One of President Biden’s favorite phrases is “science is back.” After four years of the Trump administration’s deregulatory policies, drilling permits for federal lands and denialism in the face of climate catastrophe, Biden makes a point of proving he will listen to scientists when it comes to preventing full-blown disaster.
The Senate has always been and will always be a body that wildly overrepresents the interests of white, rural voters who skew more conservative. Despite this fact, Sen. Manchin believes Republican senators have a right to unilaterally obstruct Senate business. Democrats won control of the White House, the U.S. House and the Senate in just four years — for the first time since 1932 — and Manchin still will not relieve McConnell of his veto power.
Last week, the White House unveiled the American Jobs Plan, a $2.3 trillion stimulus package meant to bolster America’s infrastructure, manufacturing sector and R&D and workforce development programs. It’s an ambitious framework and it’s more than necessary, but President Joe Biden’s main challenge is selling it to fellow Democrats.
The most immediate logistical challenge for Biden is what to do about the crisis on the southern border. As xenophobia helps drive some Republicans’ electoral successes, many have been trying to pin the crisis on Biden to better their chances in 2022. But an honest evaluation of the situation makes Biden look more hypocritical than pro-immigrant.
It has become increasingly clear in the first 50 days of his presidency that Joe Biden may not even be the most important “Joe” in Washington. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who has consistently inhabited the vanishing political center, has had and will continue to have the final say over what President Biden can get through Congress.
McConnell’s blatant obstructionism and norm breaking were the defining characteristics of his tenure as majority leader from 2015 to 2021. Had he retained his Senate majority following the 2020 elections, McConnell likely would have killed nearly all of President Biden’s proposals by the time they reached the Senate.
To his credit, Biden promptly made a good-faith, constructive effort to bridge the party’s divides by forming a series of task forces consisting of elected officials, policy thinkers and activists from both the moderate and progressive wings. But the events of last week may have caused irreparable rifts within the party.
For President Biden’s first 100 days, I will be covering this seemingly unworkable dynamic: a sclerotic Senate that caters to more conservative Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, an increasingly populist, left-wing House caucus and a president whose campaign relied heavily on the notion that he could get things done.
Although they each bring years of experience in the national security arena, they personify a managerial, technocratic, return-to-normalcy establishment rather than the progressive leadership we need right now. It’s safe to assume Biden’s remaining cabinet nominees will be no different.