BALTIMORE — President Joe Biden hasn’t announced whether he’s running for a second term yet, but his address to a gathering of House Democrats here Wednesday sounded a lot like a 2024 stump speech.
Biden dared House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California to reveal Republicans’ budget full of spending cuts, mocked GOP Sen. Rick Scott’s reversal on targeting Social Security and Medicare and knocked “MAGA Republicans” like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. an acolyte of former President Donald Trump who recently called for a “national divorce” between red states and blue states.
“A little bit more of Marjorie Taylor Greene and a few more and you’re going to have a lot of Republicans running our way,” Biden said of GOP voters in 2024. “Isn’t she amazing?”
House Democrats laughed and applauded.
Biden also claimed credit for drugmaker Eli Lilly’s announcing Wednesday that it would cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month.
“Here’s the deal. I called on the prescription drug companies to bring down the price of insulin to $35 to everyone — not just seniors. And today, Eli Lilly, the largest manufacturer of insulin in the United States of America, agreed to do just that: 35 bucks," Biden said.
"But guess what that means? Every other company making insulin is going to have to lower their prices to 35, because they can’t compete.”
Biden and House Democrats huddled at a hotel in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Wednesday night as the party plots a messaging strategy to help it hold the White House and win back the House majority next year. On Thursday, Biden is scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Later this week, Republicans will welcome Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland, just outside the nation's capital.
Some Democrats have expressed frustration at a lack of coordination between the White House and Democratic lawmakers as they’ve tried to communicate their legislative victories over the past two years to voters.
At the gathering here, Biden outlined how Democrats could improve their cooperation as they begin to see the fruits of the infrastructure package, a gun reform law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the climate and health care law known as the Inflation Reduction Act.
Biden said a subgroup in his Cabinet will work closely with a new group of House leaders, dubbed the Regional Leadership Council, in coordinating events around the country to promote things like infrastructure ribbon-cuttings and the awarding of federal grants — events that could help Democrats running for re-election.
“Folks, y’all know how much we’ve gotten done. A lot of the country still doesn’t know it,” he said. “That’s why the big job in front of us is implementing the laws we passed, so people start to see it in their lives."
“I promised to partner with you and coordinate with you to make sure the implementation of these laws is done efficiently and effectively and let the American people know who did it as they feel the benefits of the investment — you did it.”
During the three-day conference, Democrats will also hear from Vice President Kamala Harris and top administration officials, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo; Biden’s infrastructure czar, Mitch Landrieu; Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan; and two former House Democrats, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge.
Biden was preceded in Wednesday's program by Wes Moore, Maryland's first Black governor. Former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., described Moore, an Afghanistan war veteran and Rhodes Scholar, as “one of the most exciting leaders in our country,” and many have discussed him as a future presidential candidate.
“Now more than ever, the United States Congress actually reflects the beautiful diversity of the country. Now more than ever, this government looks like the people it serves,” Moore said.
“A government that looks like the people helps to deliver for the people that it represents.”
Opening the “People Over Politics” issues conference, several party leaders said the goal the next two years is to win back control of the House — and put Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York in the speaker’s office.
“Democrats in the House are unified, focused, fired up and ready to go in terms of continuing to put people over politics. Over the last Congress, we were able to deliver significant victories for the American people,” Jeffries told reporters Wednesday, rattling off bills signed into law over the past two years.
“It’s an agenda that we will stand behind, continue to bring to life, as we move it forward this year and throughout the balance of this Congress,” Jeffries said.
Democrats lost their majority in the House in the 2022 midterms, but their better-than-expected showing put them in a prime position to retake the chamber next year.
Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, the head of the House Democrats’ campaign arm this election cycle, noted that with Jennifer McClellan’s victory last week in Virginia, Democrats need to pick up just five net seats to take back the House next year.
Republicans, she said, control 18 House seats in districts Biden won in 2020, giving Democrats “an incredible opportunity.”
“The American people are with us. We have incredible momentum,” she said. “We came off of the last election incredibly strong with momentum. And we are working hard to continue to make sure our message is heard by the American people and that we hold Republicans accountable for their extreme agenda.”