An upstate Democratic lawmaker who signed a letter opposing Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid to be House speaker did an about-face Wednesday and said he would back her after all.
Buffalo Rep. Brian Higgins said he changed his mind after getting an “agreement in principle” that Democrats would undertake a “serious good faith effort” to advance legislation lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50 along with a trillion-dollar infrastructure spending plan, The Washington Post reported.
Until he abruptly changed course, Higgins had been harshly critical of the veteran California Democrat, saying she made it tough on moderate Democrats in districts that leaned red.
But he said he changed his mind after huddling with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other top party members.
“There’s no alternative right now and there’s not going to be one,” he said.
“And in the event this breaks down on the floor, somebody could grab the speakership that really doesn’t deserve it.”
Higgins’ reversal came a day after Pelosi won the backing of another Democratic critic, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who had been mulling a run for the speaker’s job.
Party leaders rewarded her newfound loyalty by giving her a chairmanship role on a subcommittee on elections.
With Higgins jumping ship, just 15 lawmakers who signed an anti-Pelosi letter remained opposed — but many faced pushback from constituents and liberal groups.
MoveOn spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy warned the anti-Pelosi faction would pay a price at the polls.
“If right-wing Democrats end up helping Republicans by voting against Nancy Pelosi as speaker, they can expect to face serious backlash from the same energized and mobilized base of progressive voters that just brought Democrats a majority in the House, which certainly could extend to primaries,” Ganapathy told Vox.
And Democratic activists protested outside Rep. Seth Moulton’s town hall meeting in Amesbury, Massachusetts, this week over his opposition to Pelosi, the Boston Herald reported.
“This is a betrayal of our trust,” said co-organizer Bambi Snodgrass of Topsfield, who said she had campaigned for Moulton before.
“The least he can do is put aside his petty, self-serving desires and ambitions and work with the most qualified person to serve as speaker of the House.”