Democrats’ departures undermine hopes of holding House

WASHINGTON – House Democrats face a wave of departures in the year following the midterm elections.

So far, 23 Democratic representatives have said they will not stand for re-election, including five in December alone. Three of them – Stephanie Murphy from Florida, Lucille Roybal-Allard from California and Albio Sires from New Jersey – made their announcements last week.

Some retired members have said they are stepping down because their districts have become more competitive in this year’s redistribution, while others have spoken of dysfunction on Capitol Hill or satisfaction with their legislative accomplishments in this Congress. Several others are running for other political posts.

The decisions come as the party faces significant headwinds ahead of November.

President Joe Biden’s job approval rating has hit new lows in recent weeks amid concerns about his handling of the economy and the coronavirus response – potentially ominous given that a president typically loses seats during the midterm elections. And Democrats’ concerns about maintaining their very small majorities in Congress next year have been exacerbated by the GOP sweep in last month’s election in Virginia and the surprisingly tight governor’s race in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the party’s hopes of pushing through Biden’s centerpiece, a $ 1.7 trillion social and climate package, collapsed when Sen. Joe Manchin, TBEN.Va., announced Sunday of Unexpectedly, he wouldn’t back the legislation, which Democrats have been negotiating for months, further highlighting the party’s internal disarray. This is in addition to key Democratic initiatives like the voting and immigration reviews that have already failed.

Image: Lucille Roybal-Allard (file Andrew Harnik / TBEN)

Against this backdrop, 15 of the nearly 23 Democrats not running for reelection have chosen to withdraw from public life altogether, including senior members.

Murphy, co-chair of the Moderate Blue Dog Coalition and member of the Special House Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, is the Deputy Chief House Whip. Roybal-Allard is a “cardinal” of the House, at the head of the subcommittee on internal security expenditure, and has served in Congress since 1993. Sires, member since 2006, chairs a subcommittee on foreign affairs and sits to the budget and infrastructure committees.

Other prominent members who have announced their retirement in recent months include Peter DeFazio of Oregon, chair of the transportation and infrastructure committee; John Yarmuth of Kentucky, who heads the powerful Budget Committee; and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

DeFazio, who has been in his seat for more than 30 years, was instrumental in negotiating the great infrastructure package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in November, while Yarmuth, a 15-year-old member, has helped lead the Democrats. . “A huge package of social spending.

Representatives Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and GK Butterfield of North Carolina, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, are also retiring.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, allayed concerns about the flow of departures, saying it was to be expected as it is a year of redistribution.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with our outlook in 2022,” he told reporters last month. “We are going to hold the House and we are going to become a majority. We will do it through extraordinary leadership.

Image: Peter DeFazio (Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file)

Image: Peter DeFazio (Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file)

Across the aisle, a dozen House Republicans have announced their intention to step down from Congress or run for another position, not counting members who have already left. Those leaving include Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of the two GOP members of the Jan. 6 committee; Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, Senior Member of the Ways and Means Committee; Representative Tom Reed of New York, former co-chair of the bipartisan problem-solving committee; and Devin Nunes of California, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump who is leaving to become CEO of Trump’s new media company.

So far, only one Senate Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has announced he will not stand for re-election. Across the aisle, five Senate Republicans have announced their intention to retire, including Richard Burr of North Carolina; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; Rob Portman of Ohio; Richard Shelby of Alabama; and Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Spurred on by the upcoming Senate recess, four House Democrats are running for the Senate in their home states: Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, Tim Ryan in Ohio, Peter Welch in Vermont and Val Demings in Florida. Several of their colleagues, meanwhile, are running for other elected positions, including Charlie Crist, for the post of governor of Florida, seat he previously held; Karen Bass, also former president of the Congressional Black Caucus, for the mayor of Los Angeles; Anthony Brown for the Attorney General of Maryland; and Tom Suozzi for Governor of New York.

State of races

Democrats hold a 222-213 advantage in the House, meaning Republicans would have to win five seats to regain control of the chamber. They last held a majority in 2018, before Democrats won a number of seats in that year’s election.

According to the Cook Political Report, five House seats are considered Democratic draws in the next election and seven districts are Democratic, while two GOP races are considered draws and four skinny Republicans – numbers that could change over time. . let redistribution continue.

Democrats also stand a chance of losing control of the equally divided Senate, where they only hold a majority because Vice President Kamala Harris can vote to break the tie.

The Cook Political Report notes three outgoing Democratic Senate seats: Arizona’s Mark Kelly; Rafael Warnock from Georgia; and Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada. He also believes that Senator Maggie Hassan’s seat, DN.H., is rather Democratic.

The poll rates three Republican seats as equally competitive, including the open seats in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson’s seat in Wisconsin.

Asked Monday about the implications future retirements would have for Democrats, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment, only saying Biden would be “out there” campaigning for the candidates.

Bustos, which represents a toss-up district, said Monday in an interview with MSNBC that Democrats need to focus on the “big middle” of the country rather than fighting between progressives and moderates.

“This is what we need to focus on if we want the legislation to be completed and if we are to ensure that we are successful in the 2022 election,” she said. “Retreats are part of the natural cycle, I think it’s worth noting. But there are a lot of things that need to be sorted out by next November.

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