US House Democratic leaders to meet again over Joe Biden’s future

US House Democratic leaders to meet again over Joe Biden’s future

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The top US House Democrat will meet his leadership team to “figure out the next step” amid growing calls on Capitol Hill for Joe Biden to end his re-election campaign against Donald Trump.

Hakeem Jeffries, the party’s leader in the House, told reporters on Thursday that he intended to speak with each of the more than 200 House Democrats before talking with his top team to plot a path forward, as a crisis over Biden’s candidacy engulfs the party.

Jeffries has confronted growing calls from within his caucus for the 81-year-old Biden to step aside as concerns mount that the president is ill-equipped to beat Trump in November and serve another four years in the White House.

On Thursday, Michigan lawmaker Hillary Scholten became the latest Democrat in Congress to call on Biden to end his re-election campaign.

“For the good of our democracy, I believe it is time for him to step aside from the presidential race and allow a new leader to stand up,” Scholten said.

New York congressman Ritchie Torres stopped short of explicitly telling Biden to step down on Thursday, but wrote on X: “The narrative that the president simply had one bad debate performance reflects a continuing pattern of denial and self-delusion.”

More than a dozen lawmakers have so far explicitly called on Biden to step aside, while many others have signalled their concerns about his candidacy.

On Wednesday, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Biden needed to make a decision on his future “quickly”, while actor George Clooney, a big Hollywood Democratic backer and donor, called on the president to drop out of the race too.

Many lawmakers are also concerned that Biden could weigh on congressional races and kill the Democratic party’s chance of taking back control of the House.

Democratic donors told the Financial Times on Wednesday that funding for the party’s election campaign is now “drying up” because Biden remains on the ticket.

Lawmakers’ growing concerns come nearly two weeks after Biden’s disastrous debate performance against Trump sparked panic across the Democratic party, as influential donors and party operatives fretted that the president was not fit for a re-election campaign and another four-year term.

The White House and the Biden campaign have insisted that the president is committed to his re-election bid, defeating Trump and serving another term in the Oval Office.

The behind-the-scenes negotiations on Capitol Hill come hours before Biden is set to speak to the world’s media at a press conference to conclude this week’s Nato summit in Washington.