ICYMI: New Dems Meet with President Biden at White House
New Dem Chair Suzan DelBene: We are very closely aligned on making sure that we're successful in creating legislation to help the American people. That's why we're here, and that’s the work we’re going to continue to do.
Yesterday, New Democrat Coalition Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Vice Chairs Scott Peters (CA-52), Ami Bera (CA-07), Annie Kuster (NH-02), and Sharice Davids (KS-03) spoke following their visit with President Biden and Senior Administration Officials at the White House.
You can read a transcript of the press conference below:
Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01): We just met with the President and Senior Staff to talk about our agenda going forward. We greatly appreciate the President's time and his steady leadership through a very challenging time for our country. And so much has been done – incredible policy with the American Rescue Plan, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We're going to continue to work, and we talked about the work on a bipartisan innovation bill. We talked about the work we’re going to continue to do on a budget reconciliation bill and the work that we can do to support the President's Unity Agenda. We are so thankful again for the opportunity to be here at the White House, and we are very closely aligned on making sure that we're successful in moving great legislation forward to help the American people. That's why we're here and that’s the work we’re going to continue to do.
Reporter Question: What specific items would you like to see in the successor to BBB? What did you tell the White House, this is what you need to have in? Because there weren’t line items in the budget proposal.
Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01): First, we are 98 members strong in the New Democrat Coalition, we’re forty percent of the Democratic caucus and we’re most of the purple districts in the country, and we’re really the majority makers. We laid out an agenda for a reconciliation bill early on, we believe in doing fewer things better for longer and putting four key priorities in there. One is the RECOMPETES legislation, the other three are making sure we have a bold agenda on climate, we still support that, making sure that we keep the ACA premium subsidies and address the Medicaid gap, and that we extend the expanded Child Tax Credit. We're going to continue to work with the President and work with our Senate colleagues. We don't help anybody unless we get a bill across the finish line. So, we want to make sure we do everything possible, get as much as we can to help the American people.
Vice Chair for Policy Scott Peters: Just to add to what Suzan said. There's agreement on a lot, a lot that the New Dems would support. There doesn’t seem to be any disagreement about climate. We have a good drug pricing bill that the Senators will vote for. We think that Senator Sinema will support $1.7 trillion dollars – that's a lot of money. What we'd like to support is what the President can get passed with 50 votes in the Senate. So, we support all these things. We understand we may not get it all, but it's really important to get something passed and there’s a lot of good things we can celebrate.
Reporter Question: And do you think that the President right now is messaging for the voters in your districts? When you talk about those purple voters, do you feel like he’s embraced that with his messaging as of late?
Vice Chair for Communications Annie Kuster: Yeah, I think the State of the Union was spot-on in terms of what constituents in our districts, purple districts, are talking about right now. I think he has a lot in the Unity Agenda going forward. You know, this has been the most challenging time, certainly in our lifetimes, coming out of pandemic. Take yourself back to March of 2020, we were trying to fend off a total economic collapse in the face of a highly contentious pandemic and people are tired of it coming out of that. So, we're making a pivot as he [President Biden] did in his unity agenda to mental health and to addiction. A number of issues that we're working on in our Coalition and in our committees. And we look forward to more wins and bringing more wins to the American people – and that’s what we talked about today.
Reporter Question: The President today called on Congress to pass new COVID funding and at the briefing today, Kate Bedingfield said that negotiations are ongoing. Do you have a sense of how close a deal is to actually getting this over the finish line? And will this get done in time? Because the President says that it has to get done now because some of these medicines are going to basically run out in May.
Chair Suzan DelBene: We agree this is critically important. We’re strongly supportive of getting COVID funds out there, so we're going to keep working with the Administration, but also with the Senate, to make sure this passes the Senate because we don't help anybody until we get something across the finish line.
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