Dems pledge to plow on Biden’s agenda even after election faceplants

Dems pledge to plow on Biden’s agenda even after election faceplants

“We have the ability and responsibility to govern and I think we need to focus on that,” Peters added.

The determination to stick to the $1.75 trillion social and climate spending bill underscores how much the Democratic Party has committed its future to Biden’s legislative priorities. And it comes just as the president’s own political downturn has put him in a weakened position to help them sell it.

The White House is expected to ramp up sales of its plans, arguing that the results in Virginia and New Jersey, where things have stayed too close to mention, are in part a reflection that voters want Congress to get things done. gets, a person close to the White House said.

Biden’s advisers insist the political environment could look very different next fall when members of Congress face voters. Before the polls closed on Tuesday, Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine overcame the last major regulatory hurdle for children ages 5 to 11, with independent vaccine advisors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention giving unanimous approval. And the drug pricing provision Democrats were working on to reinvigorate the social spending package sparked outright joy among party leaders who argue that Republicans would be forced to choose whether to oppose one of the most popular provisions under discussion.

But Biden’s advisers also recognize that none of these breakthroughs matter if they can’t sell their achievements to voters. And privately, several Democrats complained that it was Biden himself who helped slow the progress of his own agenda by tacitly allowing progressives to delay a vote on bipartisan infrastructure legislation while tearing apart the social spending plan. Notably, the president was returning from a climate summit abroad — accompanied by close associates, including his top political adviser — as the election results came in.

The president’s waning popularity — recent surveys showed him submerged in double digits in Virginia, a state he won by 10 percentage points in 2020 — created insurmountable headwinds for Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Biden’s approval rating in Democratic-oriented New Jersey was equally bleak, though virtually no one in the party predicted it would harm incumbent Phil Murphy. And while historical trends dictate that the party in power loses this election, it still sparked a series of blame and finger-pointing in the party’s ranks.

“Obviously, the president’s 42 percent approval rating is not helpful in a race like this,” said Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia. “If it’s 55 or 60 . used to be [percent], we would sail.”

“The challenge is that he has set a very popular agenda among the American people that has not yet been fully approved,” added Beyer, who lost his own race for governor of Virginia in 1997.

As bad news poured in for Democrats Tuesday night, the party’s moderates blamed progressives for withholding support for Biden’s massive infrastructure bill, while progressives accused centrists of slowing and watering down the president’s agenda. The sharp rebuke to Democrats has already sparked other calls from party leaders to rehabilitate a brand tainted by infighting and lack of action.

“Being anti-Trump isn’t enough,” said former Representative Tom Perriello, a Virginia Democrat who also lost a bid for governor in the 2017 primaries. have to ignite to pass Build Back Better.”

A senior Democratic official working on the upcoming midterms warned that if Tuesday’s results look lackluster, “it will get so much worse if we don’t pass the agenda and work on it.”

Another Democratic strategist, who declined to speak officially until the results were final, warned of dire consequences for the party if the infighting continues. “Democrats need to stop fighting each other and start performing for the voters. If we don’t, 2022 will be brutal.”

To get his legislative priorities through Congress, Biden still needs to resolve key policy and procedural disputes within his party. A single Democratic Senate violation would doom the social spending bill, and Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who has been openly hesitant about the proposal, has systematically expressed fears of spending deficits and inflation, urging aspects of social spending to plan ahead. be studied more closely.

To get out of his political predicament, the president may need a lot more than just advancing legislation. While a smoother process would have avoided months of backbiting, the governor’s clashes also exposed potentially powerful issues unrelated to Biden, namely education, parental rights and taxes.

Virginia alone would also never be a particularly useful predictor for the midterms. In 2013, McAuliffe himself bucked the decades-old trend of the president’s party losing state, when he narrowly took the Commonwealth governorship while Barack Obama was in the White House. But a year later, Republicans won nine Senate seats in the 2014 midterm elections, the biggest rebound since 1980, along with an additional 13 seats in the House.

“The people in my district don’t care what happens in the Virginia governor’s race,” said Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), who narrowly won his Trump-supporting northeast district last fall. “A year from now, what happened in the Virginia governor’s race will be a distant, vague memory.”

Eleven years ago, when the Democratic Party unexpectedly lost Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat to Scott Brown, lawmakers responded by openly questioning whether they should abandon their push for health care reform. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned then White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel against curbing their ambitions. In the process, she convinced Obama to plow through with Obamacare, which he did.

This is going around, the party has a much smaller majority in every chamber and is considering an even more expensive and far-reaching piece of legislation, which has been painstakingly negotiated for months. Tuesday night brought recriminations. But no one – at least immediately – called for a pause in considering the legislation.

“I don’t think this complicates the passage,” said Ben LaBolt, Obama’s 2012 campaign press secretary. “I think it helps to speed it up. It’s obvious to the average Democratic congressman that they should go into the election with a strong argument that they’ve helped families economically in the short and long term. These accounts do that.”

Sam Stein contributed to this report.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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