Blue Dogs Seek to Delay Democratic Budget Plan After Their PAC Takes Millions From Corporate America

The House Blue Dog PAC has received donations from pharmaceutical giants, health care companies, and the fossil fuel industry this year as many of its members seek to delay a vote on the Democrats’ budget plan.

Blue Dogs Seek to Delay Democratic Budget Plan After Their PAC Takes Millions From Corporate America
Former Blue Dog Rep. Kurt Schrader speaks to the crowd at a groundbreaking ceremony in 2013.

The Democratic budget resolution being voted on today in the U.S. Senate calls for the largest investments in decades in health care and clean energy—spending that was fought for years by large corporations and their lobbying groups.

The resolution from Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders is accompanied by reconciliation instructions calling on committees to put forward drug price-lowering measures fought by the pharmaceutical lobby, Medicare expansion opposed by the health insurance companies, decarbonization steps resisted by the fossil fuel industry, and corporate tax levels battled by the behemoth business lobby. Under special rules for legislation impacting spending and revenues, these measures would be put forward in an omnibus reconciliation package that would be protected from filibusters.

Next, the $3.5 trillion budget resolution and a smaller, roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill will head from the Senate to the House, where conservative and progressive Democrats are in a brewing standoff over the sequencing of the votes. Conservative Democrats want to quickly pass the infrastructure bill on its own, while progressives say they will only consider voting for the infrastructure bill after the House passes the reconciliation package.

Business lobbies have allies in a group of nine moderate House Democrats, who in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised concerns over the spending levels proposed in the budget resolution and called to delay a vote on its passage.

The nine Democrats signing the letter represent overlapping groups of House moderates. Seven of them are current members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition: co-chair Rep. Ed Case, with Reps. Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Jared Golden, Vincente González, Josh Gottheimer, and Kurt Schrader. Signer Filemon Vela, a leading critic of Speaker Pelosi in years past, recently left the Blue Dog Coalition after joining in 2015. The three Texas Democrats—Reps. Cuellar, González, and Vela—were among the founding members of the Congressional Oil and Gas Caucus in 2017.

The ninth signer, Rep. Susie Lee, is a member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, which counts 95 members out of the 220 Democrats now in the U.S. House, including all of the above-mentioned Blue Dogs save for Rep. Golden of Maine. Update, Friday Aug. 13, 12pm ET: a new version of the letter from House moderates has the signature of Blue Dog member Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, but not Rep. Susie Lee.