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Tensions rise as Congressional Democrats urge Biden to reconsider reelection

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Returning to the capital on Monday, U.S. congressional Democrats are grappling with a pressing concern: the potential impact of President Joe Biden’s reelection bid on their chances of reclaiming a House majority in the upcoming November 5th election. With President Biden’s campaign facing significant turbulence, calls from within the party for him to reconsider his run are growing louder.

In the aftermath of a challenging debate on June 27 against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, Biden’s campaign has remained on the defensive. Subsequent public appearances have done little to assuage doubts among Democrats about his ability to endure another four years in office and secure a victory against Trump.

The stakes are high for Democrats, who are not only defending a precarious 51-49 Senate majority but also see recapturing the House as a critical objective, especially if Trump, 78, were to return to the presidency. The concern is that Biden’s faltering campaign could hinder these efforts.

Despite the mounting pressure, Biden, 81, has been steadfast in his commitment to the race, asserting that he is the best candidate to defeat Trump, whom he views as a threat to American democratic values. The President’s campaign strategy involves continuing to engage with voters at grassroots levels, including visits to churches and union halls, while also reaching out to long-time congressional allies to mitigate growing concerns.

A significant number of Democratic lawmakers have voiced apprehensions regarding Biden’s lagging public approval ratings, citing his age and perceived capabilities as potential liabilities in the most competitive House races. Vice President Kamala Harris is widely considered the frontrunner to succeed Biden should he decide to step aside.

“Currently, our down-ballot candidates in both the Senate and House are performing well. They are outpacing the President, but there’s a limit to how far they can distance themselves,” said Democratic Representative Adam Schiff on NBC’s Sunday program. Schiff, who is running for Senate in California, emphasized the gravity of Biden’s decision on the future of the Democratic Party and the country.

Hardline Republican Representative Chip Roy recently proposed that the House vote on a resolution urging Vice President Harris to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows the Cabinet to declare the President unable to perform his duties, thereby installing the Vice President as acting President. This echoes a similar move late in Trump’s presidency, following the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, when the House urged Vice President Mike Pence to initiate the 25th Amendment process.

Biden sought to reassure his party with a series of campaign stops in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, over the weekend.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed that one in three Democratic registered voters believe Biden should withdraw from the race, with 59% citing his age as a significant concern. Senator Mark Warner has reportedly been attempting to organize a meeting among Senate Democrats to discuss Biden’s campaign, although participation remains uncertain.

House Democrats are also contemplating support for draft letters urging Biden to reconsider his candidacy.

Biden’s campaign difficulties have seemingly broadened the scope of races for Democrats to worry about. Internal polls indicate heightened competitiveness in states like New Mexico and Virginia post-debate, and the nonpartisan Center for Politics at the University of Virginia recently adjusted its ratings for Michigan and Minnesota, making them more favorable for Republicans. These states are pivotal, hosting several of the most contested House races, crucial given the Republicans’ narrow 219-213 control of the chamber.

Republicans’ tenure in the majority has been marked by internal chaos, including the unprecedented ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Both McCarthy and his successor, Mike Johnson, have had to rely on Democratic votes to pass essential legislation, such as bills to prevent government shutdowns and avoid a catastrophic default on national debt.

The prospect of Trump winning the presidency and Republicans controlling Congress would present few barriers to significant policy shifts. Democrats face an uphill battle in capturing the House if they lose the presidency.

“It would be historically unusual for Democrats to flip the House while simultaneously losing the White House,” remarked Kyle Kondik, managing editor of “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” at the University of Virginia. “Any decline in Democrats’ standing in the presidential race is likely to adversely affect their chances in the House races.”

As the clock ticks closer to the November election, Democrats are at a crossroads, weighing the potential risks and benefits of urging a sitting President to step down in the hope of securing broader electoral success.

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