The worst member of the House Democratic caucus

And the award goes to … Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.

Ryan Grim and Sara Sirota describe why this barely-a-Democrat is so despised by his fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives and why the revolt he tried to organize to prevent the passage of measures that would help people in general but upset his corporate backers is likely to fail.

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES is often compared to a high school, and it’s a useful metaphor. Both have overlapping hierarchies that are at once defined and undefined, official and unofficial. There are official positions, like captain of the varsity basketball team or chair of the Ways and Means Committee, but there are also social hierarchies: who’s cool and who’s not; who has genuine power and who doesn’t.

Gottheimer and eight of his colleagues have been facing off with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., insisting in a letter sent last week that she bring the bipartisan package for a vote “immediately,” rather than holding it back as leverage to pass the bigger piece. The not-so-veiled goal is to strip progressives of the leverage they have to enact a big reconciliation package, making it more vulnerable to being cut down to size or stopped entirely. Gottheimer worries the larger legislation will mean painful tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy — many of whom have supported his political ambitions.

During a House Democratic leadership call on Sunday night, Pelosi mocked Gottheimer’s effort as “amateur hour,” pledging to push ahead despite his threats to stop the legislation. Pelosi is not known for miscounting votes, suggesting that she is confident that enough of Gottheimer’s eight co-dissenters will not stick with him; she’s known to work the phones relentlessly and leaves little to chance.

IN SOME RESPECTS, Democrats lucked out in the identity of the lead member of what’s been dubbed the “suicide squad.” Had the effort been organized by somebody less despised internally than Gottheimer, it may have gained more traction. “Josh Gottheimer continues his perfect streak of being the absolute worst member of the House Democratic caucus,” texted one member of Gottheimer’s business-friendly New Democrat Coalition. “A more likeable member could do more damage. But the fact that so many of my colleagues (and across the ideological spectrum mind you) consider him such [an unpopular figure] really does limit his influence.”

This article provides interesting reading for those who like the inside-baseball stuff of how political deals get made and how arms get twisted by the party leadership to get the votes they need. The phrase ‘seeing how how the sausage is made’ is often used about things where what goes on behind the scenes is so ugly that it turns you off the whole thing. It is frequently used to describe backroom dealing in politics which is quite different from the high-minded rhetoric used in public.


  1. Holms says

    ^ Will mnb0 finally acknowledge that there is a positive difference in electing Biden over Trump? Stay tuned! Probably not though.

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