Democrats in swing districts mixed on whether Build Back Better can salvage majority

Planned Parenthood lost about 14,000 voters in its top 80 target districts in 2016, according to a study by the messaging firm Public Opinion Strategies Democrats in swing districts mixed on whether Build Back…

Democrats in swing districts mixed on whether Build Back Better can salvage majority

Planned Parenthood lost about 14,000 voters in its top 80 target districts in 2016, according to a study by the messaging firm Public Opinion Strategies

Democrats in swing districts mixed on whether Build Back Better can salvage majority

Democrats in seven swing districts won’t say whether they will back Mitch McConnell’s bill to rebuild some of the thousands of homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

The Republican Senate majority leader has said the bill, dubbed Build Back Better, will act as a down payment on the long-term recovery of Texas and Florida, which were both ravaged by hurricanes last year.

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The House passed the legislation in July, but it’s unclear if the Senate will follow suit.

McConnell said he had “agonized” over the measure, where it’s been debated whether it’s viable to build infrastructure in the wake of a disaster.

McConnell said: “A disaster is a disaster is a disaster. There’s nothing good about it.”

Prominent Republicans, such as Texas governor Greg Abbott, have urged President Donald Trump to sign the bill as a stopgap measure to prevent an economic slowdown and will try to attach it to a short-term government funding bill.

Democrats from the affected areas have voiced opposition to the measure, with California congresswoman Julia Brownley insisting that it “crushes the possibility of rebuilding homes and roads in Louisiana”.

Several Republicans have also raised concerns about the bill, ranging from the need for federal accountability to bigger questions about whether the bill will do enough to shore up US infrastructure.

Other Republicans are worried the legislation may not be enough to satisfy the public’s appetite for infrastructure improvements. “I am very concerned that the public will hear about the $12bn that we have allocated, and think the $25bn that the Congress of the United States allocated is simply not enough,” US representative Steve Stivers, of Ohio, told a weekly conference call for House Republicans last month.

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Victory Democrats, an organization that supports underdog candidates for office, and NRCC, the committee that helps Republican candidates in competitive races, were among groups to answer in the negative about the bill.

“We have different questions about what it means,” Jackie Meyers, the national press secretary for Victory Democrats, told the Guardian. “In most districts there aren’t going to be shelters that should be abandoned after three weeks.”

Meyers noted that the House recently passed a $24bn bill to pay for the rebuilding effort in Texas and Florida, but that the Senate has yet to take up the bill, and that her organization opposes the recent legislation as a stopgap measure.

In the run-up to the 2016 elections, efforts by Republicans to make social issues central to the presidential race had an effect that helped them win control of the Senate as well as some races in the US House.

“There was a terrible climate in 2016 for social issues,” said Meyers. “So that’s not an issue anymore. They’re only talking about the economy and how the president is doing. They see it as a strong base-building issue.”

Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican communications firm that conducted the polling with Victory Democrats, is running a campaign called “Vote Blue, Rep Renew” that is pushing voters in competitive seats to vote for candidates who support protecting abortion rights.

“It’s just become such a no-brainer for everybody,” said Kevin Lamarque, the vice president of communications at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in an interview. “When I’m on the phone with my friends on the radio and television, they are always running the stats: Democrats control Congress and the White House and they want to make 2018 a referendum on the president’s performance.

“There’s no party advantage in holding Democrats accountable for how they voted,” Lamarque said.

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