As the minority party in the House with little control over what bills come to the floor, Democrats can’t really tout a legislative agenda of bills that actually have chance of becoming law in the 113th Congress. Much like they do in Washington, they can only offer suggestions about how they could make things better, and they’re expected to defend their record from when they were in charge.
The 2010 health care law, which was passed under Democratic control of the chamber, is one example. While unpopular with Republicans, Democrats are prepared throughout August to talk about the ways in which it’s helped Americans and prepare constituents for the health care exchanges scheduled to open their doors later this year.
Gun control legislation, which has been a non-starter so far in the Republican House this year after a background check bill failed in the Senate, is another. The Democratic playbook includes a “step-by-step outline for planning a successful gun violence prevention forum,” which should draw from an eclectic group of speakers: local elected officials, sportsmen’s groups, school officials, law enforcement groups, mental-health experts and a constitutional law expert.
The goal of such a forum is to communicate “the message that we can respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while also putting into place policies that reduce and prevent gun violence.”
Immigration is another area where Democrats ought to be prepared to draw hard lines in the sand, according to leadership.
Make no mistake: Democrats won’t accept anything less than a comprehensive immigration policy rewrite, and they want it signed into law before the end of the year.
They also won’t, as a unit, support the Republicans’ Kids Act, which would provide legal status for young undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents — the group Democrats call DREAMers.
Democrats also have an “Immigration Myth-Busters” section to combat notions that could derail efforts to pass an immigration bill. They use statistics to disprove that “new immigrants coming to America today aren’t learning English” and that “most immigrants are criminals.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.