Factions of congressional Democrats were reportedly planning at least three different responses to the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday.
Democrats are turning on each other in fear and anger ahead of the midterms, which are expected to be a reckoning for the party.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Colin Allred, D-Texas, and Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., will all deliver responses to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress.
- Tlaib will give a rebuttal on behalf of the party’s progressive faction, while Allred will speak for the Congressional Black Caucus.
- Gottheimer, meanwhile, will deliver the centrist perspective when he speaks at a panel hosted by No Labels, a bi-partisan group that seeks coalition building in Congress.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Gottheimer told Axios Monday that Tlaib’s gesture is “massively counterproductive,” likening it to “keying your own car and slashing your own tires.”
Despite some sensational coverage, it’s simple: I’m giving a speech about supporting President Biden and his Build Back Better agenda for the people. Look past the headlines & hear progressives’ vision for working with the President & Congress to deliver for our residents. https://t.co/QMVBxbUV3Q
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 23, 2022
Gottheimer’s “frustration with a charter member of the ‘squad’ reveals a deep tactical division within the Democratic Party over midterm strategy: appeal to the party’s base, or try to capture swing voters?” wrote Axios’ Hans Nichol.
- A person familiar with Tlaib’s prepared remarks told Axios they are “designed to deliver a progressive vision for America.”
- But the rebuttal is also a way to hound centrist Democrats, such as Rep. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, for derailing passage of Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
- Gottheimer warned the speech will only serve to emphasize the “the real tension between the socialist far left and the common-sense moderate wing, which is focused on crime, costs, tax cuts and affordability and turning the page on COVID.”
Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, had even harsher words for her progressive party mates, telling Axios: “It is astonishing that the radical left continues to promote a Democratic death wish, and sees no problem relegating our party to the permanent minority.”
Democratic strategists have been worrying aloud that Biden’s record-low approval ratings, the tendency for the party in power to lose ground in midterms and discouraging internal polling data all spell doom in the upcoming elections.
- While moderate Democrats have preemptively blamed radicals within their ranks, progressives have argued the party’s real problem is that it isn’t going far enough.
- Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., another squad member, last month rejected intra-party pleas for her to stop using the “defund the police” slogan.
- “Defund the police’ is not the problem,” Bush said. “We dangled the carrot in front of people’s faces and said we can get it done and that Democrats deliver, when we haven’t totally delivered.”