WASHINGTON – Armed with an out-of-year election rebuke, Congressional Democrats on Wednesday moved towards House votes this week on nearly $ 3 trillion in social policy, infrastructure and change programs climate – but with deep new concern after Tuesday’s astonishing losses: is legislative victory helping or hurting their political position?
In the aftermath of a loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race and too close a race in the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey, the party’s representatives in Congress have struggled to minimize the recriminations. But centrist and moderate Democrats complained that the party’s left flank held back the final passage of what they saw as the most popular part of the agenda, a bipartisan 1 infrastructure bill. Trillion dollars.
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia who campaigned for Terry McAuliffe, only to see him lose, said: House. When are you going to do more stuff? ‘ I’m just saying in Washington that people might think it’s a smart strategy to invest once in a generation in infrastructure and stop your president from signing this bill. And is that sort of a good strategy?
West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III added, “We have a proven bill in the infrastructure bill that should have been done – we should have taken it. But you know, it’s water over the dam now.
Liberal lawmakers were not about to accept this criticism from Mr Manchin, who continued to be the main obstacle to passing a separate social safety net and climate change bill. $ 1.85 trillion they want to approve before they vote for the public works measure.
But virtually all Democrats came out of the massive defeats in Virginia and what seemed like a tight loophole for New Jersey Democratic Gov. Philip Murphy, agreeing it was now imperative to pass both bills as quickly as possible. possible to prove that their party could govern.
Above the effort was a deep sense of fear among Democrats – reinforced by Tuesday’s results – that their prospects of retaining control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections were dwindling day by day. , amid declining approval ratings for President Biden and widespread discontent with the country’s leadership.
“The No. 1 concern that voters have raised with me over the past few weeks has been the inability of Congress and the government in general to get things done at a time when the country needs it badly,” the Minister said. representing Tom Malinowski, Democrat in a swing district. in New Jersey. “So the best thing we can do in Congress is pass these damn bills, immediately.”
To that end, Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday ordered the House Rules Committee to consider and approve a final draft of the social policy and climate bill by the end of the day. And she injected a twist that indicated Democrats were in no mood to reverse their ambitious agenda in response to disappointing election results, asking the committee to add in four weeks paid family and medical leave that had been cut. at M. L’insistance de Manchin.
It was a departure from her stated policy of only bringing before the House a bill that she knew could pass the Senate, where Democrats cannot afford to lose a single vote. of their party given the very partisan division of the chamber.
“Today is another important day in our historic effort to make the future better for the American people, for children, to build back better with women, to save the planet,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats. describing the plan.
Republicans have refined their lines of attack thanks to the successful campaign of Glenn Youngkin, the private equity executive and political neophyte who conquered the governorship of Virginia with a strong focus on education and the grievances of disgruntled parents of how school districts have responded to the pandemic.
Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, who is in charge of the House’s Republican messaging, convened an education roundtable on Wednesday to try to get Youngkin’s message nationwide. Republicans have made it clear they will tackle two of the social policy bill’s most important and popular provisions – universal preschool and generous child care support – by saying it These were plans to nationalize early childhood education and impose left-wing pedagogy on young people.
Ms Stefanik said the children were “forced to remain masked and away from their peers” and exposed to “inappropriate material” about race and gender.
“Virginians said loud and clear last night that parental rights are an issue that we can run and win,” she said. “Glenn Youngkin ran on education, and he won on education.”
Democrats, however, seemed confident they could overcome this line of attack, stressing the benefits of programs created by their legislation, against which Republicans are united in opposition.
“Oh, I am looking forward to this fight,” said Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania. “They say we shouldn’t be helping families pay for child care and getting more three and four year olds to kindergarten?” Please say that, Republicans. Please say that.
But Mr. Warner was more circumspect. Democrats, he said, had been right to shower school districts with relief from the coronavirus pandemic for the past 18 months, but they now need to consider how that fueled Republican accusations from the centralizing federal government. control over how schools handled the pandemic and what they taught children.
“I haven’t met an educator or parent in Virginia anywhere who doesn’t think that kind of relief is appropriate as we come out of Covid,” he said. But, he added, “I have to admit that Glenn Youngkin tapped into concerns about education at the local level. It struck a chord, and I think those of us on the Democratic side need to sit down and think about how we’re going to fix it. “