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Dems Who Voted Against Pelosi Hope for 'New Generation of Leadership,' Fiscal Responsibility

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and her daughters in the Capitol's House chamber before members were sworn in on the first day of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Two freshman Democratic members of Congress explained why they decided to vote against Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as speaker of the House.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) was asked to describe the reasoning behind his “no” vote as well as his greatest concern about Pelosi’s leadership going forward.

“A commitment is a commitment and I stood by it,” Golden said after a forum about H.R.1, the “For the People Act,” organized last week by End Citizens United (ECU) at the National Press Club. “At the end of the day, I called for a new generation of leadership, and that’s the simplest answer to your question right there. When I make a promise to the people back home, I’m going to keep it – that’s it.”

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who has joined the centrist New Democrat Coalition and the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, shared a similar rationale for her vote against Pelosi.

“So I was very clear for months that I would not be casting my vote for her and I followed through on that, but I’m really excited that with so many new members of Congress we’re going to be able to impact, bit by bit or leap by leap, some of the changes that we think are really important. And campaign finance reform is a perfect example,” she said. “As candidates we signed onto a letter, many of us were leaders on the letter, trying to ensure that we were highlighting this as people were out campaigning in really competitive districts, as we were listening to voters and listening to what’s important.”

Spanberger was asked if she thinks the Blue Dog Coalition would be able to convince the Democratic caucus to reduce federal spending as the nation’s deficit continues to rise.

“I joined the New Dems and I joined the Blue Dogs and the primary reasons are that when we are on a solid financial trajectory that is beneficial to the country, that is beneficial to subsequent generations when we are watching out for our national security, so those are the two primary focus areas for Blue Dogs, you know. Everything else is moving in the right direction and so I will continue to be an advocate for ensuring that we are looking out for the long-range safety and security, and a lot of that is economic security of our country,” Spanberger said.

“And the more exciting proposals we want to look at that will really positively impact people’s lives, we have to ensure that we have set the positive foundation for our economic stability if we’re going to be able to pursue really powerful changes that can really impact in a great way people’s lives from the time they are little kids to the time they are moving into retirement,” she added.

When asked about the best way to reduce the deficit, Spanberger told PJM she plans to push Congress to “stop cutting revenues” and have “honest discussions” about the country’s values and where the government could “proactively and preventatively spend our dollars.”

She called on the new Congress to search for the best areas for investment rather than cut taxes for “select groups of people” and for large corporations.

“It’s not an easy answer,” she said, regarding ways to significantly decrease the deficit.

Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) were not available for interviews after the forum on the “For the People Act.” During the discussion about the bill, Crow, who took a “no corporate PAC pledge,” said he had attended or hosted close to 400 events during the campaign and met many voters who were skeptical about the nation’s political system.

“What I was encountering from day one was this sense in the community that the system was rigged,” Crow said. “I would show up and people would say, you know, ‘It doesn’t really matter whether you are a Democrat or Republican, none of that matters anymore, you are all the same. It’s all rigged and my vote doesn’t matter.’ And hearing that over and over again, I couldn’t help but think back to my time in Iraq and something similar I heard when I was in Baghdad and leading soldiers.”

Crow said there was an issue with a community leader in Baghdad and he recalled telling the leader that he should go to the local judge.

“He looked at me and he said, ‘Well, why? The system is rigged. I won’t get any response,’” Crow said. “I said, ‘Well, we’re better than this.’ But this is the way the community feels and they feel that way for a good reason, so we decided really early on that we have to go the root of the problem and we have to think big and change the [U.S. political] system.”

Delgado said the U.S. political system is often not responsive to the “will of the people” due to dark money in politics.

“When you fear the loss of healthcare, when you feel as if you are not being heard, you have concrete examples of how it’s manifesting itself, I think leadership is about making that connection and making it plain as day,” he said.