Outside groups pump ads into key districts as House nears vote on $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill

Democratic group targets an extra $1.6 million at 18 House members

New ads to boost support for a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will air in the districts of Democrats Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, left, and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, here in June with Jason Crow of Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
New ads to boost support for a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will air in the districts of Democrats Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, left, and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, here in June with Jason Crow of Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted September 28, 2021 at 4:36pm

Democratic outside groups are investing big money this week on advertising aimed at potentially vulnerable House members as the party tries to rescue a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package facing internal divisions and multimillion-dollar attacks from Republican groups.

House Majority Forward, a nonprofit affiliated with the super PAC House Majority PAC, is spending $1.6 million on TV and digital ads in 18 battleground districts over the next two weeks to build support for Democratic incumbents and President Joe Biden’s priorities.

Many of the same districts have been targeted by Republican outside groups, such as American Action Network. AAN, which is affiliated with the GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund, said last week that it would be spending $7.5 million in 24 potentially pivotal districts over the reconciliation package.

The ads come during a politically perilous week on Capitol Hill as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer also seek support to fund the federal government beyond Thursday and to raise the nation’s debt limit.

The $3.5 trillion bill, a signature priority of the Biden administration, would include government assistance for child care, paid leave, free community college and programs to combat climate change, expand health insurance access and more. Democrats plan to pay for them with tax increases on wealthy individuals and corporations.

House progressives want that package to advance before they support a separate bill, which won bipartisan Senate backing last month and would pump an additional $550 billion into infrastructure projects.

Republicans on and off Capitol Hill have ramped up their opposition to the $3.5 trillion package, and the new Democratic spending comes in response. 

“Far-right special interests and the ultra-rich continue to pour money into opposing the Democratic House Majority’s work, and we will not let that go unanswered,” Abby Curran Horrell, executive director of House Majority Forward, said in a statement detailing her group’s new ad buys, shared first with CQ Roll Call. “The Democratic House Majority is working hard to improve the economy and get our communities back to work by supporting investments in America’s infrastructure, and we will continue to help support their effort.”

The targets of Majority Forward’s spots include the seats of 18 potentially vulnerable Democratic members: 

AAN targeted many of those same members in its recent spots whose themes have included inflation and other criticism of the package

“This bill is creating a world of problems for Members in 100 different directions,” AAN President Dan Conston said in a news release about his group’s ad campaign. “Members should think long and hard before walking the plank for Pelosi when we’re only beginning to see just how toxic this bill will be back home.” 

Other groups also spending this week to buoy Democrats’ priorities include Climate Power and the League of Conservation Voters, which said Monday they were jointly spending an additional $4 million on advertising in specific House districts, including those of Harder, Davids, Stevens, Craig and Horsford, among others. That’s on top of an already announced $9 million buy from the groups earlier this month.

The Democratic outside group Building Back Together said Monday that the “war room” effort it was leading had tracked $10 million in fresh spending in key House districts — a figure that included the Climate Power and LCV buy.