First Democratic senator calls for Biden to drop his re-election bid

WASHINGTON — A new wave of congressional Democrats called for President Joe Biden to step aside in the presidential race Wednesday, including the first Democratic senator to say he should drop out.

Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., wrote in The Washington Post that Biden should withdraw “for the good of the country.”

“We have asked President Biden to do so much for so many for so long,” Welch said in the opinion piece. “It has required unmatched selflessness and courage. We need him to put us first, as he has done before. I urge him to do it now.”

Several Democrats in the House have called for Biden to bow out of the race; Welch is the first in the Senate to do so.

Welch, 77, is a fixture in Vermont politics, having served in the House since 2007 before he was elected to the Senate in 2022.

Earlier Wednesday, Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Pat Ryan of New York called for Biden to drop his re-election bid.

The three lawmakers’ statements mean 10 congressional Democrats have now publicly called for Biden to step aside.

NBC News has reported that two additional House Democrats told their colleagues that Biden should step aside, though they have not issued public statements.

Reached for comment Wednesday, a campaign official pointed to Biden’s letter Monday to members of Congress, in which he reiterated that he is “firmly committed to staying in this race.”

The official also pointed to public support for Biden from members of Congress, including members from swing states, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Ryan, a moderate Democrat, said on X that “it is our duty to put forward the strongest candidate against” Trump.

“Joe Biden is a patriot but is no longer the best candidate to defeat Trump. For the good of our country, I am asking Joe Biden to step aside — to deliver on his promise to be a bridge to a new generation of leaders,” Ryan said in the post.

He first shared his stance in a phone interview with The New York Times.

Blumenauer said in his statement that Biden “will be recorded in history as the most successful president in the last 50 years.” He framed the election as “not just about extending his presidency but protecting democracy.

“While this is a decision for the president and the first lady, I hope they will come to the conclusion that I and others have: President Biden should not be the Democratic presidential nominee,” he said in the statement.

“It is a painful and difficult conclusion but there is no question in my mind that we will all be better served if the president steps aside as the Democratic nominee and manages a transition under his terms,” he continued.

Blumenauer, 75, represents a solidly Democratic district and was re-elected in 2022 with 69.9% of the vote. He joined the House in 1996 and represents part of Portland and the surrounding area.

Ryan, 42, who joined Congress in September 2022, represents New York’s 18th Congressional District, which includes Orange, Dutchess and Ulster counties and covers the city of Poughkeepsie.

He has been a strong supporter of Biden’s and has campaigned with him several times. Ryan won his seat in a special election in August 2022 in part by campaigning heavily on the fallout from Roe v. Wade’s being struck down. Cook Political Report rates his re-election race as slightly competitive in November, with it leaning Democratic.

Ryan’s Republican opponent, Alison Esposito, criticized him Tuesday for not being honest with constituents about Biden’s cognitive abilities.

“It is long past time for Pat Ryan to find a backbone and be honest with Hudson Valley voters about what is truly happening,” she wrote on Facebook. “Biden is unfit to serve as President, and instead of recognizing the truth, Ryan continues to be a rubber stamp for Biden’s failed policies and acts as if nothing is wrong.”

While Welch was the first senator to explicitly call for Biden to exit the race, others have come close.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said Tuesday that he does not believe Biden can win in November, though he did not say Biden should withdraw.

Though many of Biden’s most prominent allies in Congress have defended him, others have expressed concerns about his ability to win in November.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday stopped short of giving a full-throated endorsement Biden’s staying in the race, saying “time is running short” for him to decide his political future.

Biden and his aides have sought this week to quell concerns from congressional Democrats after his disappointing performance in last month’s debate against Trump. Biden began the week by telling Democratic lawmakers in a letter that he wouldn’t be running “if I did not absolutely believe I was the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024.”

“We had a Democratic nomination process and the voters have spoken clearly and decisively,” he wrote.

House Democrats huddled behind closed doors Tuesday morning, and many left the caucus meeting silent after reportedly having been told by leadership not to speak to the media. While House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., has reiterated that he supports Biden as the nominee, he left the meeting saying it was a “very constructive conversation amongst the House Democratic Caucus family.”

Asked whether Democrats had reached a consensus on Biden, Jeffries said, “The conversations are ongoing.”

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