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Rep. Stephanie Murphy

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) speaks about the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)

Critics Blast Murphy for Helping Drive Dems 'Into a Ditch' and Then Blaming Progressives

"Stephanie Murphy won a redrawn Obama district that's trending left, helped sabotage Biden’s agenda (which she and other moderates ran on), and is now throwing a fit and retiring to go sit on some corporate board," said one observer.

Julia Conley

Progressive political observers on Friday scoffed at comments from corporate Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, who tried to blame progressives in the party for her retirement from Congress, despite the fact that right-leaning members have gotten much of what they wanted—including blockage of President Joe Biden's agenda—over the past year.

The congresswoman, who has represented Florida's 7th Congressional District since 2017 and announced her plan to retire in December, told Politico that the Democratic Party does not give conservative members of the party "leeway" to cast right-leaning votes—despite the fact that many lawmakers have spent their careers doing just that and have successfully damaged Biden's chances of passing his domestic agenda.

Murphy was one of several Democrats who in early November delayed a vote on the Build Back Better Act—Biden's 10-year spending plan to invest in climate action and anti-poverty programs which is now stalled in the Senate due to conservative Democrats' objections—claiming they wanted to wait for a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

The congresswoman objected to tying the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to the Build Back Better Act, a strategy pushed by progressives including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who reasoned that passing the infrastructure bill by itself would put at risk the president's broader plan to provide paid family leave, free community college, and climate action—a prediction that has proven true four months later.

Murphy complained that the labor movement backed progressives' strategy.

"The infrastructure bill was one of the most historic job-creating bills for labor. And instead of [being] focused on the bill that would create jobs today for their members, they were focused on carrying out the Democratic leadership's approach to the two bills," she said of labor groups.

As Mike Casca, communications director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), noted, progressives' efforts to ensure Biden's full domestic agenda was passed have not been successful so far, allowing Murphy to get "everything she wanted"—likely to the detriment of Democrats' chances of maintaining power in November.

The bill Murphy and other right-wing Democrats refused to pass last year contained broadly popular policy proposals, even after being significantly cut down to appease the party's conservative faction.

As Frederick Vélez III Burgos of the Hispanic Federation tweeted, Murphy's claim that the party's tolerance for its corporate-aligned members "has eroded" is evidence that she and her allies plan to engage in "revisionist history" to explain the party's probable losses this November.

In addition to helping to kill the Build Back Better Act, journalist David Sirota noted, the Big Pharma-backed congresswoman helped to weaken a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices—a longtime Democratic priority—by voting against it in the House Ways and Means Committee in September. A narrower version of the proposal was later included in the Build Back Better Act.

Despite successfully obstructing her own party's agenda, Murphy claimed in the interview that Democratic leaders have "beat moderates into submission" in recent years, dismissing the president's proposals as "rainbows and unicorns."

As progressives including the Sunrise Movement and Ocasio-Cortez have warned repeatedly, not delivering on Biden's campaign promises—particularly amid a worsening planetary crisis, an ongoing pandemic, and rising costs of essential goods and services—is what is likely to doom Democrats in November.

Ironically, as Steve Morris of The Recount pointed out Friday, Murphy's ideological allies in the Senate, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), joined every Republican in January in rejecting changes to the filibuster, effectively killing voting rights legislation that would have protected Murphy's own district from gerrymandering.

Offering a critical summary of the congresswoman's position, The Intercept's Austin Ahlman put it this way: "Stephanie Murphy won a redrawn Obama district that's trending left, helped sabotage Biden’s agenda (which she and other moderates ran on), and is now throwing a fit and retiring to go sit on some corporate board."

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