Vulnerable Democrats, Seeking Distance From the Left, Offer a Midterm Agenda

It is no accident that the document is circulating just before Mr. Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, and the following week’s House Democratic “issues” retreat.

The dozens of bills listed in the agenda all have Democratic and Republican authors, many of them endangered either by anti-Democratic momentum or by challengers endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump.

One such bill, written by Representatives Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, and Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, would make permanent Medicare tele-health expansions undertaken during the pandemic. There is a diabetes prevention bill by Representatives Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, and Tom Rice of South Carolina, a Republican who, like Ms. Cheney, voted to impeach Mr. Trump. An expansion of tax-favored education savings accounts is co-sponsored by Ms. Spanberger and Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, another Republican who voted to impeach. Also included is a significant expansion of eligibility for child and adult nutrition programs, drafted by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Democrat of Oregon, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican facing a serious Trump-backed challenge for her impeachment vote.

There are even incentives for utilities to invest in cybersecurity written by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the Democrat who has raised the contempt of the left by blocking the social policy and climate change bill in the Senate, and refusing to join his party in changing the filibuster rule to pass voter protection legislation over Republican opposition.

But most striking is how the draft agenda takes on issues that appear to be dominating the campaign trail, even if they have not generated much debate on the floors of the House and the Senate.

To beat back inflation, one bill the group is pushing would “prohibit” foreign governments from participating in cartel-like activities, a hit at OPEC that would have no real impact. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would be granted the authority to order refunds for natural gas bills “that are unjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory or preferential.” And assistance would be given to new and small meat processors to combat monopoly pricing from the few dominant meat processors, an effort already underway by the Biden administration.

Rising crime rates across the country would also receive attention, through an expansion of existing grants to local law enforcement, new safety requirements for ride-hailing companies, stronger reporting requirements for electronic communication service providers to help track child predators and a new federal crime designation for “porch pirates” who steal packages from home stoops.

Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics

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