Biden to Rely on Executive Orders, Appointees to Push Progressive Agenda
While former Vice President Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 as the nation’s 46th president and the Democrats will control both chambers of Congress, that doesn’t assure smooth sailing for his policy agenda, according to experts on both sides of the partisan aisle.
Biden’s problem is the numbers: His party controls the Senate by one vote, that of Vice President Kamala Harris, but only when there’s a split among the upper chamber’s 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.
That means if, for instance, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia goes against the grain of his partisan colleagues, Harris won’t be called on to break a tie on the issue at hand.
In the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presides over a Democratic majority of only 10 votes, but, with three vacancies still to be filled, the advantage easily could slip to single digits.
That might be bad news for the Democratic socialist policies favored by Biden’s far-left supporters such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), including steeply higher corporate and individual tax rates, the Green New Deal, Obamacare expansion, open borders immigration policies, a nationwide minimum wage of $15 or higher, defunding the police, free college tuition and student loan forgiveness, and universal free preschool.
It also means Biden will have to rely upon executive orders (EO), rather than legislative action to turn key pieces of his agenda into federal policy.
Relying on EOs is exactly what Maggie Thomas, Biden’s choice as chief of staff for the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, reportedly is encouraging the incoming president to do on his first day in office.
If Biden follows Thomas’s advice, that first-day EO will create “a government-wide environmental justice initiative” that’s designed to put the left’s social justice issues front and center in environmental policy.
Biden can also be expected to spend much of his first few days in office repealing EOs signed by his immediate predecessor, President Donald Trump, and reinstituting many from Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama.
But for much of the Biden agenda, Congress simply can’t be bypassed, with the result, according to Republican strategist Brian Darling, that “President Biden’s legislative agenda will be a bit dialed back … Biden will be able to do quite a bit through executive actions, but not nearly as much in Congress unless he enlists Republicans to support his agenda items.”
Darling, who has worked in and around Congress for more than two decades, said, “There are moderate Democrats in the House and Senate who like elected office and don’t want to risk losing their jobs in 2022, therefore, they will resist the most extreme elements of the Biden agenda.”
Similarly, when Democratic campaign strategist Robin Biro was asked by The Epoch Times what he would tell Biden if he was a White House legislative strategist, he said, “what I would tell him is there are more conservative Democrats than there are liberal Republicans, and that we need to acknowledge that and be pretty realistic about what we’re putting before Congress, for that reason.”
Biro, who is based in Atlanta and was a regional political director for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, said he senses a renewal of common sense in Biden’s decisions to not lift President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports or tear down the 460 miles of new wall he built on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Looking through Biden’s various proposals, Biro said “there are a lot of good things here for the first 100 days, but there are some things that are going to be a stretch for this divided government that we’ve got.”
Kevin Chavous, another Democratic strategist, told The Epoch Times that he thinks Biden is well-prepared for dealing with an evenly divided Congress, having been there once before under such conditions.
“He’s managed a 50–50 tie in the Senate before when George W. Bush was president, so I think he will be able to get things done,” Chavous said. “He knows how to make the connections to get things done.”
Chavous was referring to May 2001 when Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont left the Republican Party to become an independent and caucus with Democrats, thus forcing the replacing of Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) with Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as Senate majority leader. At that point, Biden had been in the Senate since first being elected in November 1972.
Chavous also noted that Biden continuously served there either as a senator, or in the vice president’s role as the Senate’s presiding officer from 1972 until 2017. That means Biden has more legislative experience than any previous occupant of the Oval Office and should perhaps not be underestimated in terms of his ability to gain congressional approval for controversial proposals.
Even so, Chavous expects Biden to push hardest in his opening days in the Oval Office for the $1.9 trillion CCP virus relief package, but to delay at least for a while an expected push to persuade Americans to continue wearing masks.
“Another one that is definitely going to be very controversial is the mask mandate, requiring people to wear them—not everywhere, but in federal buildings,” said Chavous, who is based in the nation’s capital.
“It will be a win if he rejoins the Paris climate accord. He can say he did that, and maybe hosting a big summit on climate change,” Chavous said, “showing that it is a priority and that he’s trying to take steps to address it.”
But Chavous expects some time to pass before Biden pushes a more comprehensive package of reforms akin to the Green New Deal favored by the most left-wing of Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
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