Is DCCC chief Steve Israel telling House Dems to vote against Dem budgets?

Another quick one while I work on something longer. Last week the House voted on a number of budgets — the Senate budget bill, the House Progressive “Back to Work” budget, the Congressional Black Caucus budget, and the Paul Ryan budget. All but the Ryan budget failed, of course. But the list of voters within the roll calls is interesting. And studying those, Howie Klein at DownWithTyranny makes a great catch.

His post is well worth a read, but I want to pull out just this piece — Steve Israel, Pelosi’s hand-picked DCCC chair, has been telling freshman and “vulnerable” Democrats in the House to vote with Republicans. Get that? A member of the House Dem leadership is whipping Dems to vote against Dem-proposed bills.

Klein (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

Wednesday evening, we took a quick look at the House vote on the Progressive Caucus Back To Work Budget. Wednesday the House also voted on the Senate budget. … Every Republican voted against it… and it failed 154-261. The Democratic caucus operation is a near-shambles and no one was leading. …

[But] Many of them– the freshmen and vulnerable members in red-leaning districts, were counseled by Steve Israel, chairman of the DCCC, to vote with the Republicans. He does that kind of thing; it’s a losing strategy that causes low Democratic turnout. It killed the Democrats in 2010… but Israel has learned nothing from the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse.

Among the Democrats who voted against the Senate budget are these 20 Democrats on the DCCC Frontline List, represented the seats Israel sees as the most vulnerable in 2014:

• Ron Barber (New Dem-AZ)
John Barrow (Blue Dog/New Dem-GA)
Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
• Julia Brownley (CA)
• Cheri Bustos (IL)
Bill Enyart (IL)
Pete Gallego (Blue Dog-TX)
Joe Garcia (New Dem-FL)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)
• Ann McLane Kuster (NH)
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY)
• Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog/New Dem-NC)
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
• Bill Owens (New Dem-NY)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Raul Ruiz (CA)
Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL)
Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ)

Only half a dozen Frontline Democrats ignored Israel and voted for the Senate budget, Tim Bishop (NY), Lois Capps (CA), Suzan DelBene (WA), Elizabeth Esty (CT), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), and John Tierney (MA).

The Hill [link here] claims “House Democrats were instructed to vote for the Senate Democratic budget,” but I [Klein] heard from several Members that Steve Israel was urging “vulnerable” incumbents to vote against it.

Blue Dog Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) said he voted against the Senate budget because it did not go far enough on entitlements.

“It is not enough entitlement reform in there going forward. It needs to be a more complete and balanced picture and it wasn’t bipartisan in the end of the day,” Schrader told The Hill.

We wrote about that Frontline list here, the list of Dems who will get “extra help” from the DCCC in their House races in 2014. This is the second vote this year for which the following statement is true (the first being the minimum wage bill):

When you give money to the DCCC, they give lots of it to people who vote with Republicans. And they protect Republicans like Paul Ryan, whom they pretend to hate. And again, Nancy Pelosi put Israel where he is, twice.

By the way, that phrase of Schrader’s — “wasn’t bipartisan” — could well be the messaging “cover story” from the Steve Israels of the world. It would be if I were Israel. You certainly hear it a lot from people on that list as their reason for voting with Boehner and against the rest of the Dems. For example …

Is that Ann Kuster’s name in the anti–Dem budgets vote list?

Sure looks like it. We talked about Ann Kuster earlier — lauded as a progressive hero (look for “bold progressive fighter”) as a candidate— and yet “bold” Ann Kuster voted with Republicans and for derivatives deregulation. She also made Klein’s list of R-voting Dems above. Here’s Ann Kuster a few days ago on, yep, bipartisanship:

Ann_Kuster_02-26-2013 Floor Statement.png_0Kuster’s remarks repeated her theme of working across aisles in a bi-partisan manner, which was well received by the business oriented audience of 60 people. Describing herself as a “frugal Yankee” who was “born bi-partisan,” Kuster said, “There’s no question in my mind that we do need to cut spending.”

“No question we do need to cut spending.” That’s certainly bipartisan, in the sense that the leaders of both parties are agreed; they all want to cut the safety net.

Ann Kuster also brags about voting with Boehner:

Kuster said she thinks she has a 100 percent voting record with Speaker John Boehner …

Obviously some of those votes were easy (the VAWA, for example), but the phrasing … has some Steve Israel been whispering in her shell-like ear? Certainly seems like it. If not, she got the phone call that said “wear ‘bipartisan’ to high school today.” I suspect there will be much more disappointment from Ann “Bipartisan” Kuster.

Don’t like it? That phone number again is:

Ann Kuster (NH-02) — 202-225-5206

In case you decide to do something about it. Operators are waiting.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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