Obama Ignoring House Democrats In Budget Talks, Again

When the Obama White House made a deal last December to extend the Bush tax cuts during Congress’s lame duck session, there were many Democrats who complained that the White House had completely ignored them and cut them out of negotiations. As we get closer and closer to the August 2nd debt ceiling deadline, it seems as though that’s happening again:

House Democrats feel like jilted lovers.

They’re looking down Pennsylvania Avenue for some sign of affection from President Obama in the White House. But all they feel they’re getting in return is the back of his hand.

“How is it that the House Democrats played such an important role [in the majority], and all of a sudden [the White House says], ‘Forget it, we’ll work with the Senate and the Republican leadership?’ ” asked Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), vice chairman of the Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee.

House Democrats’ frustration with Obama is boiling in the intense heat of negotiations to reach a budget deal and raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Capitol Hill Democrats have been steaming for months, since being sidelined during talks to extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates and fund the government this year. Many say the White House takes their support for granted but ignores them when it comes to making policy.

“Before this year we were playing a strong role,” said Cuellar, but “now a lot of us feel like we’re almost being ignored.”

A fellow Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Capitol Hill Democrats called months ago for oil to be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gasoline prices, but the president waited until last week to do it.

The lawmaker called the White House “obtuse” and added, “I’m disappointed in their politics.”

The frustration “seems to be growing” with “senior members of the caucus … shaking their heads,” the lawmaker said.

The answer, of course, is that the White House knows that the House Democratic Caucus is pretty much irrelevant at this point in time. Nothing will pass the House without significant Republican support, and the Senate is so nearly evenly divided that you’ve got to include both sides. Once you’ve got a deal, there will always been enough hardcore loyalists in the Democratic caucus to vote “yes” along with the House GOP to get the bill passed.

Welcome to the minority, guys.


FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    They’re legislatively irrelevant, yes, but certainly they’re not politically irrelevant. Keep in mind the extreme concentrations of (inherited) wealth in districts being represented by the likes of Nancy, Steny, Barney and Co.

  2. mantis says:

    I love a guy who picks “Tsar Nicholas II” as his name whining about “inherited wealth.”

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    Anyway, Democrats whine. It’s in their blood. Yes, Obama could spend all his time “negotiating” with House democrats, and when he finally gets them on board, nothing will happen because the lockstep Republicans run the chamber. No, that wouldn’t be a waste of time at all!

  3. I love a guy who picks “Tsar Nicholas II” as his name whining about “inherited wealth.”

    Especially since I’m sure he’s opposed to inheritance taxes.