One of the 31 House Democrats who so far have announced they will not seek reelection this year has slammed her party’s leadership in an interview published on Friday.
In an interview published by Politico, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), the head of the party’s “Blue Dog” caucus who announced in December she won’t seek a third term, said that party leaders tried to “beat moderates into submission” during talks over President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
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For instance, the party’s moderates pushed back on party leaders’ attempts to get them to go along with a $1.8 trillion social spending package that was linked to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
Though both eventually passed the House separately, the former legislation has met insurmountable Democratic moderate opposition in the Senate when Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginian said in December he could not support it.
“I felt from the start that was a failed strategy,” Murphy, the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, said of attempts to connect the infrastructure bill and social spending package.
“I also felt like you can’t promise rainbows and unicorns when you know that you don’t have the votes for it.”
She also said that with Democrats holding very small majorities in Congress, the party’s leaders did not have much “tolerance” for members to vote in a way that would possibly allow them to hang on to their moderate districts.
“It’s unfortunate because I think in order for us as Democrats to hold the majority, you have to be able to win in seats like mine and in redder seats. That means you have to cut your members a little bit of leeway to vote their district,” Murphy explained.
“This march toward party unity is going to be detrimental to our ability to lead the agenda for this country,” she added.