“The path to a majority was in moderate and right-of-center districts, so de facto, the Democratic caucus will grow to the center,” said Steve Israel, a former Democratic House member from New York who previously managed the party’s campaign effort. “If the Democratic agenda is about two things, impeaching Trump and abolishing ICE, it is going to be 2008 all over again — two years later, and you lose your majority.”
Top among the issues they campaigned on was health care.
After losing their grip on the House in 2010 in a backlash to the Affordable Care Act, Democrats were able to regain a majority by emphasizing their commitment to health insurance coverage while capitalizing on deep voter dissatisfaction with the president in the suburbs. The Democratic victory in the House, and the fact that Republicans were put on the defensive on the issue, means that the stalled effort to repeal the new health care law is dead, for now.
Instead, Democrats intend to emphasize legislation that would lower the cost of prescription drugs, with a goal of getting a bill into the Senate and making Republicans take a stand on the issue. It is one area where House Democrats may align more with Mr. Trump, who has also embraced efforts to lower drug costs, than Senate Republicans.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader who saw his Republican ranks expand Tuesday, acknowledged Wednesday that repeal was off the table. But he said that continued problems with the health care law still needed to be addressed, only now on a bipartisan basis. “Rhetoric doesn’t solve the problem,” he said.
Democrats said their party must take advantage of its new power, not only to confront Mr. Trump, but to showcase what a future Democratic government would look like.
“As opposed to when we were in the minority trying to find a message, we now have an opportunity to push an agenda that shows what we would do if we had control of the Senate and White House, as well,” said Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky and the incoming Budget Committee chairman.