Democratic Party

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, an outspoken and sometimes controversial figure in Florida and Washington, D.C., has died after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

Hastings began his career as a civil rights lawyer. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to a U.S. District Court seat, making him Florida's first African American federal judge.

Updated March 24, 2021 at 8:36 AM ET

Sen. Tammy Duckworth and the White House broke an impasse over the Illinois Democrat's pledge to block President Biden's nominees who aren't diverse candidates as a protest over a lack of Asian American representation in the new administration.

Under their deal announced late Tuesday, the White House will add a senior liaison to the community and, in exchange, Duckworth will support Biden's nominees.

Joe Biden ran on competence and experience, and he chose a chief of staff known for both: Ron Klain.

"We're seeing a functioning White House. Go figure," says Chris Whipple, who wrote The Gatekeepers, a book about White House chiefs of staff. "That's a tribute to Klain."

In the first 49 days of the administration, Klain has had a big win and also a notable loss, but he entered the role with broad experience and a good relationship with the president.

Taking the win

House Democrats are planning a strategic wave of party priority legislation on everything from guns to immigration, even as none — if any — of the bills is likely to pass a 50-50 Senate.

"We believe these bills enjoy overwhelming support among Democrats, Republicans and independents among the American people," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said this week. "Frankly, we don't know why that support, particularly in terms of Republican support, doesn't translate to the members of the House or the Senate."

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

President Biden wasn't many progressives' first, second, third — or maybe even 20th — choice in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

But ever since winning the party's nomination last spring amid the onset of the global pandemic and economic downturn, Biden has vowed to govern as the most progressive president since Franklin Roosevelt. He's even made a large portrait of FDR the centerpiece of his Oval Office to underscore that goal.

When Congress reconvened the night of the Jan. 6 riot to finish certifying the Electoral College results, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., huddled with top Democrats on the House floor.

"I was on the dais with [Speaker Nancy Pelosi], and the speaker and I, and also [House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.], had a conversation about a bipartisan approach and a bipartisan commission, or a bicameral commission, to move things forward to find out what went wrong," he told NPR. "Unfortunately that bipartisan discussion didn't last too long."

One of the key aims of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill is to send money to people who were already at risk of falling behind on bills or slipping into poverty.

Democrats say the relief bill set to pass the House Friday includes several new programs intended to create a new social safety net that some in the party are comparing to a new, smaller version of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.

Shortly after Election Day last year, veteran Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York joined three newly elected House Democrats in their call for incoming President Biden to use his executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt.

"I have spoken to him. I have told him how important it is. He is considering it," Schumer said at a New York press conference with then-Reps.-elect Mondaire Jones, Ritchie Torres and Jamaal Bowman. Months earlier, Schumer had backed Bowman's primary opponent, longtime incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel.

It's been about a month since Democrats flipped Georgia's two Senate seats in high-profile January runoffs, sending Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to Washington, D.C., and handing the party narrow control of the chamber.

One key to the stunning upsets were the roughly 225,000 new voters who didn't vote in November but turned out in January, a disproportionate number of whom were people of color.

"That's just the math," said Bernard Fraga, a political scientist at Emory University who has studied the turnout data.

Updated at 4:08 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate voted 50-49 along party lines on Tuesday to advance a budget resolution, setting up a lengthy push to approve $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief requested by President Biden.

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