Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, said, “We are really, truly creating a whole generation of children that won’t forget what we did.”
But the House Democrats’ left flank was defeated by the party’s moderates. Opposition from the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and several lawmakers from Republican-leaning districts had forced House Democrats to delay a vote to bring up their measure in an embarrassing display of disarray. Moderate Democrats had threatened to vote against the rule for debate on the modified bill, a show of disloyalty to the leadership that is almost unheard-of under Ms. Pelosi.
“They are melting down, in disarray, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to do,” crowed Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican. “There’s a bipartisan bill to solve a crisis. Everybody in this town knows the Senate bill is going to pass. Everybody knows how it’s going to end.”
Moderate Democrats privately told House Democratic leaders that they were wary of supporting a bill that provided less money for ICE that could later be used against them in their re-election campaigns to portray them as weak on immigration enforcement, according to two lawmakers and several aides familiar with the discussions who described them on the condition of anonymity.
The squabbling grew intense on the House floor on Thursday afternoon, as a scrum of the moderate members huddled in tense discussion about how to proceed. At least one, Representative Abigail Spanberger, Democrat of Virginia, grew visibly emotional and at one point stormed out red-faced, barking at a reporter who tried to interview her: “I do not want to talk!”
The legislation has posed a tricky political test for Ms. Pelosi, whose caucus has been deeply divided by it. Liberals, including some Hispanic lawmakers, balked at the bill this week because they feared it would only enable Mr. Trump’s harsh immigration tactics by funding the very agencies that have carried them out. They threatened to withhold their votes, insisting on adding new restrictions and stiffer standards for facilities that house migrant children, as well as more conditions on how the funding would be spent. In the end, almost every Democrat supported the resulting House bill.
But on Thursday, another proposed change, an $81 million cut for ICE, set off a brush fire on the right of the caucus.
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