A group of “centrist” donors spent millions to protect some of the most vulnerable House Republicans in the 2018 election, but now is pushing to dictate the terms of who House Democrats pick to lead their new majority.
The No Labels super PAC, an outside group funded heavily by rich Chicago mega-donors, spent more than $2.5 million in the 2018 campaign to buck up vulnerable House Republicans hoping to retain their positions in the face of the blue wave. Several vulnerable GOP incumbents held on, thanks in part to this group’s largess. The biggest beneficiary, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), narrowly won after the group spent nearly $600,000 to help re-elect him, though six-figure “independent expenditures” for Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida ($436,965), Leonard Lance of New Jersey ($420,712), and Mike Coffman of Colorado ($369,935) were not enough to save their seats.
The super PAC reported spending only about half as much (just over $1.25 million) in support of centrist House Democrats.
Now, after impeding the new Democratic majority and helping to limit the size of its majority, No Labels wants to condition which Democrat gets lead the House on a series of House rule changes designed to limit the majority’s power. The group is trying to demand that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or any other candidate for Speaker of the House agree to a “Break the Gridlock” package being offered by its Congressional arm, the Problem Solvers Caucus.
The package includes changes that would make it easier to remove a Speaker of the House mid-term, would put more members of the minority party on House committees, and would give the minority more power to demand votes on amendments to legislation.
Although the Problem Solvers Caucus for the current 115th Congress claimed “48 members — equally divided between Democrats and Republicans — who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues,” the 24 Republicans did not hold together to require any moderation or problem solving. Had they insisted on these rules in the current Congress, they had the votes to force Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to make those changes, but never did. Now, after spending heavily to deny the Democrats the majority, No Labels seeks to hold them to a different standard.
According to the No Labels website, nine Democratic “Problem Solvers” have suggested they will withhold their support for Pelosi unless she agrees to their demands. No Labels is actively pushing for more members of the group to use their clout to force the changes through. Regardless of the merits of their ideas, it seems odd that the people who spent millions to deny the Democrats the majority now feel entitled to a veto over who will lead it.