Democrats' infighting worsens at Biden’s 1-year mark: The Note

The president marks his first year in office on Wednesday.

January 19, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

You can zoom in or out and see a similar picture – and President Joe Biden's challenge will be how to talk about it when that could be part of the problem as well.

Biden holds a news conference marking his first year in office on Wednesday, at a moment that features familiar dynamics. There are COVID-19 and inflation frustrations, foreign policy provocations and Democrats divided among themselves even as they press forward in a Senate debate they know they won't win.

The president is being measured -- harshly, according to recent polls -- against his own promises. Perhaps more than that, he's being held to account against the promise he once held.

Biden always knew he was inheriting an angry nation with deep political divisions, including razor-thin majorities in both the House and Senate.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14, 2022.
Ken Cedeno, Pool via CNP via Polaris

Now, with those majorities in midterm-year danger, infighting has worsened inside his own party. Emily's List is now threatening to support a primary challenger to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is saying he might support primaries against both Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Biden's inaugural address, delivered just a day shy of one year ago, included the word "unity" eight times, including with this line: "I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy."

As expected, that sentiment has been widely derided by Republicans. But at this moment, in particular, many Biden voters might agree more than they disagree.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Two Democratic House members added their names to the growing list of congressional lawmakers opting not to run for reelection during a high-stakes midterm year.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., announced, within minutes of each other Tuesday, that they wouldn't seek reelection.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 1, 2021, file photo, Congressman Jim Langevin is shown at the New England Institute of Technology in Warwick, R.I.
In this Nov. 1, 2021, file photo, Congressman Jim Langevin is shown at the New England Institute of Technology in Warwick, R.I.
Boston Globe via Getty Images, FILE

"I have not come to this decision lightly, but it is time for me to chart a new course, which will allow me to stay closer to home and spend more time with my family and friends," wrote Langevin in an op-ed announcing his retirement.

"I will keep working for the people of my district throughout the remainder of my term and look forward to new opportunities to continue to serve," said McNerney in a Twitter thread.

There are now 28 Democratic House members who have announced they won't run again, which is short of the 34 GOP House members who didn't seek reelection during the 2018 midterms. Republicans lost 35 seats during that midterm election cycle with former President Donald Trump in office. During former President Barack Obama's first term in 2010, 17 Democrats didn't seek reelection. That year, Democrats lost 63 seats.

While both Langevin and McNerney's districts have a good chance of staying in Democratic hands, it does call attention to narrow margins in the House and a generally negative outlook for Democrats ahead of midterms.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Supply chain issues seem to be emerging everywhere -- including election administration in Texas, the nation's first state to hold primary elections this year. As some groups work to help register Texans to vote, they're encountering shortages of paper registration forms issued by the secretary of state's office.

"In some cases, we have not been able to send as many free voter registration applications to organizations and interest groups as they have requested. This is due to particularly acute supply chain issues that have delayed shipments of paper applications," Sam Taylor, assistant secretary of state for communications, told ABC News.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, voters cast their ballot at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, voters cast their ballot at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images, FILE

Taylor added that "the price of each paper application we have to order has increased significantly since the last time our office had to order paper voter registration applications on such a large scale." The secretary of state's office says all requests from organizations are being treated the same way, and groups have been told that orders must be limited to 1,000-2,000 forms at a time before requesting more.

The shortage is happening as groups seek out new voter registration forms that reflect updated phrasing regarding illegal voting penalty changes under the state's new voting law. According to Taylor, "county voter registrars may accept completed voter registration applications on the old form, so long as the application is otherwise valid" and "using last year's form in and of itself is not fatal to the voter's registration application."

ONE MORE THING

ABC News' Benjamin Siegel reported that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Tuesday subpoenaed Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, who were among those who pushed claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and for GOP officials to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden's victory. ABC News also confirmed that the committee has acquired phone records from former President Donald Trump's son Eric and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancee of Donald Trump Jr.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Wednesday morning with positive signs the omicron surge may be past its peak in parts of the U.S., according to ABC's Anne Flaherty. Then, ABC's Matt Gutman checks in from Fiji as communications remain cut off from Tonga after a massive eruption and tsunami. And, host Brad Mielke commemorates the show's 1,000th episode with a special celebration. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden holds a press conference at 4 p.m.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris swears in Mark Brzezinski to be the ambassador to Poland at 2 p.m.
  • U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen delivers remarks at the 90th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at 8 a.m.
  • The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel holds a hearing to discuss sexual assault and sexual harassment in the National Guard at 2 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Thursday for the latest.

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