Conservative group targets moderate Dems for helping advance $3.5T budget

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GOP group targets moderate Dems for helping advance $3.5T budget

A leading conservative advocacy group is taking aim at New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer and another prominent moderate Democratic pol for voting to advance the proposed $3.5 trillion Biden budget, paving the way for a sweeping social spending bill.

The American Action Network told The Post it has put Gottheimer and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) in its crosshairs as part of a $5 million general ad blitz targeting Dems.

Gottheimer, co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, had led a group of nine centrist members in a dayslong standoff with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), seeking to push for a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of the budget framework.

Then he and the group struck a deal with Pelosi and her camp, agreeing to support the budget blueprint first, as long as the leadership guaranteed a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan before Sept. 27.

The budget blueprint allows Democrats to move forward with the reconciliation process to bypass the need for Republican support in the Senate on a not-yet-written bill to address some of the Biden administration’s biggest priorities, including immigration reform, climate change and the expansion of social programs. 

Murphy, who helped Gottheimer lead the coalition, had even written an op-ed in Florida’s Orlando Sentinel asserting that infrastructure should be addressed first — then flipped the next day.

Republicans consider the House pair politically vulnerable: Gottheimer represents a slightly Republican-leaning district, while Murphy is from a little more Democratic-leaning area.

GOP lawmakers said they hope to seize on the pair’s support for the spending bill to woo away voters, as Republicans work to regain a congressional majority in the November 2022 midterms.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.)
The American Action Network has also targeted Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.).
AP

Critics accuse the lawmakers of caving to the left and opening the door to partisan legislation that foes believe will increase the deficit and further exacerbate inflation.

The ads accuse the two lawmakers of having “sold out” to “advance Pelosi’s socialist wish list.” AAN encourages individuals to call the pols’ offices to urge that they vote against the final legislation, which has not yet been crafted, later this year. 

“Stephanie Murphy and Josh Gottheimer betrayed the promises they made to their constituents — and now they have to answer for it,” AAN president Dan Conston said in a statement. 

“This bill will raise taxes, heighten inflation, and make life less expensive for working families, all to fund Pelosi’s far-left political agenda,” Conston said of the budget package. “If these so-called ‘moderates’ want to show their promises to stand up to Pelosi were anything more than a hollow act, then they need to vote no when it comes back for a final vote.”

It’s unclear whether the targeted lawmakers will ultimately vote in favor of the so-called reconciliation bill, but a number of moderates, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), have expressed reservations about its level of spending. The proposed legislation is facing a number of hurdles as Democratic leaders look to pass both the infrastructure and social spending bills before the end of the year.  

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