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(WASHINGTON) — After a consequential day of meetings, congressional Democrats appear to be absorbing the sober reality of President Joe Biden’s nomination amid debate about his viability and the party’s path forward.

House Democrats huddled privately at the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday morning to vent for more than two-hours as caucus leaders worked to reassure rank-and-file members in the wake of Biden’s poor debate performance. In a sign of the sensitivity of the conversation, lawmakers’ cellphones were collected at the door, presumably to prevent real-time leaks about the private discussion.

Some later described the meeting as “rough” and sobering, according to multiple participants.

One Democrat in the room said that the meeting felt like a “funeral” for those lawmakers worried about Biden, and that there was “frustration” and “sadness” as the party continues “moving through the stages of grief.”

Many Democrats privately believe Biden should step aside, and that the party could be facing electoral disaster if he stays in the race and is unable to change perceptions about his health. But they feel powerless to impact the situation given Biden’s stubborn resistance to dropping out.

“There’s a sense that we don’t have any power here,” one member told ABC News. “It may be too late already.”

Rep. Mark Takano, a senior lawmaker who has privately voiced concerns about Biden’s bid, told colleagues he’s seen private polling with Biden losing his deep-blue district after the debate.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries did not share his views on Biden’s candidacy in the closed-door gathering, participants told ABC News, despite saying on Monday that he supported Biden and that his position remained unchanged.

Jeffries later told reporters the conversation about Biden with rank-and-file Democrats will continue throughout the balance of the week.

“We had a caucus meeting today that gave members an opportunity to express themselves in a candid and comprehensive fashion and those discussions will continue throughout the balance of the week,” Jeffries said on Tuesday afternoon as he entered the House chamber.

Although seven members have publicly called for Biden to step aside, the vast majority of House Democrats who spoke to reporters upon leaving the DNC reaffirmed their support for Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, who privately said on a call Sunday he wanted Biden to step aside, appeared to have changed his mind as he told reporters Biden “made it very clear he is running. I am fully supportive of him. I plan to campaign for him.”

“We’re riding with Biden,” Rep. Jim Clyburn, whose support was critical for Biden to win the 2020 election, said several times as he departed the meeting.

Several other lawmakers who have not yet taken a public stance, however, refused to reveal details about the family conversation or explicitly defend the president.

Many also sought to shift the conversation to Donald Trump, as they denounced Project 2025 — a sweeping plan to overhaul the federal government proposed by a conservative group closely aligned with the former president.

Some members vented that White House and President Biden have focused the spotlight on Biden’s health, at the expense of news around Trump and the Supreme Court.

A member who is still publicly supporting Biden said people in the caucus are worried that “the age issue will continue to be a huge distraction.”

Another fear among lawmakers has also emerged: that Biden’s health takes a turn for the worse between now and November — or in the event that he wins, between November and Jan. 20 when he would be sworn in for a second term.

In a separate meeting of vulnerable lawmakers, several Democrats became emotional as they grappled with the internal party dynamics and paralysis at play.

Democrats could find themselves in a “Weekend at Bernie’s” situation of their own making, one lawmaker joked darkly to ABC News.

That same Democrat also suggested that Democratic lawmakers’ relationship with Biden now mirrored their Republican counterparts with Trump: Both groups have misgivings about their leaders but now view them as “tools” for their agendas.

Senate Democrats also huddled on Tuesday for a conference meeting — their first gathering since the Biden-Trump debate in late June.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, during his weekly press conference, declined to engage with reporters who questioned him about Biden’s ability to lead the party.

ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott asked Schumer, “Are you confident that President Biden has what it takes to win in November and serve the next four years?”

“As I said before, I’m with Joe,” Schumer said.

ABC News’ Will Steakin, Mary Bruce, John Parkinson, Arthur Jones and Mariam Khan contributed to this report.

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