December 2, 2021

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The Congressional Black Caucus Was Key to the Infrastructure Vote – The New York Times

2 min read

Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a key centrist Democrat, has sketched out a statement with Mr. Jeffries and a fellow New Jerseyan, liberal Democrat Donald Norcross, early that afternoon that they hoped could be signed by balking moderates to placate liberals worried that the centrists might tank their social policy bill.

By 10 p.m., that effort was in high gear. Mr. Gottheimer had brought his laptop to the office of Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida, where she, Joe Neguse of Colorado, Kathleen Rice of New York and Kurt Schrader of Oregon sat shoulder to shoulder around a table and hammered out the final language. Mr. Biden spoke by phone to Mr. Gottheimer, relaying language that liberals said they needed.

Analysts and party advisers said Democrats would need to now quickly pivot and shift the conversation to selling the many elements of the legislation to the public or risk any success being lost in the cacophony of internal disputes and Republican attacks.

“Basically the sausage making and the sum have taken over the contents,” said David Axelrod, who was President Barack Obama’s chief political adviser. “They need to disaggregate this, take the individual elements and own them, claim them and brag about them. And as people start seeing and feeling them, they need to take credit for it.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House deputy press secretary, said the administration was prepared to dispatch senior officials to promote Mr. Biden’s agenda after the passage of the legislative package.

“We have to go out there and talk about these bills,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said . “We’ll get out there, we’ll do a blitz and make sure that messaging is out there on what we have done and how we’ve delivered for the American people.”

But some Democrats had to concede their pessimism. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the face of youthful liberal activism, recounted how the generous benefits approved early this year in Mr. Biden’s pandemic relief law had done little to stem the election losses on Tuesday. Voters’ short-term memory, combined with new voting restrictions and partisan redistricting in Republican-controlled states, and Democrats are in trouble, she said, regardless of their achievements.

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