If you’re looking for signs that the House could be in play in 2014, there are plenty in the wake of the government shutdown. Between the macro trends (growing D leads on the generic ballot) and the race-by-race developments (a crop of new recruits running), Democrats have reasons to be cautiously optimistic.
— The most encouraging news for the party is on the recruitment front. Party operatives now expect to land a number of recruits in both: a) swing districts where serious challengers usually don’t run, even in good years; b) Republican-friendly seats where challengers only run in strong Democratic years, like 2006 and 2008.
— To wit: Dems are closing to landing a former gubernatorial nominee (Alex Sink) to run in FL-13, and a former congressman’s son (Bill Hughes, Jr.) to challenge Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ). Neither seat has been in play for decades. In solidly-Republican suburban seats around Omaha (NE-02), Little Rock (AR-02) and South Bend (IN-02), Dems expect to recruit moderate candidates capable of winning crossover voters. These races alone aren’t enough to tip the majority, but if they’re indicative of a trend, stay tuned.
— This recruiting boomlet is a product of the more favorable national landscape for Dems. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Dems holding an 8-point lead on the generic, with Americans’ approval of their own representative at an all-time low (43%/47%). The only silver lining for the GOP: Obama‘s approval remains mediocre, and even a D+8 isn’t a guarantee of picking up the 17 seats necessary for control. Also: this is the GOP’s low-water mark, and the Dem numbers will probably take a hit given Obamacare’s implementation woes.
It wasn’t long ago that there was talk about widespread voter dissatisfaction leading to permanent wave elections. That’s still not likely this time, but the potential exists as voter approval continues to hit record lows.
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Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
"President Trump informed Mexican President Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday afternoon that he will not pull the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite reports earlier in the day that he had considered doing so. ... The three leaders agreed to proceed quickly with renegotiation plans as the initial review process comes to a close."
"A new bill to revive a permanent nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nev., fails to address the concerns of Nevada lawmakers, suggesting the latest attempt may not resolve a 20-year impasse over the issue." The state's congressional delegation "shared their opposition to the nuclear waste policy amendment during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing focused on the legislation," and promised that Gov. Brian Sandoval would oppose it at every turn. "The new bill aims to finally use some $31 billion that has accumulated in the Nuclear Waste Fund, set aside in 1982 to collect specifically for a permanent repository."