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House Democrats rally behind Biden ahead of expected 2024 announcement

BALTIMORE — House Democrats are ready for a Biden 2024 campaign.

During their retreat in Baltimore this week, lawmakers from all ends of the politically diverse caucus flocked to President Biden’s side ahead of his expected 2024 announcement — and one in particular is eager for him make the bid official.

“I would like to see him announce sooner,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2020 Democratic primary, said on Thursday.

“Nobody’s surprised that Biden was not my choice in the first election for the primary,” she said at a separate point during the retreat. “But the CPC and the president and his administration have formed an incredibly strong partnership.”

Biden on a number of occasions has indicated that he will run for a second term, and first lady Jill Biden told The Associated Press last week that “pretty much” the only thing left to do is pick a time and place for the announcement.

During a visit with House Democrats at the issues conference, the president said “we have a lot of unfinished business as well to finish the job that needs to be done.”

That state-of-play jives with the sentiment among House Democrats, who believe that Biden — with legislative wins from the last Congress in tow — can and should receive another four years in the White House, looking past concerns over his lagging poll numbers and rising age.

“I do think he should run; I think he will win; I think he’s our strongest candidate,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), the No. 3 House Democrat, said during a Punchbowl News event in Baltimore on Thursday.

Aguilar, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, pointed to a number of bills Biden signed into law last Congress: the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the gun safety legislation.

“Time and time again, you know, he was able to deliver with House Democrats, with Senate Democrats, and so I think that he can and should run and he’s going to have the support of the House Democratic Caucus,” he added.

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), the chair of the center-left New Democrats Coalition, said that based on the current political map, Biden is the party’s best chance at holding the White House.

“In those 18 districts that are held by Biden Republicans, he’s the best in terms of his message and how he approaches this and the coalition that he built in 2020, coming back even stronger in 2024,” Kuster said.

Any praise offered in Charm City this week, however, was quickly drowned out by Biden’s announcement that he will sign a GOP-led resolution overturning Washington, D.C.’s revised criminal code, a decision that blindsided — and infuriated — House Democrats who believed the president would veto the measure if it landed on his desk.

The D.C. City Council unanimously passed a revised criminal code in January that, among other tenets, would do away with most mandatory sentences and lower penalties for a variety of violent offenses, including carjackings and robberies. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) vetoed the bill, which was then overridden by the council.

Days before the House was set to vote on the disapproval resolution last month, the Office of Management and Budget released a Statement of Administration Policy that said the administration opposed the measure — leading some Democrats to believe that if matters came to that point, Biden would veto the resolution. A total of 173 Democrats ultimately opposed the legislation, thinking that they sided with the White House.

But Biden informed Senate Democrats at the Capitol on Thursday — after it appeared certain that the resolution would clear the chamber — that he would not veto the measure, in part pointing to the part of the code that would decrease penalties for carjackings.

The announcement set off House Democrats — including one of his left-leaning 2024 supporters.

“I’m deeply disappointed to see the President announce he will allow Congress to overturn a D.C. law for the first time in decades,” Jayapal wrote in a statement on Friday. “This is simple: The District of Columbia must be allowed to govern itself. Democrats’ commitment to home rule should apply regardless of the substance of the local legislation.”

The dust up over the district’s crime bill, however, is unlikely to scuttle Biden’s 2024 support among his congressional colleagues. No other elected officials have signaled that they will challenge Biden in a Democratic primary. Only Marianne Williamson, a progressive who ran for the White House in 2020, has publicly announced plans to take on the president.

While Biden’s support among lawmakers remains solid, there are some outliers. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), a co-chair of the New Democrats Coalition, for months has said he does not want Biden to run again in 2024.

He re-upped that position last month.

“He’s a president of great competence and success, I admire the heck out of President Biden,” Phillips told Politico during an interview published in February. “And if he were 15-20 years younger it would be a no-brainer to nominate him, but considering his age it’s absurd we’re not promoting competition but trying to extinguish it.”

But by and large, the chorus of approval coming from House Democrats has overtaken those concerns, equipping the president with a caucus of support for when he decides to officially throw his hat into the ring.

“I certainly am very pleased to have the opportunity to be on the ballot with President Biden in 2024,” said Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), a co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) who was a frontliner in the 2022 cycle. “Unequivocally, full stop.”

“The DPCC is always united, so we agree with Representative Underwood,” said Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), the chair of the group.

Source: The Hill

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