Democrats see post-election pressure to produce
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says his victorious party would have to quickly resolve concerns of the American people — ranging from bringing down record gas prices and expanding health care to resolving the housing crisis and withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
“If we get in 2009 and we don’t solve people’s problems, they will kick us out as quickly as they put us in,” Schumer, head of the Senate Democratic campaign committee, told reporters on Wednesday.
“So the big challenge, bigger than the election, is actually getting things done,” Schumer said.
Schumer quickly added, however, with Barack Obama in the White House and “an increase in Democratic seats in the House and Senate, I’m optimistic we can do it.”
“People are demanding change, and I think you will see one of the most productive sessions (of Congress ever) if we pick up a good number of seats in the House and Senate,” Schumer said.
When Democrats won control of the White House in 1992, they already had control of the House of Representatives and Senate but soon lost both chambers in the 1994 mid-term election.
Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who heads the House Democratic campaign committee, cited public opinion polls and advantages in fundraising in predicting Democrats would increase their majorities in the House and Senate.
They declined to predict by how much, however. Democrats, who won control of Congress from Republicans in the 2006 elections, now hold the House, 236-199, and the Senate, 51-49.
Republicans have 23 seats in the Senate to defend versus 12 for Democrats. In the House, more than two dozen Republicans have decided to retire or seek other office and Democrats have already picked up three seats in special elections this year in Republican districts.
“We expect to pickup a significant number of seats,” said Schumer. Van Hollen added, “Things are very positive.”
Both said they expect Obama, who polls show with a slight lead over White House rival Republican John McCain, to help congressional Democrats on Election Day.
– Photo credit: Larry Downing (Schumer grabs a break to exercise)