Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney said Wednesday that Republican efforts to paint his party as socialists intent on defunding the police amount to “Republican caricature.”
“There’s always going to be one or two members of any congressional caucus that say things that don’t represent the majority position. What I’m telling you is we pass legislation, that is the statement of where the Democratic party is in the House,” Maloney (D-N.Y.) said during a Wednesday event with POLITICO Playbook authors Rachael Bade and Eugene Daniels.
Of the bills Democrats have passed, he said, “not one of them had anything to do with socialism or defunding the police.” Rather, Republicans are using a broad brush to misrepresent Democrats, Maloney said.
Maloney’s remarks reflect an intraparty struggle that plagued Democrats last cycle, when House Democrats expected to expand their majority but instead saw their edge in the chamber narrow dramatically. In the aftermath of the election, some moderate Democrats blamed rhetoric from the party’s progressive wing around socialism and defund the police for the lackluster general election results.
Republicans have long sought to make political hay from Democrats’ left flank, working in last year’s election to tie President Joe Biden to progressive lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). That work by the GOP has continued as it looks to label Biden’s agenda as the product of left-wing pressure.
The issue has reemerged in recent days, as the House prepares to vote next week on a police reform bill that has prompted a small group of moderate Democrats to privately pressure leadership to water down one of the bill’s most controversial aspects and look for a bipartisan solution.
Moving forward, Democrats need to engage with activists and embrace social justice movements, finding a way to deliver “constructive reforms,” Maloney said.
The DCCC chair added that he expects Democrats to hold the House majority in the upcoming election cycle even though Republicans will wield much of the control in redrawing district maps after last year’s census.
“What’s clear to me is the Republican Party thinks its only way back to power is to gerrymander the districts all to hell or to suppress the vote,” he said.
Maloney said Democrats will continue to focus on important issues like beating the pandemic and restoring the economy, while noting the difficult position Republicans are in, as they try to navigate a post-Trump party in the midst of a civil war over the former president’s future in the GOP.
Republicans, too, have struggled with their party’s ideological fringe. Controversial GOP freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has been linked to far-right conspiracy theories, including QAnon, and was stripped of her committee assignments because of her affiliations. However, Maloney said the debate over Greene pointed to a larger problem within the Republican Party.
“It’s not just QAnon,” he said. “It’s about whether the Republican Party is bankrupt of ideas and chasing its tail on these very dark conspiracy theories or other divisive things like exploiting the issue of racial justice for political gain.”
He defended Democrats running attack ads against Republican members linking them to these fringe elements of the party, saying that the ads are aimed at those who voted not to certify the results of the 2020 election and who oppose the Covid relief bill.
Maloney said the DCCC will conduct a deep dive looking at the 2020 election, focusing on not only what went wrong with issues such as polling, but also what went right, especially in the two Georgia Senate races that helped Democrats take control of that chamber. He refused to call it an autopsy, pointing out that it was Democrats who took control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.
“If there’s one party that should be doing an autopsy, it’s the Republicans because they got shut out at the White House, the Senate and in the House,” he said.