Top House Democrat to Hold Weekend Meeting as Anxiety Builds

(Bloomberg) — House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Friday night abruptly scheduled an unusual weekend meeting with top Democratic colleagues as party anxiety festers over whether Joe Biden should remain in the presidential race.

Even as the Democratic establishment on Capitol Hill and elsewhere continued to publicly support Biden’s campaign, a handful have broken ranks. Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota said on X on Saturday that the president should step aside. On Friday, Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois told MSNBC that he shouldn’t run.

Separately, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner of Virginia and other Democrats worried about Biden’s political viability have discussed seeking a meeting with him, according to a person familiar with the conversations among senators. Warner’s view is that Biden has a lot of work to do to show he can defeat Donald Trump and should remain the nominee, the person said.

Jeffries hasn’t provided the lawmakers, top committee Democrats, with a specific topic for the Sunday afternoon virtual session, which was confirmed by a House Democratic official who’s familiar with the plan. 

Yet the meeting will occur just a day before the House reconvenes in Washington for the first time since Biden’s disastrous debate performance with Trump on June 27, which sent tremors across the party ecosystem. House Democrats will hold a broader, caucus-wide closed-door meeting on July 9. 

A number of those Democrats are publicly raising questions about whether Biden can defeat Trump and has the mental and physical stamina for four more years in office.

The planned Sunday meeting was reported earlier by NBC News.

Earlier, Biden told reporters that Warner was the only senator considering calling on him to exit the race, after the Washington Post reported that Warner was leading an effort to do just that. Biden added that members of Congress have been telling him to stay in the contest, and vowed to do so in a speech in Wisconsin and in an interview with ABC on Friday night.

Earlier: Biden’s Political Future Seen in Doubt by Some Senate Democrats

But a Democratic senator told Bloomberg earlier this week that a number of his colleagues have privately indicated they don’t see a way for Biden to survive politically.

Some lawmakers in competitive districts — and others who are not — are expressing worries, largely in private, over the down-ballot effects of the debate fallout and what it means for the chances of Democrats taking back the House majority or holding onto their narrow control of the Senate. 

Before Quigley’s remarks, a couple of other congressional Democrats have gone so as far as to call for Biden to withdraw from the presidential race.

“Your legacy is set,” Quigley said of Biden. “We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude. The only thing you can do now to cement that for all time and prevent utter catastrophe is to step down and let someone else do this.”

Publicly, Jeffries has remained supportive of Biden, but he has been fielding calls from rank-and-file members.

(Updates with Craig statement in second paragraph.)

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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