by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden is deploying two diametrically opposed strategies for handling congressional Republicans as campaign season kicks into full swing.
One has Biden ramping up on the “ultra-MAGA” GOP heading into the midterm elections, while the other sees him quietly ceding ground to the opposition to ensure the passage of his spending proposals.
The second dynamic was illustrated by the House’s passage of a nearly $40 billion Ukrainian aid package. Biden had previously sent Congress joint requests for supplemental aid for Ukraine and additional COVID-19 funding, but he eventually caved to Republican calls to decouple the requests. …
… The bill passed by the House is noticeably larger than Biden’s original request and includes nearly $4 billion more in humanitarian aid than what the White House asked for. Fifty-seven Republicans voted against the bill, with reasons ranging from not being able to read the text until midnight on Tuesday morning to wanting the Biden administration to focus on border security rather than the pandemic.
Furthermore, a group of Republican lawmakers has also expressed openness to meeting Biden’s COVID-19 request, should the president postpone ending Title 42, the pandemic-era order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowing for the immediate expulsion of asylum-seekers at the southern border.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not say Tuesday if the president would consider preserving Title 42 in exchange for another round of COVID-19 funding. …
… Two senior Republican Senate staffers both suggested to the Washington Examiner their bosses would likely support Biden’s COVID-19 request if Title 42 was allowed to remain in place, but did not say whether the had offices been in communication with the White House on the issue.
A third staffer, however, told the Washington Examiner there’s a “fat chance” any Republican lawmakers would “help Biden get a leg up in the midterms.”