sure, Democrats’ numerical majority in Congress is solid. Yet from Southern California to Maine, from Iowa to Texas, and from downstate Virginia to upstate New York, the party’s 2018 House takeover depended on wins in competitive, Republican-leaning districts in rural and suburban areas all over the country. A whole class of vulnerable freshman Democrats entered Congress this year with the understanding that they needed to project a moderate image back home and maintain voter support.
Yet to their horror, the party’s most visible and apparently most powerful figure turns out to be not the speaker they elected, but rather, a member of the party’s socialist cuckoo-bird wing.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is now setting the Democratic agenda in both houses of Congress. You don’t believe us? Witness how, with the aid of a friendly media that seems to enjoy her ignorant tongue-lashings as much as it bristles at President Trump’s, Ocasio-Cortez lured six Democratic senators running for president into a trap that could well cost the party their White House. They committed to her insane, embarrassingly half-baked Green New Deal proposal and will soon be forced to vote for a resolution supporting it.
In the House, things are just as bad. On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez was giving orders to House Democrats behind closed doors on how they are to vote, lest they face a primary challenge next year backed by her wealthy chief-of-staff and his super PAC.
This should all convey some idea of why Ocasio-Cortez has become Republicans’ favorite Democrat to talk about. She’s wreaking havoc on her party’s cohesion and destroying its palatability for voters. Cynical Republicans would like to make sure her voice is heard. But in fact, her radical politics is going to harm the country and has already proven ruinous for the people living in her own district.
For potentially vulnerable Democrats, the unfolding radicalization of the congressional Democratic Party is scaring the hell out of voters back home. They feel forced to prove that they’re independent and put their constituents’ interests ahead of their party’s on key issues like gun rights. That’s why they feel even more compelled to vote against their party on motions to recommit.
Pelosi could rein in Speaker Ocasio-Cortez, but so far she is unwilling, perhaps scared by her popularity on the Left. And so, Pelosi’s only other option is to protect her vulnerable members from even having to take difficult votes, like the ones Republicans can currently force with motions to recommit. After all, you can’t lose if you don’t let the other side play.
Speaker Pelosi, instead of wounding the House as an institution with this cynical power grab, please get control of your party. Stop coddling and empowering crazies in safe, Democratic districts at the expense of the marginal voters and members whom you know you need to remain a governing party. Make it clear to showboat freshmen that they too can face repercussions if they work to endanger their party colleagues.
Otherwise, beware. You let others usurp your role at your own risk.