By Emel Akan
LEESBURG, Va.—House Democrats aren’t concerned about President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings heading into the November election, instead praising the economy and pledging to make their case to the public directly.
They convened this week in Leesburg, Virginia, for their annual retreat to discuss policy measures and strategies to regain control of the House in November.
“We are going to make our case to the American public,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), chair of the House Democrats, told reporters on Feb. 7 during a news conference at the retreat.
He said Democrats will highlight the accomplishments of the Biden administration, including the investments made and new jobs created.
“It’s our responsibility to help talk about that and to amplify that within our communities.”
Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to attend the retreat on Feb. 7 to meet with lawmakers; President Biden is expected to address the group on Feb. 8.
“The proof is in the pudding. We just saw it in the South Carolina primary last week,” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in response to President Biden’s low approval ratings.
The president received 96 percent of the vote in that primary.
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) said the agenda at the retreat would focus on building safer communities, lowering costs of child care, health care, housing, and protecting abortion rights.
President Biden began his reelection campaign with very low job approval ratings, particularly on critical policy matters such as the economy and immigration.
According to a recent NBC News poll, President Biden is more than 20 points behind the Republican presidential front-runner, former President Donald Trump, on which candidate would better handle the economy. In addition, the incumbent president is behind his predecessor by more than 30 points when it comes to managing immigration and the border.
In addition, a recent Gallup survey showed that the president’s performance stands as the second-worst in modern history for a first-term president. On average, 39.8 percent of Americans approved of his job performance in his third year in office, only better than Jimmy Carter, who averaged 37.4 percent in his third year.
On Feb. 6, President Biden accused his predecessor of exacerbating the current border crisis by opposing the latest Senate border security and foreign aid package, called the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act.”
Less than 24 hours after its release, the bill encountered opposition from Republicans in both the Senate and the House.
“Now, all indications are that this bill won’t even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? A simple reason: Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically,” President Biden told reporters on Feb. 6. “He’d rather weaponize this issue than actually solve it.”
Republicans, however, indicated that the deal’s border provisions weren’t strong enough.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made it clear that there was no chance of the measure becoming law.
“I think in the end, even though the product was approved by the Border Council that endorsed President Trump, most of our members feel that we’re not going to be able to make law here,” Mr. McConnell told reporters. “And if we’re not going to be able to make a law, they’re reluctant to go forward.”
Senate lawmakers have urgently resorted to a plan B to pass a supplemental bill to provide assistance for Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said he will speak with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) about the efforts to deliver aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
“I expect that we may speak over the next few days, once we have an understanding as to what happens in the Senate today,” Mr. Jeffries told reporters at the retreat.
“With or without the extreme MAGA Republicans, House Democrats are committed to getting our national security funding priorities over the finish line.”