As he prepares for the likelihood of succeeding Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, New York Sen. Charles Schumer is working to prove his liberal credentials in an attempt to appeal to the left of the party.
According to The Hill
, Schumer has taken up a number of new positions in the last week, endorsing the expansion of Social Security and criticizing the 12-nation trade deal being negotiated by the Obama administration.
"I think it's notable how he's changed his tune in the last week," Neil Sroka, communications director for Democracy for America, a liberal advocacy group, told The Hill. "It clearly shows he's listening to the things that the progressive base is concerned about and perhaps changing his views on them as a result."
"It remains to be seen if he ends up being the leader of the Senate how responsive he'll be to the desires of the progressive base," he added.
Schumer has been criticized for his relationship with Wall Street in the past, and for his moderate views on taxes and foreign policy, for example.
"He has been exceedingly close during his career to Wall Street," Sroka said.
Schumer appears almost certain to take the reins after Reid endorsed him and House Minority Whip Dick Durbin also threw his weight behind him. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also signaled her support and dismissed suggestions that Schumer was too close to Wall Street, according to The Hill.
"Chuck was one of the first people to support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," Warren said Monday on WBUR's "Here & Now," according to The Hill. "He's been out there on the front lines."
But Schumer's colleagues are also watching to see what position he will take on the president's nuclear negotiations with Iran. He has been at odds with the White House and has already said that Congress should have official input on any deal, Politico
"It's obvious that he has a very real, pro-Israel constituency," Sen. John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman and a friend of Schumer, told Politico. "Yet at the same time, he has loyalty to the president. So he has to balance those."
Schumer has tried to keep the issue of Iran from dividing Senate Democrats, largely avoiding talking about the issue in meetings. But he has also had sharp words for some members of the Obama administration in the way they have handled divisions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Schumer has played a pretty pivotal role in making sure we keep our unity in the Senate," Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told Politico.
"He's been very clear as to what his position is," Cardin said. "On the other hand, he's been able to help us get through the stage of negotiations we're in, to deal with the administration and to be sensitive to the negotiations."
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