by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden is struggling to come to terms with the Congress he has. All indications suggest he is firing off legislation for the one he wants as he prepares to deliver two more $2 trillion dollar spending packages to Capitol Hill.
Similar to billionaire businessman and former President Donald Trump before him, Biden pitched his almost 40 years as a U.S. senator as evidence he would be able to strike bipartisan deals with Republicans — and centrist Democrats from swing and red states.
But Congress passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package last month with no Republican support, negotiations getting caught in snags created, in part, by Democrats — and Republicans who never offered a counterproposal the other side would even entertain. Now, Biden and his aides are poised to clear his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan using the same unilateral process.
This time, some Democrats, again, aren’t onside. At least not yet. Though Biden is Washington veteran enough to realize his party’s control over all three levers of the legislative process could end with the next election cycle, meaning he is going big now.
Biden may have campaigned on unity, but he misjudged how united Republicans would be against his legislative agenda, according to Lawrence Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
Biden’s inability to find common ground with Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who proposed a $618 billion counteroffer to his coronavirus package with nine other GOP senators, was the most pointed example, Jacobs told the Washington Examiner. The White House was quick to dismiss it as a low-balled pitch, making Biden’s inaugural address calling for bipartisanship seem “quaint and dated,” Jacobs said.