Nancy Pelosi’s marathon House floor speech looks like it was mostly for show

Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi.
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  • Nancy Pelosi mounted a record eight-hour speech on the House floor to push for inclusion of an immigration vote in budget negotiations.
  • But Democrats were not actively whipping votes against the bipartisan Senate plan, leaving the prospect of party unity up in the air.

WASHINGTON – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi used a rare procedural privilege to mount a filibuster-esque speech for more than eight hours on the House floor on Wednesday, demanding that the Republican majority permit a vote on legislation to address the soon-expiring program for a class of young unauthorized immigrants.

But Pelosi’s marathon floor speech was not accompanied by a vigorous whipping campaign to unite Democrats against the bipartisan compromise that Senate leaders, the White House, and House Speaker Paul Ryan have coalesced around to keep the government open beyond the deadline at the end of Thursday.

“I think the fact that you have not heard from the Democratic Party, the Democratic caucus, from Democratic Party offices, you would think that there’d be hashtags galore supporting this effort – this unprecedented effort from Nancy Pelosi,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez told reporters on Wednesday. “But it’s not a coordinated effort, is it? So it makes me fearful that tomorrow the reason there isn’t a coordinated effort is that nobody wants to show their hand.”

Because many conservative Republicans have come out against the budget compromise, a significant portion of Democrats may be needed to ensure its passage in the House.

Gutierrez added that he was thankful for Pelosi’s speech in support of immigrants protected by the soon-to-expire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and her demand to give their plight a vote but that he was not sure what the outcome would be in a formal caucus meeting.

Democratic Rep. John Delaney of Maryland told Business Insider that there was no specific whipping against the plan, which does not guarantee any action to extend protection for DACA recipients, but that there would be “a lot of discussion” when House Democrats gathered later in the evening.

Delaney, who said Democrats had zero appetite for another government shutdown like the three-day saga last month, said the purpose of Pelosi’s floor speech was to point out “that Paul Ryan hasn’t done the right thing, which is to say that we should have a debate on immigration.”

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio told Business Insider that while he thought Pelosi’s speech was warranted and the right cause, it was unclear whether moderate members looking to avoid a shutdown would hold the line.

As for whether the speech “sways people one way or the other on their vote, I’m not sure it will,” he said.