Shades of 2010? Passing partisan $3.5T budget plan could put Democrats' slim House edge at risk

After taking a tough vote on Obamacare, which garnered zero votes from Republicans, Democrats lost the House majority in the 2010 midterm elections.

Updated: August 13, 2021 - 11:03pm

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed that the she won't allow a vote on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill until a partisan, filibuster-proof $3.5 trillion budget resolution is passed — which could undercut moderate Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections and put the party's slim House majority at risk.

Moderate Democrats are calling for Pelosi to allow a straight up or down vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill before the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation resolution, which consists of new social programs such as tuition-free community college, universal pre-K, support for child care and Medicaid expansion.

Using budget reconciliation allows the resolution to pass with every Democratic vote in the Senate, plus Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. It would pass the House with a majority vote. The Democrats currently hold an 8-seat majority in the House 220-212. Democrats used reconciliation to push through President Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the second largest stimulus bill in U.S. history. 

In 2010, there were 219 Democrats in the House who wound up voting for Obamacare, which garnered zero votes from Republicans. There were 34 Democrats who voted against the bill in a 219-212 vote. It passed the Senate with every Democratic vote and none from Republicans. After Obamacare passed, Democrats lost more than 50 seats to Republicans in the midterm election that followed, and the House majority flipped to the GOP.

Democratic incumbents in swing districts appear to be in the most danger if Democratic leaders ram through a $3.5 trillion social spending bill on a party-line vote.

According to Ballotpedia, there were 42 House races in the 2020 election decided by 5% or less, and the Democratic candidate won 23 of them.

The federal deficit so far in FY2021 is $2.54 trillion and the national debt is approaching $29 trillion. The deficit set a record in FY2020 at $3.1 trillion.