Democrat Greg Hughes is “strongly considering” challenging fellow Texas Rep. Al Green in a primary this year, he told reporters Monday at a health care event hosted by the progressive group Democracy for America.
Hughes joined fellow liberal Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Deb Haaland of New Mexico, also considering runs for the seat, in criticizing Green’s public call for fellow Democrats to take a no-vote position on the bill.
“I have always prided myself for being a representative of my people,” Hughes said. “I’m not going to use my position in congress to prevent my constituents from having access to a choice in health care.”
The response from the Texas delegation — which remains firmly opposed to the Obamacare overhaul — illustrates the extent to which pushback from Democrats in red and purple districts is undermining establishment Democrats in their efforts to sell the infrastructure package.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had vowed that Democrats would turn up the heat on their own lawmakers in their home districts, increasing their campaign donations if they refused to vote for the bill.
But Democrats across the country are growing increasingly frustrated with the leadership’s strategy and the behind-the-scenes pushback from districts and states that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton last year.
“House Democrats cannot move forward with Speaker Paul Ryan’s assault on our health care and access to infrastructure improvements,” Sanders said Monday. “Democrats are going to change course, and I think Speaker Ryan is fully aware of what we are going to do.”
The vote is shaping up to be a high-profile test of moderates, progressives and the leadership’s ability to manage a divided House delegation as they negotiate a series of cuts and border security measures alongside the repeal of the individual mandate, a bipartisan legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security that Democrats oppose and the single-payer overhaul.
In a sign of the difficulty leaders are having in making a single-payer overhaul, nearly 10 progressive members of the caucus announced over the weekend that they’ll also oppose the legislation, which is set to be put to a vote later this week.
Top House Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Pelosi, have cast the bill as a necessary measure in order to keep the department’s funding but say it’s not the vehicle to deliver a single-payer overhaul.
They’ve told the Democratic caucus that they support the current infrastructure package and that it will improve upon the portions of the health care bill Republicans passed earlier this year. Pelosi has also argued that the bill helps Republicans politically by providing a vehicle to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that is viewed favorably by a majority of Democrats.
The notion that Democrats can pass an infrastructure bill if it’s not packaged with a full-blown single-payer overhaul have become increasingly cliche in recent weeks as Pelosi and the conference attempt to counter the pushback from members across the country.