At a policy retreat for House Democrats at a resort an hour outside of Washington, President Obama and Vice President Biden rallied their fellow Democrats with a lot of talk about partisan unity at a moment when both parties have been particularly fractured.
The president on Friday cast raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour as his biggest priority, and he boasted about the executive action he took this week to raise it in future federal contracts.
Obama said, “It reminded me of why I’m a Democrat, and it reminded me of why I’m so proud of this caucus because you’re standing up” on behalf of low-wage earners.
The president’s second priority: immigration reform. He also applauded the Democrats who led the House in increasing the government’s borrowing power with no strings attached.
“The fact that we were able to pass a clean debt limit is just one example of why when you guys are unified, you guys stick together, this country is better off and I could not be more thankful and more appreciative and prouder of what you are doing.”
But Obama failed to mention one highly contentious issue on which many Democrats are bucking him: The fast track authority for trade deals with Atlantic and Pacific partners, a particularly sore point in the Senate.
A feistier pep talk came from Biden, who chided the opposition party for what he sees as obstructionism.
“There isn’t a Republican party. I wish there were,” he told the House Democrats in remarks before the president arrived. “I wish there was a Republican party, I wish there was one person you could sit across the table from, make a deal, make a compromise and know when you got up from that table, it was done.”
Biden urged Democrats to defend their party during this fall’s congressional elections and keep their eyes on the ball.