The Week Biden’s Agenda Hit a Wall

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President has little room to maneuver after shocks on voting laws, vaccine rules, economy

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It also highlighted key strategic decisions made by the president and his allies: Right out of the gate, Mr Biden pursued a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid bill, which some economists warned would lead to inflation. They decided to pursue an employer-vaccine mandate that was both legally questionable and politically controversial. And he passed the voting law as an absolute moral imperative, even if it would have persuaded moderate Democrats to reverse a long-standing position on Senate rules.

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For a president who has often noted that “all politics is personal,” he took another hit when he sought to deploy his powers of persuasion in a chamber where he served for 36 years.

Kirsten Cinema (D., Ariz.) took to the Senate floor to protest a change in rules to advance legislation, shortly before the presidential convoy arrived on Capitol Hill Thursday for talks with Senate Democrats. – Essentially overthrow the president of his party.

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And after listening to Biden during a private lunch, Sen. Joe Manchin (d., W.V.A.) clarified what he had been saying for months: “I want to eliminate or undermine the filibuster. Will not vote,” which will be required if the law is to give any chance.

Criticism is likely to intensify over the past several days from Republicans, some of the Democratic Party and voters that Mr Biden has played cards he holds badly, a sentiment largely reflected in his low approval rating. That was 42% on Friday, down from 53% when he took office, according to the FiveThirtyEight referendum.

Vaccines, for example, have slowed down in the first few months after a successful initial few months of vaccine delivery, which has led to a national vaccination rate exceeding 60%. The issuance of the vaccine mandate – while backed by many public-health experts and most Democrats – sparked political controversy, created confusion among employers, angered those who saw it as a violation of their personal liberties, and ultimately led to the latest legal Shock paved the way. Supreme court.

Meanwhile, the latest jobs report released late last week showed the economy had created 199,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, which Mr Biden told a White House appearance.

A few days later, however, consumer prices eclipsed the news, reaching their highest level since 1982 in December, providing some confirmation to those who last spring contributed $1.9 trillion in aid to a recovering economy. Argued against injecting.

“He gives this win-lap speech on the economy and then a few days later we get the worst inflation numbers—it seems out of touch,” said Stephen Moore, who served as economic adviser to former President Donald Trump. “I think it’s a crisis moment for this presidency.”

Mr Biden’s decades in the Senate established him as a deal maker in a 50-50 chamber split, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tiebreaking vote. He got there on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan. But he has been unable to garner support for two other key legislative priorities—the roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better Bill and changes to voting laws that Democrats say are needed to counter Republican initiatives at the state level. Months of repeated, oft-repeated personal talks have rocked neither Mr. Manchin nor Ms. Cinema.

Some of Mr Biden’s former Senate aides leveled the big blame on him. But he does not hesitate to express his blow to the democratic morale born of inertia.

Bernie Sanders (I, VT) said in an interview, “The sensor has stalled near us because of manchines and cinema blockades.” “I’ll tell you right now that I’m very afraid a lot of Democrats are getting discouraged.”

Mr. Biden sought to rally his party with a fiery speech earlier this week ahead of the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In his Atlanta speech, the president spoke of his support for voting rights and changing the filibuster to achieve it. did—and cast those who opposed it, acting like separatists.

This did not persuade either Ms. Cinema or Mr. Manchin. But for some, it stood in contrast to Mr Biden’s campaign promise of national integration after Mr Trump’s unrest. The speech prompted criticism on the Senate floor from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who lamented that it was “deeply non-presidential”, and it also dashed the slim hopes of GOP cooperation on some issues. could do One of Mr. Biden’s aides, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), told CNN the president may have gone “a little too far in his rhetoric.”

Wednesday will be the eve of the first anniversary of Mr Biden’s term, which he will mark with a White House news conference. It’s a made-for-TV program that has been used by many presidents to show supporters and critics alike that they have heard their concerns and are ready for a reboot. So far, there is little sign that the president is considering any drastic measures, either among staff or legislative priorities.

Emerging from his meeting with senators on Thursday, Mr Biden told reporters he would keep fighting for the voting law “as long as I have a breath inside – as long as I am in the White House.” Most observers see this as a waste.

Meanwhile, White House officials have indicated Mr Biden may also pursue a slimmed-down version of the “Build Back Better” proposal in the latest bid to get Censored Cinema and Manchin on board. Chances of success are also less visible.

For Mr Sanders, Mr Biden’s main rival for the Democratic nomination in 2020, trying is now the point.

“I think they can understand why we might not be able to do something,” he said of voters voting Democrats. “But I don’t think they understand or feel sympathetic to us that we are not standing and fighting and facing Republicans.”

White House officials said the president was determined to get his priorities passed, a point that Mr Biden wrapped up the week with a program promoting his new infrastructure law, which calls for five years to repair bridges. Includes a plan to spend $27 billion.

“There’s a lot of talk about disappointment in things we haven’t done,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of them, I might add.”

Write Ken Thomas at [email protected]

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