WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Republicans on Capitol Hill are taking a victory lap after the GOP’s Glenn Youngkin upset Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial election Tuesday.
Republicans say Youngkin’s win signals that President Joe Biden’s agenda is unpopular. Democrats generally disagree and most are doubling down on the president’s economic policies, though moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the party must be cautious about moving forward.
“Today is a wake-up call for Washington Democrats,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said.
Fellow Republicans like Sens. Roger Marshall of Kansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri argued that Youngkin’s win showed voters rejecting Democrats’ educational policies and large social spending plan.
“They don’t want their kids being taught radical left-wing social theories,” Hawley said. “The American people do not like what Joe Biden is trying to sell them.”
Biden said what people are really unhappy about is inaction.
“The people want us to get things done. … Pass my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better bill,” he urged Congress.
Both of those packages have been stalled amid disputes among Democrats about what the Build Back Better plan should pay for and how much it should cost.
Making no mention of Virginia on the Senate floor Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., renewed his support for the president’s agenda.
“It’s just what the American people want and need … and we need to focus on getting the job done,” he said.
But Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., admitted there are lessons to be learned from McAuliffe’s loss.
“In terms of education at the local level, (Youngkin) touched a nerve,” Warner said. “Those on the Democratic side need to sit back and see how we address that.”
But he also said that doesn’t mean shying away from passing the infrastructure and social spending plans.
“That means making sure that we provide more affordable child care. We need to get more people back to work,” he listed. “Bringing down the price of prescription drugs.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who heads up the Progressive Caucus, said there is now new urgency to pass the packages.
“I think we were already in high gear to get it done, but if there’s a higher gear, we certainly went into it,” he said.
House leaders say they inching closer to a vote on both packages, but it’s unclear if moderate Democrats in the Senate will get on board, especially following Youngkin’s victory. Manchin said he thinks his party should pump the brakes.
Correction: A previous version of this article listed Kevin McCarthy as a Democrat instead of a Republican. We apologize for the error.