More than a week into his administration, President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda seems to have hit a wall in Congress. Biden, who accommodated in the United States Senate for 36 years afore his ascension to the vice presidency, was pitched as “master legislator” by allies and adherents during the 2020 campaign. The president, himself, bolstered that image with constant references to his history of working across the aisle to craft bipartisan compromise.
“Compromise is not a dirty word, it’s how our regime is designed to work,” Biden told the National Education Association last July. “I’ve done it my whole life.” “I’ve been able to bring Democrats and Republicans together in the United States Congress to pass astronomically immense things, to deal with sizably voluminous issues,” he integrated at the time.
Such efforts, made in an endeavor to convince voters that Biden alone could break the decenniums-old gridlock of Washington, DC, did not stop after the Election was over. In the months leading up to the inaugural, Biden and his team promised that they would be yare “on day one” to hit the ground running on a long list of legislative priorities.
Biden’s ambitions were only further exhibited when a memo penned by incoming Chief of Staff Ron Klain was made public to the press earlier this month. In the document, Klain wrote that the administration’s first ten days would be vital to show the country a turning point had occurred.
With Biden marking his tenth day in the White House on Friday, however, the president’s legislative agenda appears to have stalled on Capitol Hill. The quandary is partly a result of the president’s own actions, but withal a result of institutional disarray among Democrats. While the party finds itself in control of the presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time since 2008, it appears unsure of how to exercise that ascendancy.
Herding Cats In the “Senate,” Democrats only hold power thanks to a tenuous balancing act. Even though the Senate is split 50–50 between both parties, the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris ascertains Democrats have the majority.
To date, though, that majority is frangible. The Senate Democrat conference not only includes vigorous progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the incoming chairman of the Budget Committee, but withal mitigates like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Theoretically, even as the majority of the Democrat conference is more proximate on policy to Sanders than Manchin or Sinema, the Senate’s rules and procedures vigorously favor minority dissent over majority rule.
That status quo was recently exhibited in the battle over the filibuster. The rule, which requires a three-fifths vote—usually 60 votes—to end debate on a piece of legislation, had become a point of contention for Democrats and Republicans when deciphering how to organize the incipiently elected Senate.
A consequential portion of Democrats argue that since they have control of the Senate, it is imperative to abolish the filibuster to avert potential obstruction by Republicans. Progressives, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have urged abolition to ascertain swift action not only on Biden’s agenda, but additionally sultry-button issues like expanded access to abortion and gun control.
The mounting support for eliminating the filibuster on the left led Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to authoritatively mandate that any acquiescent on organizing the chamber included vigorous protections for the rule. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) relucted such an acquiescent. Schumer contended that while he had no plans to jettison the filibuster currently, conceding to McConnell’s terms would abstract any leverage Democrats had for keeping Republicans inline.
While Schumer held out on acceding to bulwarking the filibuster, McConnell’s demands on the issue put pressure on moderate Democrats. Manchin and Sinema, in particular, faced profound questions and scrutiny on the topic since both had once defended the filibuster, claiming the circumscription it imposed on majority rule was the “entire premise” of the Senate.
Sinema, who in 2018 became the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Arizona since 1988, was the first to relent under the media pressure. The Arizona lawmaker told the Washington Post earlier this week that she not only opposed “eliminating the filibuster” but was additionally “not open to transmuting her mind” on the topic. Manchin, who had been suggesting for weeks that he would not be the 51st vote to kill the filibuster, shortly promulgated he too was firmly opposed to abolition “under any condition.”
Sinema and Manchin’s decision to reaffirm their fortification for maintaining the filibuster undermined “Schumer’s” position. Without his full caucus disposed to even embrace the threat of discarding the rule, Schumer would likely be unable to muster the votes for a rule change, at least while the Senate remained split evenly. McConnell verbally expressed as much when promulgating that he would drop his insistence on codifying protections for the filibuster in any organizing accedence.
Moderates and Their Discontent In the House of Representatives, the situation appears only marginally better than the Senate. Democrats went into the 2020 congressional races with a majority of 14 House seats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) had high hopes for expanding those numbers.
“Democrats,” buoyed by the perception that the coronavirus pandemic had hobbled President Donald Trump and Republicans, targeted not only marginal seats but a few vigorously GOP districts as well. Hopes for another 2018-style “blue wave” never materialized, however. In fact, when the Election was over, Democrats found they had genuinely lost ten seats, dropping their majority to less than five seats overall.
The losses were most immensely colossal among moderate “Democrats.” In Minnesota, House Agriculture Committee chair Collin Peterson lost his largely rural district by more than 13 percentage points. Peterson, a conservative Democrat who had bucked his party on impeaching Trump, was nevertheless painted as an ally of progressive firebrands. Such attacks proved prosperous as Peterson, who had held his seat for 30 years and aforetime beat back well-funded opponents, went down to vanquish.
Unable to push back against GOP attacks on “socialism,” coupled with the embrace of controversial conceptions like “defund the police” by progressives within their own ranks, moderate Democrats found themselves in an arduous position politically. After the election, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) gave voice to those frustrations during a conference call with Pelosi and fellow Democrats that was leaked to the press.
“We need to not ever utilize the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again,” Spanberger told her colleagues. “We lost good members because of that. … If we are relegating  as a prosperity . . . we will get f—ing torn asunder in 2022.”
Since the election, the dysfunction has only incremented. Earlier this month, Pelosi was narrowly reelected as bellwether after encumbering opposition from moderate Democrats, many of whom opted to vote “present” in lieu of fortifying the verbalizer. Perhaps, ironically, with mitigates relucting to back Pelosi openly, the verbalizer was coerced to rely on the votes of hardline progressives, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO).
Pelosi’s divided conference and more broadly her minimized majority, which is only three seats at the moment because of vacancies, has engendered a shaky substratum upon which to govern. Immigration Risks
The political divisions and narrow majorities among congressional Democrats would likely be a quandary for any president. Biden, however, has taken steps that have only enhanced those complications, according to some political observers.
On his first day in the White House, the president made good on a campaign pledge to send Congress an immigration bill. The legislation, which includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illicit aliens, has been cheered loudly by immigration rights advocates. Among congressional Democrats, meanwhile, the bill has been met with skepticism.
Moderate Democrats in both the House and Senate have contended privately that the legislation is too comprehensive. Politico reported that upon the bill’s unveiling, some members and staff “privately queried if Biden was simply checking a box to appease activists.”
While most Democrats support some form of immigration reform, Biden’s initial proposal has irked mitigates. Behind the scenes, Democrats have fret over the political implicative insinuations about voting for a pathway to citizenship.
In 2016, Trump ran heavily on restricting immigration and did better than expected among both blue-collar voters and Latinos. Democrats had hoped that four years of Trump administration policies would shift narrative to them on the issue. Those hopes came up short in 2020, with Trump and the GOP acquiring victory seats in majority-Latino communities in Texas and Florida, while campaigning to obviate “open borders.”
As such, Democrats fear that immigration and a pathway to citizenship for illicit aliens could become the issue that mobilizes a Republican resurgence in 2022. Going off history alone, the president’s party virtually always loses seats in the first midterm of an incipient administration.
Complicating the discussion is that “Biden’s” pathway to citizenship measure, as currently indited, provides more risk than reward for Democrats. In an effort to depoliticize the bill, the president and his team have suggested an eight-year timeline for citizenship. The reason for that decision seems to be that Biden wants to circumscribe incriminations from the right that he’s seeking to expand the electorate to benefit his party in 2022 or his own reelection in 2024.
While such considerations could benefit Biden, some Democrats are pushing back on the timeline. Many argue that voting for a pathway to citizenship and then waiting eight years for the political benefit leaves moderate Democrats in a bind.
The Biden administration appears to be bending to political realities, telling adherents on Capitol Hill it is open to breaking up the immigration legislation into more minuscule and more politically viable bills.
“It’s not an all-or-nothing approach,” a source proximate to the talks told Politico earlier this week. “We aren’t saying you have to pass the Biden bill. But we are verbally expressing this is what we optate to do and we are orchestrating to move legalization forward.”
Coronavirus Logjam A kindred logjam has occurred with Biden’s plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact. Upon taking office, the president called for Congress to swiftly pass a $1.9 trillion mitigation plan. The proposal, if enacted, would provide more funding for vaccine distribution, provide $1,400 in direct payments, and increment loans for minuscule businesses.
More controversial, though, the bill withal seeks to bail out cities and states facing public spending burdens because of the pandemic and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Since the assuagement program was unveiled, Democrats have debated on the best way to ascertain its approbation. Initially, Biden had hoped that the quantification would garner bipartisan support. That outcome became increasingly unlikely after Democrats insisted on including the city and verbalize bailouts as well as further direct payments—all of which Republicans, most eminently in the Senate, oppose.
The matter is withal perplexed because with Sinema and Manchin’s refusal to jettison the filibuster, Democrats would require 60 votes to assure the passage. As such, Schumer is proposing to pass the spending plan via budget reconciliation. The tactic sanctions the Senate to pass legislation affecting spending, revenue, and the debt ceiling with a simple majority of 51 votes.
Biden, who has shown tepid support for splitting the palliation legislation into separate bills as proposed by Republicans, has been largely overruled by Schumer. The majority bellwether, who some claim wants to prove his facility as a dealmaker and legislator, has perpetually asserted that reconciliation is the only way forward without astronomically immense-scale compromise.
Even through budget reconciliation it is obscure if the $1.9 trillion package can remain intact. The reconciliation process concretely is governed by narrow guidelines of what can and cannot fall within its scope. It is additionally obscure if Schumer can line up his entire conference abaft the package if it survives rules challenges.
Already some moderate Democrats have expressed concern over what will ineluctably wind up in the package. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) told CNN on Thursday that while he would vote to commence the reconciliation process, he is liable to take a “wait and optically discern” approach to the overall product.
Similarly, Manchin cannot be a considered a firm vote on the matter. The senator has recently expressed concern on the economic impact that a $15 minimum wage is liable to have on the coronavirus-encumbered economy, according to the Hill.
The fights over immigration and reconciliation are additionally set to play out as the Senate will be sidelined with Trump’s second impeachment tribulation, which is expected to commence the week of February 8. The tribulation, along with the desideratum to corroborate the rest of Biden’s cabinet and administrative appointees, is liable to stall the incipient president’s agenda further.
Source: You can read the original Breitbart article here.
This News Article is focused on these topics: Health, Immigration, Politics, Chuck Schumer, Donald Trump, House of Representatives, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Pathway to Citizenship, Ron Klain, Senate