Showdown

Nancy Pelosi Plays Hardball On Cromnibus

Nancy Pelosi urged Democrats to vote against the controversial cromnibus Thursday setting the stage for a potential government shutdown.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

In a letter sent out to Democratic members on Thursday afternoon, Nancy Pelosi indicated she would play hardball on Democratic support for the cromnibus, the budget bill to fund the government for the next year. However, while making clear her strong opposition to the bill and encouraging colleagues to vote against, she took pains not to directly whip members on the controversial legislation, which has been backed by the White House. In a rather passive aggressive letter, the House Minority Leader wrote.

It is clear from this recess on the floor that the Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the CRomnibus. This increases our leverage to get two offensive provisions of the bill removed: the bank bailout and big money for campaigns provision.

However you decide to vote in the end, I thank those who continue to give us leverage to improve the bill.

Pelosi's letter was released just an hour after a scheduled vote on final passage of the cromnibus was cancelled in the House by Republican leadership. This came after a procedural vote on the legislation passed only after a Republican backbencher, Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, decided to support the bill at the last minute after initially voting against it.

Despite the support of both the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, relatively few Democrats are expected to support the bill on final passage. (Not one Democrat supported it on the procedural vote earlier Thursday afternoon). The opposition comes from Democrats upset the the bill contains riders roling back the landmark Dodd Frank Act on financial reform as well as raising the maximum amount that donors can give to political parties. In addition, because House Democrats were cut out of the negotiations over the bill, they don't feel any incentive to play ball. As Representive Elijah Cummings of Maryland told reporters earlier today "I didn't have nothing to do with that [the negotiations over the cromnibus]. We're in the House. I don't care what they did in the Senate."

The Democrats matter because a significant number of Republicans are expected to oppose the bill because it does nothing to defund President Obama's executive order on immigration that was issued in November. As a result, it's likely that the GOP will need around 50 Democrats to break ranks and support the cromnibus for it to pass. But it seems unlikely Democrats will do so without any changes. After all, even though Obama is for the bill, his active support doesn't mean much to most Democratic congressmen compared to Nancy Pelosi's passive aggressive opposition.