Welch becomes first Democratic senator to call on Biden to step aside

Peter Welch on Wednesday became the first Democratic senator to call on President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2024 race. He wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that Biden should step aside for the “good of the country.”

That brings the total to 10 congressional Democrats calling on Biden to step down. Welch’s announcement comes before senior Biden advisers are slated to meet with Senate Democrats at a closed-door lunch Thursday. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had invited the group of Biden advisers in the hopes of quelling concerns from within the Democratic caucus.

Welch himself had been openly expressing reservations over Biden’s standing atop the ticket since the president’s disastrous debate in June. But Senate Democrats writ large had stopped short of calling on the president to withdraw from the race, unlike some of their House colleagues, who’s been slow rolling calls for Biden to drop out for days.

Welch is a first-term senator and considered a progressive within the caucus. In the op-ed, Welch said Biden “is a man of uncommon decency” and “cares deeply about our democracy” but that “the latest data makes it clear that the political peril to Democrats is escalating.”

“We have asked President Biden to do so much for so many for so long. … We need him to put us first, as he has done before,” the piece continued. “I urge him to do it now.”

Biden has reached out to a number of congressional leaders on the Hill and individual lawmakers to try and halt further fallout. Still, many senators have said they need to see more from the president or his campaign to prove he is up to the test of this year’s election. Polling since the debate has shown him widely trending downward, including in critical swing states. Democrats have also expressed concerns about Biden being a drag on down-ballot candidates.

The Senate has one day left before heading out of town for a one-week recess. And it remains unclear how long Senate Democrats who are on the fence about Biden are open to continuing their considerations before making a decision ultimately for or against the president. For now, most appear in limbo.

A number of Senate Democrats, however, still remain outwardly in favor of Biden continuing to top the ticket — and hope Thursday’s meeting with Biden’s team with bring their colleagues to the same conclusion.

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