Why Nancy Pelosi is confident House Dems will hold the majority this fall
“I got us here twice to the majority,” the House speaker said on Tuesday. “And I don’t intend on giving it up.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Nancy Pelosi is nothing if not consistent.
Long before the recent flurry of legislative wins that rescued President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda and the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion care against the will of a majority of Americans, Pelosi — the first woman to serve as House Speaker — has maintained that Democrats would hold their slim majority despite past elections and current insider analysis suggesting otherwise.
“How many times have I told you over the past year-and-a-half-plus that Democrats would hold the House despite some of the so-called conventional so-called wisdom in Washington DC saying that in the off-year the president’s party always loses seats. The fact is that isn’t conventional and it isn’t wisdom because convention has changed.” Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday. “And even though there’s some among you who belittle my political instincts and the rest, I got us here twice to the majority. And I don’t intend on giving it up.”
The DC political class has mostly written off Pelosi’s predictions as bravado designed to bolster her prolific fundraising prowess. And the fact remains that Republicans only have to gain five seats to flip the lower chamber, which should be no sweat thanks to a spate of congressional districts gerrymandered in their favor. But there’s no denying that the election is likely to be tighter than the pundits once thought as Democrats rally around a flurry of recent legislative victories and a coalition of voters worried about the future of reproductive rights.
Pelosi praised Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee responsible for getting House Democrats elected, for mobilizing the party to own the ground as soon as he was chosen by his colleagues to run the DCCC. This work, the speaker said, started before Jan. 6 but the insurrection accelerated their momentum.
Democrats have been dogged by the reputation that they’re poor messengers of both their policy wins and the differences between their vision for the country and the Republicans’. But Democrats at the White House, in Congress and on the campaign trail have been vocal about the major bills they’ve passed with little to no GOP support — including the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act.
“The legislation that we are passing has been very, very, shall we say say, encouraging to our grassroots,” Pelosi said.
Political parties need money to win and Pelosi said the DCCC’s war chest is another reason for her optimism: The committee had about $8 million more cash on hand than their Republican counterparts as of August.
The Democratic establishment is also betting on the quality of their candidates in races where mainstream Republicans and independents are turned off by more extreme alternatives.
“They’re beautifully diverse. They’re courageous,” Pelosi said of the primary winners who are expected to win their safe seats this fall. “Courage is the main thing. Everybody can have their convictions and their commitments to ideas. And that’s lovely. And that’s sort of why they run. But how they run with courage is really what is so exciting.”
Pelosi added that technology has changed the way we communicate, the threats to democracy in the aftermath of the Trump presidency and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and the climate crisis are variables that could ultimately defy historic trends.
But when it’s all said and done, Republicans feel like the fundamentals of the midterms remain intact despite the Democratic surge and are betting that their focus on inflation, immigration and crime will energize conservative voters.
“The sad part is Democrats know the consequences of their radical policies and they continue to double down,” Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the number-three House Republican, told reporters on Tuesday. “The American people cannot afford another year of failed Democrat one-party rule in Washington — it’s time for leadership that listens to the concerns of every American, which House Republicans are doing every day.”
What’s lacking from congressional Republicans in this debate are clear legislative alternatives beyond the talking points circulated through the right-wing’s digital and cable news echo chamber. And when they do introduce proposals, as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina did on Tuesday with his nationwide abortion ban, they are on the wrong side of public opinion and spurned by other Republicans.
Democrats have passed or proposed bills to address the issues Stefanik and her conference claim are distressing Americans but House Republicans, following Trump’s lead, believe there’s more upside in railing against the other side’s solutions as socialism than working towards the kinds of compromise they have the power to reach. If they in fact win the majority in a few months, they’ll be quickly reminded that governing is much harder than griping.
Pelosi was set to retire in 2017 had former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prevailed in her election against Trump. The most powerful woman in American politics passing the baton to the first woman president? It would have been iconic. Instead, she stayed on to lead the resistance against and two impeachments of Trump.
In the process, Pelosi delayed the ascent of a new generation of leaders anxious to reimagine the caucus in a younger image. (Pelosi is 82 years old. The three members who are seen as the future of the House leadership — Reps. Hakeem Jefferies of New York, Pete Aguilar of California and Katherine Clark of Massachusetts — are 52, 43, 59, respectively.)
Pelosi declined to comment on if she, were the Democrats to prevail in December, would run for another term as speaker. This will do little to calm speculation that she’ll retire after the midterms or the shadow campaign to replace her. For what it’s worth: House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, two of Pelosi’s longest-serving lieutenants who are both in their eighties as well, have said they plan to remain in leadership regardless of what happens with Pelosi.
“First we win,” Pelosi said. “Then we decide.”
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Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington pressed Biden administration officials for a more equitable response to the monkeypox outbreak, which has disproportionately impacted the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color. “The monkeypox response so far has not been encouraging,” Murray said during a hearing on the issue. “But there are some clear signs of progress, and there are clear steps we can, and should, take to improve.” (The White House monkeypox response team is scheduled to update reporters on its progress on Thursday morning.)
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio introduced a bill focused on law enforcement de-escalation. The legislation would require the Justice Department to create an immersive, real-life, scenario-based training curriculum to address key issues raised by law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts reintroduced the Leave No Americans Behind Act to end the practice of charging fees from Americans evacuating foreign countries in times of crisis. The lawmakers first introduced the bill in 2018 and say that concerns about this practice resurface every time there is a major evacuation of US citizens from a foreign country, for example during the 2017 hurricane season, the 2006 Lebanon war or, most recently, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The House unveiled the official portrait of the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. The portrait will hang in its final resting spot in the House Oversight Committee’s hearing room, which is named after Cummings who chaired the committee from 2017 until his death in October 2019.
Speaker Pelosi announced new committee assignments for the two newest House Democrats. Rep. Mary Peltolaof Alaska will serve on the Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Pat Ryan of New York will serve on the Armed Services Committee. Peltola and Ryan recently won special elections and will run for full two-year terms in November.
President Biden spoke to King Charles III this morning to offer his condolences on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The president and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will travel to the UK this weekend to attend the Queen’s funeral next week.
The White House defended an unscheduled trip by President and First Lady Biden to Delaware on Tuesday to vote in the state’s primary election. “The President has a very heavy schedule. He’s the President of the United States. It worked out best for him to vote yesterday,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked why the Bidens didn’t cast an absentee ballot or vote early. “He thought it was important to exercise his constitutional right to vote and set an example by showing the importance of voting.” Jean-Pierre added that President Biden also used the occasion to thank poll workers, who have been under attack for the past several years, for their work.
The uninsured rate among children fell to five percent in 2021, according to the Census Bureau. The 0.6 percent decrease from 2020 was driven by an increase in public coverage such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Related: Government assistance lifted 5.4 million Americans out of poverty during the same period. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) dipped to 7.8 percent, its lowest point on record, the Census Bureau reports.
FBI Director Christopher Wray announced the agency and local and state law enforcement partners arrested nearly 6,000 alleged violent criminals and gang members this summer. The FBI and its partners said it seized more than 2,700 guns connected to criminal conduct, disrupted or dismantled 95 violent gangs and criminal enterprises, and seized large quantities of fentanyl and other deadly narcotics.
Attorney General Merrick Garland met with media representatives to provide an update on the Justice Department’s work to protect journalists from revealing their sources. Revised regulations intended to further strengthen protections for news outlets and journalists are expected this fall.
The Treasury and State Departments established the Afghan Fund to benefit the people of Afghanistan. The Fund will protect, preserve and disburse $3.5 billion of Afghan central bank reserves President Biden authorized to help stabilize the Afghan economy after the US’s withdrawal from the country last year.
The Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health launched a public-private partnership aimed at advancing the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases and fostering the development of treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other rare neurodegenerative diseases. The partnership will focus on patient-focused drug development, identification of molecular targets for neurodegenerative disease and clinical development of therapies.
NARAL Pro-Choice America re-endorsed Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire in her reelection campaign. Hassan will face off against anti-choice Republican Don Bolduc in one of the elections that are expected to determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning received his daily intelligence briefing and then traveled to Detroit to tour the Detroit Auto Show and speak about his administration’s investments in domestic electric vehicle manufacturing. He also this afternoon participated in a reception for the Democratic National Committee. He will return to the White House this evening.
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Buffalo, New York to participate in a clean energy and sustainability tour at the GROW Clean Energy Center at The State University of New York at Buffalo. The vice president also spoke at an Inflation Reduction Act climate event at The State University of New York at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts. She is en route back to Washington DC now.
The House is in and took votes on legislation to protect whistleblowers and ensure a fair and accurate census.
The Senate is in and voted to confirm Laura E. Montecalvo to be US Circuit Judge for the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island) and to advance Sarah A. L. Merriam to be US Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York, Vermont).
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