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Centrist Josh Gottheimer becoming prime House target of progressive wrath

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Progressive Democrats have found a centrist House counterpart to Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia who provokes frustration with his opposition to rushing through sweeping legislation.

New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, is leading a group of nine centrist Democrats pressing the House to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act before taking action on Democrats’ $3.5 trillion go-it-alone budget reconciliation blueprint that is set to include a slew of left-wing priorities, such as universal preschool and a pathway to citizenship for millions.

Final details of the budget blueprint are not final, and Gottheimer doesn’t want to wait around for it to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

“This could take many months to get a final reconciliation package done. That’s a risky move when you have so many jobs on the line and obviously a real need for infrastructure,” Gottheimer told Punchbowl News this week. “I don’t understand why we would hold it up.”

PELOSI MOVES TO ADVANCE BIPARTISAN BILL ALONGSIDE $3.5T PLAN DESPITE OPPOSITION

A fundraising email from Justice Democrats, the PAC that backed “Squad” members like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri, slammed Gottheimer.

“He’s being celebrated right now by the worst of the political establishment for leading an effort to block new investments in child care, paid family leave, Medicare, and fighting the climate crisis,” said the Justice Democrats fundraising email sent Friday.

Progressive environmentalist group Evergreen Action is also displeased with the centrists’ stance, specifically mentioning Gottheimer.

“The nine Democrats threatening to derail the budget resolution cannot call themselves Biden Democrats while blocking President Biden’s agenda,” the group’s executive director Jamal Raad said in a statement Friday.

A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and presidential campaign adviser for John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2008, Gottheimer has a long history in Democratic politics as a staff member before winning his northern New Jersey congressional seat in 2016. Though highly credentialed — Gottheimer's resume also includes degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School — he has been attacked for being ranked the most conservative Democrat in the House, according to GovTrack’s ideology score.

In a move that pleased the far-left wing of her party and ruffled the feathers of centrists, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi long pledged not to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate also sent the House Democrats’ $3.5 trillion go-it-alone budget reconciliation blueprint. The Senate passed both earlier this month, and the House will return early from its August recess on Monday to take action on the two bills.

Gottheimer led a group of nine more centrists in a letter pushing back at a dual plan, saying they “will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law.”

Pelosi then announced a plan to advance both bills together in a single rule vote, putting them both on the path for separate final passage votes. The nine Democrats reiterated their position, setting up the possibility for blocking the advancement of both bills if at least three of the Democrats and all Republicans vote against the rule, annoying Democratic leaders.

"This is no time for amateur hour," Pelosi reportedly said in a call Monday, taking a swipe at the group of nine. “There is no way we can pass those bills unless we do so in the order that we originally planned.”

In a statement on Friday, Gottheimer indicated he intends to support the budget reconciliation resolution. But not all nine feel the same, with Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon telling the Washington Examiner he “absolutely” would vote against the budget blueprint if Pelosi sticks with her plan.

“The nine Democrats threatening to derail the budget resolution cannot call themselves Biden Democrats while blocking President Biden’s agenda,” said Radd of Evergreen Action.

However, the threat Gottheimer poses to the left-wing is not so much he could block the reconciliation plan, but that centrist influence could lessen its size and scope as committees finalize its details.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Gottheimer called the $3.5 trillion number “aggressive.” Sinema and Manchin in the Senate have also expressed concern about the price tag, setting up a high likelihood the final spending number is lower than Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders’s original proposal.

Gottheimer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Tags: News, House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, Infrastructure, progressives

Original Author: Emily Brooks

Original Location: Centrist Josh Gottheimer becoming prime House target of progressive wrath

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