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Former Pelosi critic says Dems ‘absolutely’ united behind her now

Rep. Tim Ryan had been among Nancy Pelosi’s most prominent critics, mounting a bid to unseat her as Democratic leader in 2017. | AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

House Democrats are “absolutely” united behind presumptive incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Tim Ryan said Wednesday, putting the caucus in line behind the longtime Democratic leader as she prepares to face off against President Donald Trump over ending an ongoing government shutdown.

Ryan (D-Ohio) has been among Pelosi’s most prominent critics, mounting a bid to unseat her as Democratic leader in 2017 and joining with other Democrats last year in an effort to force her out of the top spot in party leadership in the upcoming Congress. But Ryan told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he and other Democrats are now behind Pelosi (D-Calif.), who will join other Congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday for a meeting on the government shutdown, now in its 12th day.

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“I don’t think anyone at any point questioned her ability to negotiate, for her to be in rooms like the one she’s going to be in today, like the one she was in last week, and be as effective as anybody else in our caucus or in our party,” Ryan said.

“And I think that Donald Trump, I think, understands that now, and we have all the confidence that she will advocate on our behalf and get the best deal possible for the American people.”

Ryan was one of several House Democratic rebels who spearheaded a post-midterm effort to install a Pelosi replacement as speaker. The California Democrat ultimately outmaneuvered them and is expected to become speaker again when Democrats assume the majority Thursday. But her critics have claimed her concession to leave the post by 2022 as a significant victory.

Ryan, who is often mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential candidate in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field, said Wednesday that his party needs to counter Trump with “a real robust economic agenda” focused on issues like infrastructure.

Asked whether that would conflict with the party’s progressive wing agitating for movement on priorities like climate change and gun control, Ryan said that “we can walk and chew gum at the same time. … I just think the main thrust every time people turn on the TV, they need to also hear us talking about jobs and wages and pensions and growing the economy in communities like Youngstown, Ohio, or Flint, Mich., or Gary, Ind.”

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are currently embroiled in a government funding fight with Trump that has shuttered wide swaths of the government since before Christmas. The president has insisted that any deal to reopen the government include funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, one of his signature campaign promises.

Maxine Waters

Negotiations over crucial border wall and immigration fights are expected to heat up as Congress returns to Washington from the holidays, though neither side appears to giving up ground yet. Ryan, in his “Morning Joe” appearance, called on Trump to combine his border security push with broader immigration reform to entice Democratic votes.

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