By: Jack Madden
President Biden’s term has already involved signing numerous executive orders, reversing several decisions made by former President Trump. He has reentered the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization; he cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline and halted construction of the Mexican border wall. All of those actions listed happened on just the first day of his presidency. President Biden has also overturned President Trump’s trans-military ban and instituted a course of action to combat discrimination of trans athletes, protecting the rights of trans Americans.
President Biden’s nominees for Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and Secretary of the Treasury have all been confirmed, while his other appointments are still waiting in the barely held Democratic Senate. The first 100 days of any presidency are the most effective, and the first two years being the only two years presidents are able to get things done, especially for Democrats. This phenomenon is due to the president’s party usually suffering losses in the midterm year, with Democrats losing due to a turnout dropping and Republicans due to turnout soaring (like in 2018). So, what can America see from the Biden-Harris Administration’s first three and a half months? Sadly, not very much. If historical precedence is anything as an indicator, Mitch McConnell will stonewall anything Biden wants to get done, using the very powerful filibuster. In the case of a filibuster, 60 senators must agree to have a vote, essentially saying 60 votes are needed to pass a bill. Since Democrats are 10 votes away from that magic 60, they will likely not get much done.
However, some Republicans may work with bipartisan Biden on issues such as non-economic Covid-19 relief, which helps with testing, vaccine distribution, medical supplies, and maybe some limited state and local government support. Mitch McConnell will likely not agree to anything else, since Republicans have never worked in truly good faith with a Democratic presidency on a long-term basis and in big ways since Lyndon Johnson. Republicans know that if Biden gets what he wants even in a compromised form, Democratic voters will go to the polls in 2022 and vote in Democratic governors again while voting out Republican Congressmen. Former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid said that the filibuster being gone is only a matter of when, which very well could happen. Democrats could change filibuster rules exempting more legislation, such as DC and Puerto Rico statehood, from a GOP filibuster and maybe some economic legislation. Finally, Joe Biden has said he is very willing and excited to work with Republicans, yet many Democrats realize that President Obama also attempted to work with the GOP, so many Democrats won’t be willing to bother trying again. As Mitch McConnell said in 2010, “our top political priority over the next two years is to deny President Obama a second term.” One could only hypothesize that’s what Republicans are thinking right now, but only for Biden.