There’s little serious debate that Tuesday was a very bad day for Democrats – and an ill omen for the coming 2022 midterm elections.
What’s far less clear is what Democrats can – or will – do about the problems posed by Terry McAuliffe’s loss in Virginia and the still-tight governor’s race in New Jersey.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed nonplussed by the results, responding “no no” when asked if the electoral results Tuesday would change her approach to Democrats’ legislative agenda that includes a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $1.75 trillion social safety net bill – both of which remain un-passed in the House.
But, it’s worth noting that Pelosi made those comments before taking the pulse of her caucus – and it remains to be seen whether members in vulnerable districts will advocate for a change in approach in the wake of Tuesday’s results.
Then there’s the Senate – and, in particular, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin – who remain seemingly unwilling to work on the timeframe House Democrats would like.
Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju Wednesday that it will “take time” to negotiate and pass the social safety net bill – and there have to be questions now as to whether that bill can pass in anything like its current form given the rejection of Democrats that happened on Tuesday.
Hours after returning from his visits abroad, Biden weighed in on the party’s loss in Virginia on Wednesday afternoon from the White House. He maintained his pressure on Congress to pass his infrastructure bill and social safety net package.
“I think it should have passed before Election Day,” Biden said of his legislative agenda, “but I’m not sure I would have been able to change the number of very conservative folks who turned out in red districts that were (former President Donald) Trump voters.”
He added, “People want us to get things done and that’s why I’m continuing to push very hard for the Democratic Party to move along and pass my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better bill.”
The issue is that Democrats don’t have any great options. Their ability to pass the infrastructure bill and/or the social safety net measure is clearly in doubt following Tuesday night’s defeats. Do they just try to pass the infrastructure bill so they can tell voters they’ve done something? Is there a compromise out there that gets both bills passed? Is passing neither bill a possibility?
The Point: It’s already been a long slog for Biden and congressional Democrats on infrastructure and Biden’s social safety net. Tuesday night threw everything into chaos (again) and left the party at odds as to what to do next.