Politics Eager to act, Biden and Democrats leave Republicans behind
Fact check: Breaking down Joe Biden's first month of claims
President Joe Biden was more consistently factual in his first month in office than his predecessor ever was in office. But Biden was not perfect.President Joe Biden was more consistently factual in his first month in office than his predecessor ever was in office. But Biden was not perfect himself.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress are jamming their agenda forward with a sense of urgency, an unapologetically partisan approach based on the calculation that it’s better to advance the giant COVID-19 rescue package and other priorities than waste time courting Republicans who may never compromise.
The pandemic is driving the crush of legislative action, but so are the still-raw emotions from the U.S. Capitol siege as well as the hard lessons of the last time Democrats had the sweep of party control of Washington. Republicans are mounting blockades of Biden’s agenda just as they did during the devastating 2009 financial crisis with Barack Obama.
Joe Biden Backed on Foreign Policy, But China Seen As Weak Point: Poll
The Pew survey found deep partisan divisions, with Republicans lacking confidence in the president on every major foreign policy issue.Sixty percent of Americans surveyed for research published on Wednesday say they have confidence in the president's foreign policy, but are less convinced that he can perform well on issues relating to China and international trade.
Democrats, in turn, are showing little patience for the GOP objections and entertaining few overtures toward compromise, claiming the majority of the country supports their agenda. With fragile majorities in the House and Senate, and a liberal base of voters demanding action, Democrats are operating as if they are on borrowed time.
For many lawmakers, it's personal.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., led the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to House passage Wednesday on the 30th anniversary of the Rodney King beating by police in Los Angeles that she thought at the time would spur policing reforms. Instead, more Black Americans and others have died in police violence, even after Floyd's death at the hands of law enforcement last summer.
The GOP debate over family-friendly laws
How conservatives are grappling with diverging economic and cultural trends.“Everything about our ideology sort of stems from the nucleus of the family, that we are leaving women in this country without the capacity and ability unless you have an employer that allows you to, to take care of your child, to heal physically, which is something that needs to happen,” McCain said, calling the lack of nationwide, mandatory, paid maternity leave “a dark spot” that leaders need to resolve if “we are going to give women and families the capacity to grow in the way we want.
“It’s examples like that that lead to the urgency,” Bass said Wednesday.
The start of the first congressional session of the Biden administration was supposed to be a new era of bipartisan deal-making. The Senate evenly split, 50-50, and the House resting on a slim majority for Democrats set prime conditions for Biden to swoop in and forge across-the-aisle compromises.
But the rush through Biden's first 100 days is shaping up as an urgent era of hardball politics, with Democrats prepared to go it alone, even if that means that changes to the Senate filibuster rules are needed to work around Republican roadblocks to legislation that many Americans support.
“We said we’re going to do X, Y and Z, but we didn’t say we were going to be magicians,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “We can’t magically make the Republicans be for what the people are for.”
Days before Biden entered office, White House chief of staff Ron Klain highlighted the urgency with which the incoming administration would seek to act. “We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis,” he wrote in a memo. “All of these crises demand urgent action.”
Biden's relief bill isn't getting bipartisan support like previous stimulus bills. What do Republicans dislike so much?
All Senate Republicans voted against even starting debate on the $1.9 trillion measure on Thursday.The legislation, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, which the Senate started debating Thursday, is getting a partisan reception in Congress. Democrats want it passed soon, but little to no Republican members of Congress have so far voiced support.
From his first hours in office, Biden sought to take deliberate steps to deliver relief, but also to raise awareness about those and other priorities on the theory that moving urgently would increase public support and raise pressure on Republican lawmakers who might stand in the way.
And within the White House there's another kind of urgency: Biden has staffed his administration with veterans of government service who are not looking to stick around that long. Some aides are open about their commitments to help Biden for just a year before returning to private-sector jobs.
Video: Biden’s Covid relief bill is extremely popular. So why do D.C. Republicans oppose it? (MSNBC)
Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is coursing ahead on party-line votes under budget rules that will allow Senate passage by a simple 51-vote threshold, denying Republicans the ability to block the bill with a filibuster that would take 60 votes to overcome.
House leaders have reworked this month’s schedule for legislation to include voting rights, gun background checks and immigration in the queue — many of them do-overs of bills blocked last session by President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans. They still face a long haul to becoming law without GOP support in the Senate.
Senate Nears Saturday Passage After All-Nighter: Stimulus Update
The Senate is on track to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill as early as midday Saturday after a compromise reduced added unemployment benefits to $300 a week, one of several ways moderate Democrats shaped the bill to be less generous than the House version. Democrats also fought off a raft of Republican amendments to cut state and local funding, redirect Amtrak funding, end aid to indebted minority farmers, and stop grants for non-profit entities. The amendment process began after 11 a.m. on Friday.But the chamber voted to include the deal Democrats reached within their own ranks to extend until Sept.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer often hark back to the lessons of 2009, when Obama took office during the financial crisis and Democrats cut back the recovery package to win a few Republican votes only to face an onslaught of attacks against the bill.
Many of the same Democrats in leadership today are unwilling to risk a repeat, especially as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other economists now say that paring back the 2009 rescue package stunted the recovery.
“One of the biggest lessons that Republicans learned in the '09 and '10 era is they could basically obstruct everything and not suffer at the ballot box,” said Tre Easton, a senior adviser at the liberal Battle Born Collective.
The strategy is on display again. House Republicans used procedural objections to stall the COVID-19 package until well past midnight late last week after a marathon rules session spilled voting into early Saturday. Senate Republicans are now threatening similar delays.
“We’ll be fighting this in every way that we can,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said about the COVID-19 package.
McConnell wants Senate Republicans to vote in lockstep against the virus aid, calling it a bloated liberal wish list, following the lead of House Republicans who gave it zero support.
Takeaways from the COVID-19 stimulus bill passing Congress: Weeks of partisan fighting comes to an end with a win for Biden
The two sides fought for months over the latest COVID stimulus bill. It ended Wednesday with a Democratic win. The bill now heads to Joe Biden's desk.The legislation, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, includes $1,400 stimulus checks, billions of dollars for vaccines, and money to reopen schools.
That leaves Democrats negotiating with themselves on the COVID-19 package, with Biden warning they won’t like every aspect as he courts centrists. Progressives are being forced to abandon, for now, a provision to lift the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Wednesday, Democrats decided to more narrowly target $1,400 direct payments to households.
Yet Democrats are holding together, so far, because there’s also the urgency that was not readily apparent until Biden was sworn into office.
Perhaps nothing has stiffened the Democratic resolve like the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, which carved new fault lines between those who confirmed the presidential election results and those willing to side with the mob seeking to overturn Trump’s defeat to Biden.
Democratic lawmakers who arrive at the fenced-in Capitol under the watchful protection of armed National Guard troops appear to have “zero” patience, as one aide put it, for engaging with Republicans — some of whom still question the election results. A new threat of violence sent lawmakers to wrap up work for the week late Wednesday.
Republicans are protesting the partisan start, even though they relied on a similar budget mechanism to try to pass Trump-era priorities. They set out to repeal “Obamacare,” an effort that shockingly failed when Sen. John McCain gave it a thumbs-down vote. Later they passed $2 trillion in tax cuts on a party-line vote.
The third-ranking Republican, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, said Biden should go back to his campaign and inauguration themes of bipartisanship “and try to live up to it.”
But a generation of House leaders who have served decades with Biden and are nearing retirement are increasingly pushing for Senate filibuster rules changes to counter Republican opposition.
Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., the majority whip, said of Republican obstruction: "If that’s what they're going to do, then they're going to have to live with it, because we’re going to serve it up.”
Party of groupthink .
Lockstep Democrats' progressive priorities give the lie to Biden's promises of 'bipartisanship' and 'unity'.“So, I would say we feel pretty good about that,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily briefing. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist Biden beat to win the Democratic presidential nomination, sang from the same songbook on CNN. Asked about the spending cut from the package to win the votes of a dwindling band of Democratic centrists, Sanders replied, “In my view, this is the most significant legislation for working people that has been passed in decades.