Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is trying to keep his Democratic colleagues united even as Sen. Bernie Sanders attempts to push them further leftwards in a dispute that has the potential to further weaken the already decimated party, The Hill reported on Tuesday.
The key to avoiding infighting for many is to keep Sanders and other prominent liberals happy.
With that in mind, Schumer has, for example, backed Sanders' calls to hold rallies around the country protesting the repeal of Obamacare, helping him organize the rallies last month and putting out a joint appeal for more demonstrations on the issue later in February, the Washington Examiner reported.
Schumer also chose Sanders to serve on his leadership team as chairman of outreach, but that has not stopped the Vermont senator from lashing out at Democrats who voted against an amendment he co-wrote to bring down the price of prescription drugs by permitting their importation from Canada, according to The Hill.
Sanders said in an interview that they lacked "guts," because they refused to oppose the powerful Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, but one Democrat said that is not the proper tactic to take if you are part of the party leadership.
The Democrats refusing to support his amendment said they had valid reasons, namely that it did not include strong enough safety standards for imported drugs.
In an attempt to smooth the tensions, Schumer convened a meeting between the warring factions, but the result was inconclusive. Sanders, however, says he is working with colleagues on new legislation to reduce drug costs, which he plans to introduce soon.
Schumer has a difficult task this year after the November elections left the Republicans controlling the White House, as well as both chambers in Congress.
To make matter worse, Schumer has to walk a fine line this year, as Democratic senators are running for reelection in 2018 in 10 states that President Donald Trump won in last year's election.
This means that at the same time he is trying to please the party's liberal wing that seeks all-out opposition to Trump, Schumer wants to give lawmakers in those states flexibility to vote their conscience so they have a better chance of retaining their seats.
It remains to be seen how this tightrope act can be pulled off while keeping the Democrats united.
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