Sen. Charles Schumer leads the message strategy for Senate Democrats and in doing so has helped frame the broader debate with Republicans on matters such as Medicare, the budget and, lately, raising the debt ceiling.
The New York Democrat also has been making calls to business leaders to lean on them to weigh in on the debt ceiling fight and encouraging colleagues to do the same. For instance, Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who has been leading regular steering committee sessions with business leaders on the Hill, have been backed by Schumer in their outreach to interests in D.C. and nationwide.
“He’s been supportive of the conversations we’ve been having to make sure that the business community is making other people aware of what the consequences would be if we don’t raise the debt ceiling,” Bennet said of Schumer.
While Schumer over the years has become a top political adviser for Reid, others in leadership, such as Durbin, are hardly inactive. Durbin, Reid’s No. 2, has been at the table in talks with the White House and House Republicans. Plus, Durbin is a founding member of the bipartisan “gang of six” — which picked up significant momentum Tuesday — and has been vocal in the steering committee sessions with business leaders, according to Hill and business community sources.
But just how successful the Democrats’ leadership dynamic proves to be might not be known until a final deal is hashed out.
“You have to define what effective is — is effective getting the Senate strategy out there or is effective Reid cutting a deal with [Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell?” one operative asked. “I would argue that that’s what Reid does best, and what Schumer does best is creating the message.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.