This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) discussed the creation of a new group of “moderate” Democratic senators whose goal is to “restrain the influence of party liberals.” MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explained the implications of Bayh’s new group, saying “this is the group that will control the outcome politically on what can pass on the Senate floor.”
Bayh explained that his office would be issuing a press release detailing the group and its 15 inaugural members. This press release is now available and explains that the group is “will meet every other Tuesday before the Democratic Caucus lunch to discuss legislative strategies and ideas”:
[T]he Moderate Dems are joined by a shared commitment to pursue pragmatic, fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as deficit containment, health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, energy policy and climate change.
In addition to Bayh, Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will lead the group. Other members include: Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
But Bayh also told MSNBC this morning that there are “three or four” members in what he called the “Witness Protection Program.” These members, Bayh explained, are currently attending the group’s meetings but do not wish to be “publicly identified.” Based on press reports, however, ThinkProgress has compiled a list of who might be the three anonymous “moderates.” The following members have been reported as attending Bayh’s meetings in recent weeks, but are not named in today’s press release:
— Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA)
— Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
— Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Additionally, Bayh told MSNBC this morning that yesterday’s meeting featured a presentation by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) on the upcoming budget debate.
Steve Benen observes, “The president — you know, the one who just easily won a national election and enjoys strong approval ratings — will face governing challenges in a Senate in which his own party has 58 (eventually, 59) members. Part of the problem is Republican obstructionism, and part of it is Bayh and the Blue Dogs who feel more comfortable driving with their foot on the brake.”
David Waldman notes that this is not the first time Bayh has tried to organize such a group. Waldman quips, “Yawn. Sun rises in East, Evan Bayh forms ‘moderate coalition.’ Too bad he’s not as moderate in the amount of time he dedicates to making sure people hear how ‘moderate’ he is.”