Liberal voters push Democrats to a new nuclear age

Bernie Sanders filibuster Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court sotu_00000000
Bernie Sanders filibuster Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court sotu_00000000

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Story highlights

  • Progressives are demanding total opposition to Trump
  • Democratic lawmakers are under intense pressure not to give an inch

Washington (CNN)Spurned on health care by hard-line Republicans, President Donald Trump's White House is now looking for Democratic assistance to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, advance a massive new infrastructure investment and fund the government.

The Democratic base doesn't want any part of it.
Buoyed by its initial victory on health care, Democrats are interested in using the improved bargaining position that the party's House and Senate members suddenly find themselves in.
    Instead, progressives are continuing to demand total opposition to Trump.
    With the confirmation fight over Gorsuch and a deadline to fund the government both looming, Democratic lawmakers are under intense pressure not to give an inch, even if that means forcing what could be a losing battle over the filibuster in the Senate.
    Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-California, said Tuesday that the party's constituencies feel "energized" and "emboldened" now that Republicans have failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and believe they can hamstring Trump for the duration of his presidency.
    "If he were a TV show, I think he would be canceled for next season," Sanchez said of Trump.
    An epic clash between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, looms over the Gorsuch confirmation battle.
    If Democrats don't supply at least eight votes to get Gorsuch over the 60-vote threshold, McConnell is likely to invoke the "nuclear option" -- removing Democrats' ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees.
    As of Tuesday night, 26 Democrats have said or suggested they will filibuster Trump's nominee, according to CNN's tally.
    But liberal groups aren't concerned about losing that potential leverage for future confirmation fights.
    The Progressive Change Campaign Committee sent a letter to members in Vermont this week criticizing Sen. Patrick Leahy over what the group called "squishy comments" about confirming Gorsuch. He'd said he is "not inclined to filibuster" Gorsuch.
    It's not just Gorsuch. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Monday sent a letter to House budget-writers urging them to reject Trump's request for border wall funding as a deadline to fund the government and avert a shutdown draws closer -- signaling that any effort to implement a key Trump campaign promise could trigger another major battle.
    "Across issues, the Republican agenda represents handouts to giant corporations and the rich while a populist progressive agenda fights for the little guy," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. Those are two completely opposite directions, and Trump has broken his campaign promises by running full-steam toward corporate welfare over and over again."

    Outreach from Trump?

    On health care, Trump has predicted Obamacare will ultimately collapse and that Democrats will seek to strike a bargain with him.
    Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, the Democratic caucus chair, said he is unaware of any direct outreach from Trump's White House to House Democrats.
    "If the President is serious about working with Democrats, he has to completely revamp the way he has conducted himself in office so far," he said.
    Before working on health care changes, Democrats say Republicans first need to take the party's longstanding desire to repeal the law off the table.
    "We're at the table. We're ready to negotiate. We just need them to abandon the purely political attacks on Obamacare," Crowley said.
    Left-leaning groups also say they don't buy the sincerity of Trump's desire to work with Democrats.
    "Trump and the GOP have done nothing to indicate they are legitimately interested in working with Democrats on bipartisan solutions that would benefit the American people," said MoveOn.org national spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.
    "If Trump wants to endorse progressive ideas like Medicare for All and massive government investments without corporate giveaways -- in a way that unites populist progressives, Democrats, and a minimal handful of swing-district Republicans -- that would be a fantasy world that is not going to happen," he said.
    Democrats are suggesting they'll work with Trump only if he fully embraces their ideas -- an unlikely prospect.
    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California sent fellow party members a letter Tuesday congratulating them on their health care victory and soliciting ideas to improve Obamacare.
    "It would be my hope to create a list of priorities to engage with our colleagues, with social media and advocacy groups," she said, "and perhaps even with the President."