A group of House Democrats who have been crossing the aisle on key votes over the past year have finally decided to go to the Dogs — the Blue Dogs, that is.
The coalition of fiscally conservative Dems has seen shrinking numbers in the past few years as members retire from Congress, sparking concern about the strength of moderates within the party.
Veteran congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has now joined the Blue Dogs, as well as Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Gabby Giffords’ former district director who served the remainder of her term after she resigned then won a full term in the last election cycle.
Two freshmen Dems are also now officially with the Dogs: Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
“Our newest members are a welcome addition to the Blue Dog Coalition,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Blue Dog co-chair for communications. “Their deep commitment to fiscal responsibility and reaching across the aisle when crafting public policy is just the sort of leadership we need to solve the problems facing our country.”
Schrader got into verbal fisticuffs with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough this week in a closed-door meeting with the New Democratic Coalition, a larger caucus of moderate Dems that has been growing faster than the Blue Dogs.
Schrader confirmed reports that when McDonough began rattling off talking points about Obamacare, he butted in to say that none of those mattered when his constituents were getting hit with higher health insurance costs and cancellations.
“I’m sure he knows best,” said Schrader, in a voice reportedly “dripping with sarcasm,” adding “I’m just a little country veterinarian from a small town in the great state of Oregon. So what do I know? I’m from a marginal district that they need to have that talks to people on a regular basis. Whatever.”
The Blue Dogs added two members last year, Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ind.) and Pete Gallego (D-Texas). Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) recently announced their retirements.
The four new members brings the coalition count to 19.