- Mikulski to Retire Monday
- Russ Feingold, Joe Sestak and The Improbable Senate Race Rematch
- CPAC Campaign Boot Camp Trains GOP to Catch Up
- Ex-House Candidate Will Take Top Role in Likely Clinton Campaign
- Vulnerable GOP Senators Steer Clear of CPAC
Posts in "Moderates"
February 25, 2015
If you’re wondering how the fight over the Department of Homeland Security funding bill is going to end, you’re not alone: Lawmakers and aides across the Capitol genuinely don’t know — which doesn’t exactly portend well for avoiding a department shutdown.
After a two-week stint where they purportedly didn’t directly speak to each other, Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thawed the silence during a 41-minute meeting in McConnell’s office Wednesday. Full story
February 5, 2015
Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t dress like the typical member of Congress — opting for youthful, fashion-forward designs and splashy, bright colors over Capitol Hill’s ubiquitous tailored suits and muted blazers.
She doesn’t act like the typical Democrat, either. Sinema’s unafraid to criticize the president, voted to repeal portions of the party’s precious health care law and even fraternizes with the enemy: Republicans. Full story
February 3, 2015
Updated 7:27 p.m. | House Republican leaders gave their freshmen members a political gift Tuesday: The chance to vote “yes” on a symbolic bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
For three new Republican representatives, however, the repeal vote was an opportunity to vote “no.” Full story
January 29, 2015
PHILADELPHIA — House Democrats are united around a new messaging strategy for the 2016 cycle, according to Rep. Steve Israel of New York.
“Middle class, middle class and middle class,” the chairman of a newly created Democratic Policy and Communication Committee told reporters on Thursday morning. Full story
January 28, 2015
The same day House Democrats are set to go to their annual issues conference in Philadelphia to discuss messaging for the 2016 election cycle, among other things, the caucus’s new messaging group held its inaugural meeting on Capitol Hill.
The newly minted, 16-member Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which was tailored specifically to be led by recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, heard Wednesday morning from David Simas, the White House director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Full story
January 27, 2015
The official theme of the House Democrats’ annual “issues conference” this week is “Grow America’s Economy, Grow American Paychecks.”
But the three-day retreat in Philadelphia, which kicks off Wednesday afternoon, could be a test of whether leaders and rank-and-file members can return to Washington, D.C., having found some common ground. Full story
January 20, 2015
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama likely will reiterate his call for Congress to pave the way for new trade negotiations — but House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is still demurring on how far he’ll go to help the administration achieve that goal.
The Maryland Democrat said Tuesday at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters that he was, and would continue, discussing the matter with the White House, Trade Representative Michael Froman and fellow members of House Democratic leadership. Full story
January 19, 2015
A revitalized President Barack Obama and newly empowered Republican leaders are heading into Tuesday’s State of the Union address on a collision course.
At their joint retreat in Hershey, Pa., Republicans fresh off triumphant midterm elections said they are looking for the president to become a legislating partner — even as they promise bold, or even quixotic, clashes with Obama. Full story
December 15, 2014
Wide swaths of House Democrats have said they attribute Election Day losses to the caucus’s lack of a unified message, a strong pitch they can sell to voters and, above all else, a true sense their actions will match up with their rhetoric.
So when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi broke with the White House last week and fought against a trillion-dollar spending package containing policy riders abhorred by her caucus, progressives cheered the return of their liberal champion. Full story
December 11, 2014
Updated 1:18 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12: The House passed the cromnibus Thursday night 219-206, with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voting for the bill, and 67 Republicans and 139 Democrats voting against. While the vote was close, the breakdown split along familiar lines. But there were some interesting trends and deviations in the vote. Full story
December 10, 2014
Just hours after releasing the text of a 289,861-word, $1.013 trillion bill to fund the government, House GOP leaders stood before their members Wednesday morning to sell the plan.
Lawmakers emerging from the closed-door meeting offered a checkered assessment of the collective response among the rank-and-file, and a true read on the level of support for the bill within the conference might not come until the formal whipping begins later Wednesday afternoon. Full story
November 12, 2014
Updated 3:34 p.m. | House Democrats came back to work Wednesday still reeling from last week’s bruising election results — and looking for answers about what went wrong.
For many lawmakers, it wasn’t enough to blame the loss of at least a dozen House seats on an unpopular president, gerrymandered districts and a host of other factors beyond the party’s control. Going forward, they say they want their leadership to do some soul-searching, and so far it hasn’t happened.
Several Democratic lawmakers and aides told CQ Roll Call they chafed at the postmortem conference call Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi convened on Nov. 6, in which she, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York and other senior members sought to deflect responsibility for the election results that gave House Republicans their largest majority in nearly a century.
A few members challenged Pelosi for her suggestion that voter suppression accounted for low Democratic turnout, a source on the call said.
A handful of Democratic aides said there was general frustration that the DCCC, at the eleventh hour, had to shift precious dollars around to help incumbents who should have been safe — or should have been warned by the DCCC much earlier to get back to their districts and protect their seats.
Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., was telling his local newspaper the party’s messaging needed to change. Democrats wouldn’t win elections, he said, talking about Pelosi’s favored “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” agenda.
“Where the hell were the Democrats? What were we talking about?” he asked. “We’re losing white men. Why are we not talking about that? Why are we always concerned with what’s the politically correct thing to say?”
“Where’s the humility?” a senior Democratic aide lamented. “Don’t we want to self-assess here?”
Over the weekend, it looked like party leaders were starting to come around to the idea about how the elections went for Democrats on a national leavel. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida announced that a special panel of “key party stakeholders and experts” would perform a “top-to-bottom assessment” of what went wrong this cycle and how to do better next time.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., tweeted that Wasserman Schultz “is right: Dems need a thorough, honest analysis of what went wrong. … Business as usual is not the clarion call we need now.”
Even the House’s third-ranking Democrat, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, acknowledged there should be some examination of how the messaging strategy was executed.
“A couple of weeks before the election, my travels around the country, in and out of these congressional districts, led me to the conclusion that our message, or a lack thereof, was causing a problem,” Clyburn told CQ Roll Call on Monday. “Where was the Democratic message in this campaign? People couldn’t tell you.”
A leadership aide pushed back against the thesis that House Democrats lacked a compelling narrative on the campaign trail, and that leaders are required to self-flagellate to prove they’re disappointed.
The aide told CQ Roll Call that the caucus had numerous opportunities to collaborate on a party platform ahead of the midterms, with Pelosi and Israel holding listening sessions to hone talking points and messaging strategy. The result was the “Middle Class Jumpstart” economic agenda, which House Democrats promised to implement within their first 100 days of regaining control of the chamber.
Attendance was always high at these special planning meetings, the leadership aide continued; if members now are saying they didn’t like the message or appreciate the tone, it’s not because they never had the chance to make their feelings known. Also, grousing about a lack of message, the aide said, is par for the course for Democrats every two years.
“I think we went beyond doing enough,” Rep. Jose E. Serrano of New York said Wednesday, in defense of the caucus’s strategy this election cycle.
At least one tradition, however, is missing from this year’s election aftermath: Calls for an imminent change at the leaders’ table. It’s a far cry from 2010 when Democrats lost control of the chamber and there was considerable chatter about whether it the time had come for Pelosi to step aside after 12 years in leadership.
“It does not just fall on Nancy,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona told CQ Roll Call Wednesday, adding that responsibility for what went wrong on Election Day was a “shared one” among the whole House Democratic Caucus.
So for the time being, even ambitious lawmakers clamoring to move up in the House’s party power structure are keeping their powder dry, perhaps expecting 2016 to be the year where a sea change finally takes place at the very top.
There are also fewer members in elected office willing to risk even a symbolic challenge of Pelosi, Clyburn or Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. There is now a shortage of fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats willing to “take one for the team,” as ex-Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina did four years ago.
But it doesn’t mean that Democrats don’t want to see some changes. That’s especially true for the dozens of members who were elected in 2012 eager to compromise and get things done, even if it meant working with Republicans.
One member of that class, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said there needs to be a “whole different level of engagement” between members and leadership going forward, and she predicted the caucus would be confronted with the challenge of evaluating the status quo.
“I am ready to talk and have an action plan ready on Wednesday,” Lujan Grisham told CQ Roll Call on Nov. 8, adding that she wanted to see the 2016 cycle built around talking points that focused more on positive ideas and less on partisan finger-pointing.
In a separate interview on Tuesday, first-term Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the cycle, said members were undeniably getting antsy with business-as-usual in the senior ranks.
“I think you’re going to have some of the more senior members frustrated about when we’re going to get the House back,” said Murphy, “and you got some younger, newer members who kind of want to be set free and don’t want to be tied down as much.
“They want to talk about the things that got them elected in the first place,” he continued. “This is a new generation of leadership.”
Correction 4:26 p.m.
An earlier version of this post misstated the state that Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. represents in Congress. He represents New Jersey.
October 22, 2014
But after 10 months of cutting checks and courting colleagues, they’re still not finished campaigning to replace the panel’s current ranking member, retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California.
Members of the House Democratic Caucus won’t settle the hotly contested race until late-November at the earliest, meaning Pallone of New Jersey and Eshoo of California will have to stay on the offensive, showing they’re both team players and power players who are ready — and able — to help their friends out.
Along the way, they are pulling pages from the same playbook — with a few key exceptions.
October 10, 2014
House members who want to help their party in the final stretch of campaign season have options. They can offer endorsements. Make calls. Write checks.
But sometimes, nothing says “I care” like getting on a plane and flying across the country to stand alongside a colleague.
In the month before Election Day, members not fighting for their political lives are expected to be team players — and one way to do that is by traveling to different congressional districts as campaign “surrogates.”
It’s not as simple as just showing up: Being a good surrogate is an art, and considerable thought, time and effort go into deciding who should go where, and when, and in what capacity.
Each member has his or her own edge.
Budget Chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., will draw a crowd, while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., can bring in buckets of money (she’s raised more than $400 million for Democrats since 2002). Others can open doors that might otherwise be closed, or help a vulnerable member shore up support among a flagging constituency.
And every ambitious lawmaker on Capitol Hill knows that stumping for a fellow member or potential colleague can pay off down the road.
October 6, 2014
Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay — or “The Hammer,” as he was known in his leadership days — recently called the GOP Class of 1994 “the greatest freshman class … to walk into the House of Representatives.”
Newt Gingrich, who won the speaker’s gavel in 1995 as a reward for orchestrating the first House Republican takeover in four decades, agreed.
“This is not just a game,” he said last month. “This is about how the free people govern themselves, and [that] class was as fine an example of that as I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
The men, from Texas and Georgia respectively, were preaching to the choir: They’d been invited back to Capitol Hill to deliver remarks to more than 40 members of the ‘94 class who reunited to celebrate the fast-approaching 20th anniversary of the historic election.
But the praise did more than just puff the egos of former and current lawmakers attending the event. It unplugged a spigot of nostalgia for what many of the Republicans on hand recalled as halcyon days of legislating. Full story