Once 'cocky' Democrats recalibrate ambitions in Congress amid election setbacks

By Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Any significant legislative policy changes would rely heavily on the bipartisan bona fides and Senate relationships Biden touted on the campaign trial. While much has been made about the potential for deal-making between Biden and McConnell, who worked side by side in the Senate and cut some agreements during the Obama administration, the two have not yet spoken since the election was called for Biden.

Some moderate Democrats like the idea of essentially being forced to work with Republicans, especially with Biden in the White House.

"The operating premise that Republicans will never work with us, period? We need to test that. We may find out that that's true," Peters said. "Mitch McConnell can't blame Trump anymore for not giving him any leeway. The Senate is going to be exposed" to pressure from both the House and White House.

Others place their hope in the idea that if Trump is out of office, Senate Republicans may be more willing to find areas of agreement.

If the House and White House decide to do a high-pressure campaign on immigration policy, for instance, that would amount to "an incredible amount of pressure that I think will lead to undocumented youth getting the legal status that they would get under Dream Act," said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.


Some Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, cite immigration as one policy area in which they, too, hope for bipartisan compromise. While it has been attempted several times without success in the past, recent court decisions invalidating the Trump administration's changes to Dreamers' legal protections could force lawmakers to decide whether to grant permanent legal status to young people who came to the country as children.

Lofgren's ambitious rewrite of immigration policy appears unlikely in 2021, but she doesn't regret the deep-dive read this summer.

"You start out dreaming big," she said. "And then you have to confront the realities as you talk to other people who have different ideas. And then you end up hopefully with something that serves the country better than the current law."

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