- Rep. Spanberger told The New York Times that voters didn’t elect President Biden to govern like FDR.
- The congresswoman said that voters sent Biden to the White House “to be normal and stop the chaos.”
- Biden responded on Saturday, calling Spanberger “a friend” and saying he mold his own presidency.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia said earlier this week that “nobody” elected President Joe Biden to pursue sweeping legislation similar to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s transformative New Deal, but because they wanted someone “normal” in the White House who would “stop the chaos,” according to The New York Times.
Spanberger, a moderate Democrat first elected to the House in 2018 in a Republican-leaning congressional district anchored in suburban Richmond, pointed to sentiments among swing voters across the country – the kinds of voters who had voted for Republicans for years but propelled Democrats to a House majority during the presidency of Donald Trump.
Looking at electoral losses in her backyard, with a painful defeat for Democrats in the Virginia gubernatorial race between Republican Glenn Youngkin and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, alongside losses in the state House of Delegates, the congresswoman said that the party must assure voters that they’re focused on kitchen-table issues.
“We were so willing to take seriously a global pandemic, but we’re not willing to say, ‘Yeah, inflation is a problem, and supply chain is a problem, and we don’t have enough workers in our work force,'” she told The Times. “We gloss over that and only like to admit to problems in spaces we dominate.”
The congresswoman said that many Americans saw Biden as a level-headed leader who could turn the page from the tumult of the Trump years, but didn’t necessarily vote to give Democrats a mandate to pass their spending priorities.
“Nobody elected him to be F.D.R., they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos,” she told The Times, pointing to the party’s narrow 221-213 House majority and its razor-thin Senate majority.
On Friday, after months of intraparty disagreements, the House passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in a 228-206 vote, with 13 Republicans crossing over to support the legislation and six progressive Democrats voting in opposition.
The bill now heads to Biden’s desk, where he will sign it into law during an official ceremony in the coming days.
The party will then shift to passing the $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, composed of a social-spending blueprint that includes funding for universal pre-K for six years, childcare subsidies, and an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing aids, among other items.
On Saturday, Biden was asked about Spanberger’s comments, which elicited a smile from the commander-in-chief, who called her “a friend.”
The president relayed that the congresswoman told him that she has a photo of FDR in her office.
He then stressed that he was his own man, working on his own terms.
“I don’t intend to be anybody but Joe Biden,” he said. “That’s who I am. And what I’m trying to do is do the things that I ran on to do.”