House Democrats Talk Frustration, Loyalty To Biden In Closed-Door Session

Faced with an internal split over whether to keep Joe Biden as the party’s presidential nominee, House Democrats did something unusual Tuesday.

They kept their mouths shut.

Leaving a weekly party meeting, most Democrats opted to keep quiet or simply say it had been a good meeting when asked how the discussion went, trying to leave little fuel for the narrative that they are in disarray.

The mum’s-the-word approach from the usually chatty Democrats, known for not adhering to party message discipline, was a sign of how riven the caucus is over how to proceed. A person briefed on the meeting afterward described the mood as “sad and frustrated.”

While Democrats succeeded in keeping most signs of disagreement hidden, that doesn’t mean they have come to any sort of consensus. And with Congress set to leave town Thursday for a week and Biden all but daring congressional Democrats to move against him, the window to pull back his nomination, even if there were a consensus to do so, is closing fast.

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) said he still supports the president, but sounded annoyed that support for Biden was still a point of contention.

“I think this is a circular firing squad. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen where instead of taking it to the criminal, we’re taking it to the good guy,” he told reporters after leaving the meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee instead of on the U.S. Capitol campus.

Despite the disagreement, though, Vargas said the discussion was “respectful.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who was the first to call for replacing Biden as the nominee, also used “respectful” to describe the meeting. “There are clearly some differences on this,” he said.

“I continue to maintain my position we would be better served by a stronger candidate,” Doggett said.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who had been seen as one of the more high-profile skeptics about Biden and his ability to take on Trump, also did not want to ruffle feathers.

“Let’s just say we are all fighting for complete Democratic victory, from top to bottom. That’s all I really want to say,” Raskin said.

“The Democrats are very unified and that’s all I want to say right now,” he added.

Even Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who was reported to have been one of the four committee ranking members to say earlier in the week that Biden should step aside, was singing a seemingly new tune.

“He’s our nominee and we’ve got to elect him,” Nadler said as he left the meeting.

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