PHILADELPHIA -- House Democrats gathered in Philadelphia to review their accomplishments and plan a way to retain their small majority. Their differences were starkly displayed, just as they had hoped to unite and defeat the Republicans.
The reason for the anxiety is a disagreement between Democrats over how to resist historical trends against their party and survive the midterm election.
Leaders of the Progressive and Congressional Black Caucus say Democrats need more legislative wins to convince voters to retain them in power. The party's campaign chief is focused on protecting members at-risk and says Democrats have many achievements and can win if they show more empathy and authenticity to their voters.
When asked if Democrats needed to pass a bill similar to Build Back Better to retain the majority, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chair of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or DCCC replied "No."
He stated that Democrats have many accomplishments and a better map of their district than the one they won in 2020. He stated that although more victories are good, voters will not judge them on their preachiness or empathy. They will also evaluate them on their priorities.
He said that the Democratic Party needs to improve its attributes. Candidates must show voters that they care about them and share their values.
A recent study by the DCCC on voter attitudes revealed that many Americans living in key battleground areas consider the party preachy and judgmental. This was confirmed by a source who is familiar with the findings.
Maloney's advice? Maloney's advice?
His comments came just moments after Rep. Pramila Japal, D.Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus offered a new path: improve the lives voters by passing portions of the Build Back better Act. This smorgasbord popular promises from President Joe Biden cleared the House but was blocked in the Senate due to opposition from Senator Joe Manchin, D.W.Va.
Jayapal said Thursday that he would not speak about the person who will not be named or the thing which will not be named -- Build Back Better. It's like Voldemort. These words are not spoken. We continue to work on pieces of legislation."
'Disappointing, infuriating, disenchanted'
Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), another leading progressive, stated that voters who "galvanized to put Biden in office" expected more from the party than they have received.
They expected Build Back Better to get something done. Bowman said that it has not. He cited universal child care and housing aid, as well as stalled priorities in policing, voting rights and policing as factors driving voter anxiety. We need to win in these areas in order to secure our path to a majority in this House.
He said, "Disappointing. Infuriating. Disenchanted." "There are many of these sentiments out there."
The Democrats who gathered together were united in their desire to highlight their achievements, including the American Rescue Plan, $1 trillion infrastructure law, plummeting Covid deaths numbers, and record job creation during Biden's first-year.
They disagreed on whether this would be enough to win, especially with the additional headwinds of rising inflation as well as skyrocketing gas prices due to Russia's war in Ukraine.
The 2022 election will be influenced by the participation of predominantly young, non-white Democratic voters. They aren't always reliable voters. They came out in large numbers to overthrow President Donald Trump and his GOP, but they did not vote in the Obama administration's midterm elections, which caused red waves in 2010 as well as 2014.
"We have a precarious minority in the Senate and the House. "There's a lot frustration with inability to get 10 Republican Senators to meet us and adopt the Dream and Promise Act," stated Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), who pointed out that the bill had passed the House. "There is frustration on our side -- on my behalf and the administration's."
This week, Black Caucus leaders met with Biden to discuss key Democratic priorities such as voting rights and reforms for police officers. These are issues that do not have a realistic chance of becoming law due to the Senate's 60 vote threshold.
Biden, however, struck a bipartisan tone last week in his State of the Union speech. He urged Republicans and Democrats to find common ground to help the American people. Friday's retreat will be addressed by the president.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus agreed that Democrats should spend the remainder of this election year working to pass bills on a bipartisan basis.
Gottheimer stated, "We need to focus on commonsense and bipartisan action that can really get done and bring people together -- like fighting crime, turning the corner with Covid, and cutting taxes, costs, and gas prices, and prescription drugs."