House Democrats, including (from left) Rep. George Miller, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, hold a mock hearing Wednesday on the urgency of creating jobs to try to show how their policies differ from Republicans.
Still, aides likened Pelosi’s strategy this time around to the “Six for ’06” initiative, a six-pronged legislative road map that Democrats campaigned on in 2006. This week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee formally unveiled its “Drive to 25,” a similar slogan-driven initiative that references the net number of seats Democrats need to win back the majority.
Democratic lawmakers took the opportunity Wednesday to criticize their Republican counterparts.
“I’m disturbed that so far this new Congress has shown little urgency to address the job situation, and that must, in fact, change,” Miller said.
Rep. Robert Andrews described House Republicans as “absent landlords,” castigating Republicans for not yet bringing any job-creation legislation to the floor this year.
“We’re back here today because we believe that we’re eager to do what the majority has refused to do,” the New Jersey Democrat said.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said it’s incumbent upon Democrats to be proactive with their message rather than just reacting to Republicans.
“It’s so extremely important because you have to have the people who have to implement the programs to create the jobs, and one of the focuses of having Gov. O’Malley here was to talk about infrastructure and why you need to invest in transportation and how investing in transportation helps you move forward in the future, but also helps you now for creating jobs,” the Maryland Democrat said.
“Members will be very anxious to have a place to go to,” one former Democratic leadership aide who now works on K Street said. “It’s demoralizing if there is no response. It can help keep the morale of some troops high.”
The hearings and other press events could also provide a vehicle for junior lawmakers to raise their profiles, the former leadership aide said.
Freshman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) was among the Members who participated in Wednesday’s hearings.
So far, however, it appears that Democrats are relying mainly on senior Members and Pelosi allies such as DeLauro and Miller to lead the counteroffensive. If leaders don’t bring in more moderate factions of the Caucus, the former aide cautioned, it could make it more difficult for them to unify the Caucus.
Republicans, meanwhile, used the forums to offer a shot of their own, accusing Pelosi and her leadership team of doing little to create jobs when they were in the majority over the past four years. The National Republican Congressional Committee issued a challenge to Pelosi to “admit the failure of her policies to create jobs” and described the hearing as “political theater.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.