Speaking to the Caucus on Friday, Obama offered his own praise of Pelosi and referred to her as the “soon-to-be, once-again Speaker of the House.” Touching on similar themes from his State of the Union address, Obama blasted GOP leaders and encouraged Members on the campaign trail to tout legislative accomplishments from when Democrats were in the House majority.
“We righted the ship,” Obama told the crowd. “We did not tip into a Great Depression. The auto industry was saved. Credit started flowing to small businesses again. And over the last 22 months, we have seen 3 million jobs created, the most jobs last year since 2005. ... A lot of that has to do with the tough decisions that you took.”
As Republicans prepare to defend their majority in the House, they no doubt will make issues such as health care reform and Pelosi’s leadership central to their attacks on Democratic candidates. In a statement, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay said the Democrats’ “chest-thumping relies on the suspension of disbelief.”
“Between retirements in Republican-heavy seats and House Democrats that are saddled with the albatross of a failed Obama economic agenda, Nancy Pelosi’s campaign for the Speaker’s chair gets steeper by the day,” Lindsay added.
The retirements of southern Democrats such as Reps. Mike Ross (Ark.) and Brad Miller (N.C.) make the party’s climb to win 25 seats in November far steeper. And although the party could pick up seats in states such as California and Illinois, the math to get to the magic number of 25 still seems fuzzy.
Still, aides boast that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has recruited strong candidates in districts throughout the country. On Friday, the DCCC announced it outraised the NRCC by nearly $7 million last year, although the NRCC ended December with more cash on hand.
Democrats also predicted that infighting between conservative and moderate Republicans in the House this year will lead to legislative disasters for the GOP that will play into their hands. Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.) said Republicans were holding legislation “hostage to their extreme agenda,” while Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said the party is pushing partisan priorities such as the Keystone XL pipeline project that could scuttle an extension of the payroll tax credit that expires next month.
“I hope our Republican colleagues, many of whom are on record being against the payroll [tax] cut for 160 million Americans, I hope they’re not going to use these issues to slow down the process and stop that tax cut,” said Van Hollen, who is a member of the conference committee charged with extending the tax cut and unemployment insurance, among other things.
As they sought to point out fissures in the Republican Conference, the sometimes-divided Democratic Caucus maintained it’s singing the same tune. Lawmakers presented Obama with a CD featuring their own rendition of the Al Green song “Let’s Stay Together,” giving it to him ahead of his speech. Participating in strategy sessions led by heavy hitters in the Democratic Party, Members said they were also having some fun on the Eastern Shore. Andrews said it was a good sign for the year ahead.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.