House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke for five hours – and counting – Wednesday in support of legal protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants as she threatened to oppose a proposed bipartisan budget deal.
Pelosi took to the House floor in a filibuster-style speech to object to the fact that the agreement is not pegged to a bill to shield the immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. Earlier in the day, Pelosi said she and some of her caucus would not support the proposal unless she gets a commitment that House Speaker Paul Ryan will allow an open debate on immigration legislation.
In her hours-long speech, the 77-year-old Pelosi told personal stories about the young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children. As the minority leader, she can use as much floor time as she wants.
A lack of support from House Democrats could imperil an agreement to avoid the second partial government shutdown in a month. However, Pelosi, in a statement, did not signal how much of her caucus would vote against the deal.
The California Democrat said the spending plan includes "many Democratic priorities." However, she said she wanted Ryan, R-Wis., to commit to an open process on legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation before she supports the proposal.
"This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House," Pelosi said. "Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support."
Ryan has said House Republicans would bring an immigration measure to the floor only if it had the support of President Donald Trump, as well.
Pelosi appeared to be extending a hand to the wing of the party that wanted a quicker solution to DACA, which Trump ended in September with a six-month delay. Democrats initially pegged a deal to raise spending caps to an immigration bill, but Schumer at least has relented on that demand.
Senate leaders announced the two-year spending deal on Wednesday afternoon. It would increase current spending caps by roughly $300 billion, would include a major boost for military spending, with slightly smaller increases for domestic programs. It would also authorize funds for disaster aid, community health centers, the Children's Health Insurance Program and fighting the opioid crisis.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ryan said he supported the plan and urged other House members to do so. However, the conservative House Freedom Caucus signaled it would oppose the funding increases.
The potential Democratic opposition puts more pressure on the majority Republicans, who can pass a funding bill on their own in the House.