President Joe Biden rounded out a week of face time with congressional Democrats on Thursday, joining the Senate caucus for a luncheon after he met with House members a day earlier to talk achievements and priorities under divided government with an eye toward 2024.
“We had a great meeting,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said as he and Biden exited the lunch on Thursday. “We talked about implementing the great accomplishments of the president of the last two years. We believe that we can get a lot of good bipartisan stuff done these two years. We are filled with unity, optimism and optimism about 2024.”
During the hour-long lunch, Biden reportedly spoke with Democrats about a range of topics important to members – from the revised D.C. criminal code to the issues related to the debt limit. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said after the meeting that Democrats were united on the debt ceiling issue, which has worried economists in recent weeks as a deadline to raise the threshold looms amid partisan bickering. She pointed to a commitment from Biden to release his budget proposal next week, while encouraging House Republicans to do the same.
But the president also appeared to be working to shore up support and enthusiasm within his party ahead of a reelection announcement that is seeming all but inevitable.
Indeed, a number of Democrats touted the unity of the conference ahead of Thursday’s closed-door meeting week, despite the inability to get much done due to a narrow majority in the upper chamber, health-related absences in recent weeks and defections from centrists who are up for reelection in 2024. On Wednesday, two Senate Democrats – Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Jon Tester of Montana – sided with Republicans on a measure that would repeal a Biden administration investment rule in a move that will likely deliver Biden’s first veto of his presidency.
Manchin, who has also been critical of the White House on the debt ceiling this week, told reporters as he exited the meeting that Biden spoke on another matter – a bill spearheaded by House Republicans that would block D.C.’s revised criminal code. Biden told Democrats he would not use his veto power, instead allowing the GOP effort to reject the locally approved law that Republicans fear will contribute to rising crime. In a tweet after the meeting, Biden confirmed that he would sign the bill should the Senate approve it, while reiterating his support for “home rule” when it comes to D.C. policies.
The meeting with Senate Democrats came after Biden addressed House Democrats in a fiery speech at their retreat on Wednesday in Baltimore, where he touted achievements under a Democrat-controlled Congress during the last two years.
“It’s been one of the most successful and united caucuses we have ever seen,” Biden said, while naming a number of priorities – from a ban on assault-style weapons to police and immigration reform – that are yet to be realized.
With a Republican majority in the House, Democrats are unlikely to approve those priorities in the next two years. But the president, who has yet to announce a reelection campaign, seemed to suggest that his time in the White House is not nearing its end.
“There’s so much more to do,” the president said.
And on Thursday, when asked when Biden would announce his reelection, Biden quipped, “when I announce it.”
The anticipation of another presidential bid has recently seemed to shift toward the positive among fellow Democrats, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National poll released last week, which found that a plurality of 50% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believing that their party has a better chance of winning the White House with Biden as its nominee in a “major shift in public opinion.”
Meanwhile, the 2024 field is beginning to shake out among Republicans, some of whom have gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this week.
Source: US news