Centrist New Democrats Want Bigger Role in Party's Message

Kind said the centrist group wants a bigger role in helping to shape Democrats' message. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of the New Democrat Coalition have struggled for years to make their centrist message heard in the larger, and distinctly more left-leaning, House Democratic Caucus.  

The 46 self-described "moderate" and "pro-growth" House members in the coalition say they agree with the rest of their caucus on “90 percent of the issues” — it's the remaining 10 percent that's harder to summarize. How difficult? Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., shares a joke he tells about the group to illustrate the point.  

White House Helping Democrats Shape Message to Middle Class

Kind is one of the Democrats championing more "aspirational" messaging. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The same day House Democrats are set to go to their annual issues conference in Philadelphia to discuss messaging for the 2016 election cycle, among other things, the caucus's new messaging group held its inaugural meeting on Capitol Hill.  

The newly minted, 16-member Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which was tailored specifically to be led by recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, heard Wednesday morning from David Simas, the White House director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. "The polling and focus group data that Simas presented fortified what House Democrats already believe, mainly that this is about a middle-class agenda and the sense that the government helps out the poor and gives breaks to the ultra wealthy and corporations, but if you’re in the middle you get nothing," a source present at the meeting told CQ Roll Call in an email. For much of the 2014 cycle, House Democrats focused their message on middle-class voters and the extent to which the party was prepared to fight for them on equal pay for equal work, a higher minimum wage, tax breaks for middle-income earners and an extension of the expired unemployment insurance program.  

Levin Keeps Up the Pressure for an Unemployment Extension

Levin has been among the most vocal proponents of extended unemployment benefits on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Sander M. Levin isn't giving up on an unemployment extension.  

Over the past 24 hours, the Michigan Democrat and ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee — and one of the loudest voices calling for GOP leadership to act — announced two more ways he'll try to force the issue and revive emergency unemployment benefits in the weeks ahead.  

June Agenda: Read Cantor's Memo on House GOP Plan

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out a busy legislative agenda for the remainder of June in a memo to House Republicans sent Friday, scheduling floor time to address issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs, three appropriations bills, three tax extender bills, and legislation to make gas and other energy prices cheaper. Notably absent from the agenda: any mention of immigration, an unemployment extension or the expiring Export-Import Bank.  

First up as the House returns for its "summer stretch into the swampy heat of Washington, D.C.," the Virginia Republican said the House will consider three tax extender bills next week. One bill (HR 4457) would make the 2013 small-business expensing levels permanent. Another (HR 4453) would reduce the built-in gains tax holding period to five years from its current 10. The third bill (HR 4454) would make certain charitable giving rules permanent.  

Man Accused of Threatening to Kill Boehner Over Unemployment Extension (Updated) (Video)

The lack of an unemployment extension allegedly prompted death threats against the speaker. Boehner and his wife Debbie. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:25 p.m. | An Indiana man has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly threatening to kill Speaker John A. Boehner over his refusal to pass an unemployment extension, according to court filings.  

Brandon J. Thompson, 32, of New Castle, Ind., faces federal charges for allegedly making email and telephone threats to an elected official, according to a news release. FBI agents arrested Thompson at his home Thursday night, where he admitted to the charges, according to a criminal complaint. He faced a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday morning.

Unemployment Extension Fight: Democrats Share Sad Stories to Pressure GOP

Hoyer hugs a Maryland man during a news conference about extending unemployment insurance benefits. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats brought seven unemployed people to the Capitol steps Tuesday to tell their stories in a deeply emotional — and deeply political — news conference designed to paint Republicans as heartless for not allowing a vote on an extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits.  

The people hosted by the Democrats — hailing from Baltimore to Lorraine, Ohio — one-by-one told their story about losing their jobs and about applying for work hundreds of times, only to not hear back. They described watching their unemployment benefits, benefits they need to pay their mortgages and make ends meet, disappear.  

Unemployment Extension Hearing Scrapped Thanks to Meeting Room Spat

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, 1:25 p.m. | A planned Democratic hearing on an unemployment benefits extension was quickly transformed into a news conference Tuesday, with Democrats blaming Republicans for the stalled legislation and a spat erupting over meeting space.  

Democrats changed their plans to hold a Democratic Steering and Policy hearing on the unemployment insurance issue Tuesday after Republicans balked, saying that Democrats were using the committee room improperly. Democrats accused Republicans of "kicking House Democrats out of a room" and attempting to "silence the voices of Americans" who are without unemployment benefits.  

Hoyer Wants Unemployment Extension, Immigration Rewrite Before Unpaid-For Tax Credits (Video)

Hoyer wants the House to extend unemployment insurance and work on an immigration policy rewrite. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer called Republicans to task on Thursday for bringing up unpaid-for tax extenders while allowing unemployment insurance to lapse, and suggested that all of it could be paid for if the House passed a comprehensive immigration overhaul .  

In his weekly colloquy, the Maryland Democrat told Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that it is not right for Republicans to demand that certain policies be offset — such as a "doc fix " and unemployment insurance — while the House plans to take up a $155 billion permanent research and development tax credit that is not paid for.  

Unemployment Extension Negotiations Continue: Boehner Gives Heller His Demands (Updated)

A January press conference asking Congress to extend unemployment insurance benefits. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:20 p.m. |  Speaker John A. Boehner talked to the leading Republican pushing for an unemployment insurance extension, telling Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada on Tuesday that he won't budge from demands for add-ons that would create jobs before he will put the measure on the House floor.  

"The Speaker spoke by telephone with Sen. Heller today, and told him the same thing he has told the White House since before Christmas: we're willing to look at a plan that is paid-for and includes something to help create jobs," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in a statement. "Unfortunately, Senator Reid ruled out adding jobs provisions."  

Rangel: Tea Party Does Not 'Believe the Union Won' Civil War (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


During the Congressional Black Caucus' special order hour on the House floor Monday night, Rep. Charles B. Rangel hammered the tea party not only for embracing the Confederate flag, but also for hating President Barack Obama "as much as their [Dixiecrat] predecessors probably hated Abe Lincoln."