Democrats campaign on string of victories in Congress

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Democrats are rolling out a series of campaign ads touting a recent string of legislative victories in the hope that a productive session in Congress will translate to success in the November midterm elections.

Using the tagline “Democrats, delivering for America’s families,” House Majority PAC, a political action committee closely aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), released an ad this week celebrating the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the drug pricing and clean energy provisions of the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden will sign into law Tuesday.

The flurry of legislative activity this session is a change of fortunes for Democrats, who are facing an uphill battle to retain control of Congress in November. Faced with an economy teetering on the edge of a recession and low job approval ratings for Biden, Democrats are expected to lose the House in the midterm elections and will struggle to retain the 50-50 Senate.

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Coming into the August recess, vulnerable Democrats in key Senate races are hoping to use the passage of a veterans bill, in particular, to convince voters that they are effective lawmakers.

Sen. Raphael Warnock‘s (D-GA) campaign released an ad this month featuring a Marine thanking Warnock for the legislation, which provides healthcare funding for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals.

“The fire went on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there was no way to avoid breathing it in. We were there to serve our country, but in the process, we were exposed to toxic chemicals and denied proper care when we got home,” said a man in the commercial, identified as Cpl. Adam Tomblin. “But Raphael Warnock has changed things. He helped pass a law to expand healthcare for tens of thousands of Georgia veterans. It wouldn’t have happened without Sen. Warnock, and we won’t forget that.”

In the Ohio Senate race, Democrat Tim Ryan used the veterans bill, known as the PACT Act, to paint his GOP opponent, J.D. Vance, as indifferent to the concerns of veterans.

“J.D. Vance was asked about the Honoring our PACT Act, and this was his response: ‘This specific legislation … I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about it,'” Susan Zeier, one of the activists who backed the legislation, said in an Aug. 4 ad. “His actions told me he doesn’t care. We can’t afford to have a senator who doesn’t pay attention to veterans issues. I trust that Tim Ryan will always have the backs of Ohio veterans.”

Congress is in recess until September, making August one of the busiest and most crucial campaign periods. The decision by vulnerable Democrats to come out of the gate touting the veterans bill, an overwhelmingly bipartisan piece of legislation, may reflect a tacit acknowledgment that partisan accomplishments such as the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed along party lines, could prove to be a liability in swing states. The Senate passed the veterans bill earlier this month in a bipartisan 86-11 vote.

Democrats are by no means avoiding the Inflation Reduction Act, instead highlighting the provisions the party feels will play best with voters. Sen. Maggie Hassan, running for reelection in New Hampshire, a competitive state that election analysts say leans left, highlighted the prescription drug and energy provisions of the bill on Monday. Hassan won her seat in 2016 by just over 1,000 votes.

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Republicans have seized on certain tax provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, arguing that funding to bolster the number of IRS agents will result in more lower- and middle-class families being audited, something the White House has denied. Although the legislation won’t raise taxes on ordinary households, a key pledge Biden made on the campaign trail in 2020, Republicans argue higher taxes imposed on corporations in the bill will hurt workers.