Former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton appeared to single out progressive lawmakers for criticism in a recent interview, warning that an inability to “get things done” could cost Democrats the House and Senate in next year’s midterm elections.
“I think that it is a time for some careful thinking about what wins elections, and not just in deep-blue districts where a Democrat and a liberal Democrat, or so-called progressive Democrat, is going to win,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Willie Geist. “I understand why people want to argue for their priorities. That’s what they believe they were elected to do.”
Clinton’s interview with Geist was recorded earlier this month, but parts of it aired Thursday.
The former senator from New York added that she was “all about having vigorous debate. I think it’s good, and it gives people a chance to be part of the process.
“But at the end of the day it means nothing if we don’t have a Congress that will get things done, and we don’t have a White House that we can count on to be sane and sober and stable and productive.”
Clinton’s remarks come after House progressives attacked Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, over his opposition to President Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better social spending package.
When Manchin, a crucial vote in the 50-50 divided Senate, announced on Fox News Dec. 19 that he could not vote for the current version of the spending package, liberal Democrats accused him of going back on his word and ignoring the needs of his Mountain State constituents.
Progressives refused to vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package unless the Senate first passed Build Back Better to keep pressure on Manchin, who was negotiating its cost and some of its provisions with the White House.
The two pieces of legislation were eventually decoupled after Biden gave assurances that Manchin was on board with the massive social spending plan.
Following Manchin’s announcement, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) denounced the West Virginian’s reasons for opposing it as “bulls—.”
“The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans,” she wrote in a tweet. “This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) accused the Democratic senator of “obstructing” Biden’s domestic agenda.
“He has continued to move the goalposts, he has never negotiated in good faith. and he is obstructing the President’s agenda. 85 percent of which is still left on the table. And in obstructing the president’s agenda, he is obstructing the people’s agenda,” Pressley said in an interview with CNN.
Clinton’s warning also follows Republican Glenn Youngkin’s surprise win in the November governor’s race in Virginia, a state that Biden won by 10 percentage points in 2020.
Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor, by focusing on parents’ right to have a say in their child’s education and the debate over teaching of critical race theory in public schools.