by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Naomi Lim of the Washington Examiner documents President Biden’s early setbacks as his administration starts its work.
President Biden’s closest advisers are discovering — or in some cases, rediscovering — that governing is harder than campaign-trail promises to return technocratic policymaking to Washington.
Several of Biden’s senior aides, whose collective experience he bragged about during the post-election transition, are not hitting the ground as smoothly as they likely expected almost two weeks after they moved into the White House and other federal government offices.
Biden hosted a Monday evening Oval Office meeting with Senate Republicans, for example, after complaints he hadn’t adequately consulted them and their colleagues regarding a coronavirus relief package. That’s despite Biden repeatedly saying that he would prefer to broker a bipartisan deal rather than resorting to a budgetary procedure called reconciliation to ram his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” through the Senate with only Democratic support.
Political analyst Dan Schnur, a Republican-turned-independent now at the University of Southern California, said Biden should be more concerned about challenges from his own party than across the political aisle.
“Biden wants to be a bipartisan president, but he doesn’t seem to want to push back at congressional Democrats,” Schnur told the Washington Examiner. “There might still be a sweet spot that allows him to do both of those things. But right now, he might be the only one in Washington who can see it.”
Reconciliation requires a simple majority instead of a 60-vote, filibuster-proof margin in the Senate. But rather than trying to earn Republican support, the administration seems nervous that it won’t even be able to muster all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them behind the package after what was widely regarded as a ham-handed attempt to pressure centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.