Dec 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Blue Dog Democrats urge Biden to focus on bipartisan priorities

Blue Dog Coalition

Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46) speaks at a press conference as his fellow Blue Dog Coalition co-chairs, Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), stand behind him. Photo: Courtesy of the Blue Dog Coalition

Moderate Democrats in Congress are asking President-elect Joe Biden for classified, bipartisan briefings about the recent Russian cyberattacks on the U.S. and for intel assessments of how China may be seeking to exploit the pandemic.

The big picture: These are among the Blue Dog Coalition's recommendations in a letter to Biden that calls on Democrats to stick to legislation both parties can get behind, around the pandemic, economic recovery, government reforms after the Trump era and holding foreign adversaries accountable for interference.

  • "The 117th Congress is going to be narrowly divided, with a slim Democratic majority in the House, and at best, a narrow Senate majority," said the letter signed by 15 of the group's members.
  • "Our nation faces major challenges as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Americans are sick of Congress playing partisan games."

Between the lines: The letter is as notable for the long list of progressive policy priorities it doesn't mention as for what it does.

  • The coalition, which lost seats in the last election, is comprised of lawmakers who represent politically moderate districts throughout the country.
  • The rise of progressive activists could further threaten moderates in the 2022 midterms if their swing-district constituents believe Democrats aren't getting enough done or are being pulled too far to the left.
  • "Pursuing partisan legislation that cannot make it to your desk for your signature will not only hinder the nation's recovery, it will further feed into the divides in our country," the letter said.

What they're saying: "If we have a five-seat majority, any five people can get together and block something, right?" Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who signed the letter, told Axios.

  • "The question is — can you actually get something done, is — a whole different issue... it's gonna take building coalitions of those who want to govern. So to do that you're gonna have to work with both sides.
  • "It might mean that in instances, in the House, that we say, 'Listen, we're gonna lose five members of the far left, but we can pick up five Republicans.'"
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