By Jazz Shaw
To say that Joe Biden has an “ambitious agenda” would be to put it mildly. The vast majority of the things he’s planning on doing initially will rely on executive orders, seeking to roll back many of the accomplishments of the Trump administration with the phone and the pen. But as both Obama and Trump learned before him, there’s a limit to how much you can get done without the legislature. Also, any truly radical executive orders will be subject to potential court challenges and injunctions, a tool that Democrats wielded to some effect against Trump. But now, many of the courts that will hear those challenges are more fully stocked with conservative Trump appointees.
Some of the bigger goals that Biden has will have to be done with the participation of the legislature. Chuck Schumer will hold the Senate Majority Leader’s office, but only by his fingernails. Any straight party-line votes in a 50/50 Senate will require Kamala Harris to camp out in the upper chamber and break ties. The Associated Press compiled a list of agenda items that the Senate may and may not be able to deliver for Biden. They’re considerably more optimistic on a few of them than might be merited, but it’s worth taking a look.
With Democrats chairing committees in the Senate and only needing a majority to win floor votes on nominations, Biden is now assured of sealing confirmation of his Cabinet and judicial picks — including potentially for the Supreme Court. It also means controversial choices such as Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick for budget director, can look ahead to assuming their posts. Republicans can slow but not stop nominations.
I would agree for the most part that Biden should be able to run most of his cabinet nominations through unless he really goes off the deep end on some of them. But there’s a reason I’m stressing the word “most” here and it will apply to virtually all of the categories being covered. Schumer can’t afford to lose a single vote if the Senate GOP stands shoulder-to-shoulder. (Not assured, but they’ve done pretty well in that regard over the past few years.) We’ve previously discussed how West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin can be cantankerous at times, and already has been over the recent week. But he’s not the only one. There are other Democratic Senators from marginal seats who know they can only go just so far off the port side. Both of the newly arriving senators from Georgia are perfect examples. If you have any hopes for a second term, you can’t start delivering on the socialist wish list. That applies to SCOTUS picks as well. I predict that a few of Biden’s nominations will go down in flames or be withdrawn when it becomes obvious that the votes just aren’t there.
SETTING THE AGENDA
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — he’ll be majority leader once the two new Georgia senators and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are all sworn into office — now has the opportunity to bring legislation to the floor and force votes. That could permit passage of $2,000 direct COVID-19 relief payments and other aid, for instance, and could mean debates on issues like police reform, immigration and climate change. But passage of such legislation would require support from Republicans, which gives the minority party enormous leverage.
That’s something of a generic category. Yes, just like Mitch McConnell before him, Schumer will be able to decide which bills live to see the light of day and have a vote. But that doesn’t mean they will all pass. If he’s smart about whipping his vote counts, some Biden wish list items won’t be brought to the floor if Chuck knows they will fall short. A bigger COVID relief bill? Sure. But that could have probably passed anyway as a number of Republicans are on board. As the AP points out, tougher bills requiring the ability to prevent a filibuster will fall short repeatedly. Keep your eye on Biden’s plans for a new immigration bill for one example. Any massive amnesty plan likely won’t draw more than one or two Republicans and they might even lose Joe Manchin.
That brings us to the things that even the Associated Press is willing to admit are probably pipe dreams for Biden.
ELIMINATION OF THE FILIBUSTER
Before the November election, pressure had been mounting from the Democratic left to eliminate the filibuster, leading Republicans to charge that Democrats would pack the Supreme Court or give statehood to Democratic strongholds such as the District of Columbia. Moderate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he’ll block any attempt to eliminate the filibuster, so party progressives may be wasting their breath on this topic now.
There you have it. Joe Manchin is rearing his head already. And there’s not one Republican in the chamber that would support ending the filibuster entirely with the Democrats in charge. If they managed to do it, we would close to 2008 territory, but that’s the GOP’s firewall right now.
PROGRESSIVE MESSAGING PRIORITIES
A 50-50 Democratic Senate and bare control of the House grant virtually any individual Democrat the ability to gum up the works. That means impossible-to-pass ideas like “Medicare for All” and a Green New Deal aren’t going to be the focus of Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That could, over time, frustrate liberals and cause them to issue demands related to bills that actually can pass like infrastructure spending and budget reconciliation proposals.
This is the other half of the equation that doesn’t just involve Manchin and a few other senators from red/purplish states.
I would remind us that there were some “principled” Democrats that held out on supporting Obamacare… until they got paid with pork. Manchin might actually stand against the socialist agenda, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him bought off or, as Obama did, given cabinet posts so he could be replaced with a more malleable vote.
I suspect there are enough sane republicans in the Senate to vote with democrats on any essential and genuinely useful legislation. That should become much easier without Donald Trump terrorizing the GOP into submission. Truth be told, a lot of sane republicans are probably glad to see him gone.
Then there won’t be any Republicans voting with Democrats. Democrats wouldn’t know essential and useful legislation if it was written on their forearms.
And how did he do that?
Everyone knows how he did that. They were in fear of Trump’s power over the minds of their constituents back home, knowing he would subject anyone who got in his way to politically damaging personal attack, insults, and humiliation.
Oh. “Mind control”. But you believe all Republicans where tinfoil hats, so how would that work? I suppose you fully approve of Pelosi THREATENING members of the House unless they do her bidding. Pelosi, who puts the turd Swalwell, KNOWN to be compromised by the CCP and who tipped is spy/whore off that the FBI was on to her so she could escape, on the Intel and Homeland Security Committees. Pelosi, who puts socialists and anti-Semites on the Oversight Committee, all because he personal power to threaten and persuade is failing.
As per the normal pattern, you cannot back up anything you accuse. One wonders why you continue to lie here when you KNOW you will be called on it.
@Deplorable Me: “One wonders why you continue to lie here when you KNOW you will be called on it.” The boy can’t hep it, he wuz born that way.
They need to get over the illusion of a 50/50 Senate. When you have to rely on one member from the other party to save you from yourselves, you have a serious problem. The demokrats can ram whatever they want through. The Republicans have proven themselves to be a party that cannot be taken seriously. The dems don’t respect them because they know they have nothing to fear from them. The majority of their supporters also don’t respect them either. That’s what happens when you throw your supporters under the bus and side with your opponents, and extremist ones at that. On January 6th, the Republicans chose the same path Fox News did. Look at what happened to Fox. Then they doubled down and blamed the Capitol incursion on President Trump before the evidence came out showing this was the dems’ version of the Reichstag fire. Like Fox, the left hates them and their base no longer trusts them.
Yesterday, Breitbart ran an article about Tom Cotton warning of the damage Biden’s amnesty plan was going to do. Know what the majority of the comments were about? Not about slamming Biden’s plan but rather slamming Tom Cotton and the rest of the Senate “Republicans” who threw us under the bus on January 6th.
@another vet: You have to consider the position Republicans are in. Democrats can fabricate a lie against a Republican they want destroyed or controlled and the media will come a-runnin’ with guns blazing to help. But when there are facts incriminating a Democrat, they can lie and the propaganda media will suppress it as much as they can and lie about what leaks out.
THAT is what is destroying this nation. Without the lying, complicit media, Democrats and Republicans would be relegated having to serve their constituents.
I understand the deck is stacked against them and that fear may have played into some of their votes on the 6th. Look at what the demokrats did to Josh Hawley for doing the same thing they did in 2016. The bottom line is that they waved the white flag which will only encourage them even more. McConnell came out again today and blamed President Trump for the Capitol incident. No mention of the dems’ BLM and Antifa minions who helped provoke it.