Biden wants bipartisan action despite the GOP House

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WASHINGTON — In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Joe Biden will tout his accomplishments and make a new call for bipartisan legislation in the divided Congress.

Sitting behind him will be the new Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican who leads a rogue and conservative majority in the House with the power to greenlight or thwart Biden’s best plans.

A White House official said Biden will tout the «transformational» new laws he signed in the past two years and will ask to continue that progress by «working together in the coming year.»

«Behind it all, the President will once again amplify his belief that Democrats and Republicans can work together, as they have for the past two years and as he is committed to doing with this new Congress to do great things on behalf of the Americans». people,» said the White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the content of Biden’s speech.

The speech highlights a challenge for Biden: figuring out what can realistically happen in a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-led Senate, and creating a fertile environment for it.

The legislative agenda for the next two years falls into three categories: viable areas for common ground, ambitious activities where the parties are likely to be too far apart to reach consensus, and must-pass items that will be needed to avoid shutdowns. government or economic crises. .

Deal Opportunities

When asked what topics they can find common ground on, the most common word lawmakers respond with is: China.

The issue has grown in importance after the United States shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US coast. House Republicans have established a select committee on US-China relations. The president, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, and the top Democrat, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, have called for a consensus approach to counter China’s rise. But it remains to be seen whether the issue will produce bipartisan legislation or turn into political football.

A senior House Republican aide said there may also be limited opportunities for cooperation on energy, noting that the House passed legislation to rein in the use of the strategic oil reserve earlier this year. A Senate GOP aide said there may be another attempt to revise permit requirements for energy and infrastructure projects.

A Democratic Senate aide added Bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the list: “A lot of eggs on a lot of people’s faces and the ideological lines on cryptocurrency aren’t that strong.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, cited three areas where he sees opportunities for legislative action: “Mental health and addiction. Deal with China. Semiconductors and artificial intelligence”.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., his Democratic co-chairman, said the possibilities include opioid addiction, mental health, and domestic manufacturing and building China’s competitiveness law that passed last year with a kind of «Chips 2.0». He said there are «a number of common sense issues» that present opportunities.

But others are more pessimistic. Asked what the prospects are for common ground, a House Republican aide responded: «Not much.» The aide cited standing up to China and addressing the fentanyl crisis.

Image: House Speaker McCarthy holds his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at a news conference at the US Capitol building on Thursday.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Problems that face great probabilities

The list of issues that are unlikely to generate cooperation is long, given the strong conservative leaning of the new Republican majority that showed up in the 15 ballots it took McCarthy to become president.

It begins with what’s left of Biden’s ambitious agenda in his first two years, primarily the economic and safety-net elements in his Build Back Better package that were left in the courtroom due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, DW. Goes. That includes things like child care, paid leave, cash payments to families and programs to phase out fossil fuels.

Biden and nearly all Democrats want to raise taxes on corporations and higher income earners to generate more revenue, but many of those proposals were thwarted last year by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

While Democrats won a 51st Senate seat in the 2022 midterm elections, all those ideas are dead coming to the new Republican-controlled House over the next two years.

Biden’s renewed call for stronger gun violence prevention laws is also being poorly received by Republicans.

There is some talk about immigration reform, but the two sides have very different priorities on how to do it. The issue has plagued all three of Biden’s immediate predecessors, even in less partisan settings, so many advisers in both parties are pessimistic about reaching a deal, even on a limited bill.

And from the point of view of the GOP, legislation passed by the House to repeal Biden-backed measures like additional funds from the IRS it will not survive the Democratic-led Senate or Biden’s veto. Conservative goals on the border, education and a host of cultural issues will also be a hard sell without compromise.

essential invoices

The biggest bill to pass on the agenda involves the debt ceiling, which Congress must extend by what the Treasury Department says is a June 5 deadline to act or risk economic calamity. So far, Biden and McCarthy are deadlocked: The president insists he’s a non-negotiable and McCarthy again offered no specific spending cuts in a debt-ceiling speech on Monday.

“Default on our debt is not an option,” McCarthy said. «But neither is a future of higher taxes, higher interest rates, and an economy that doesn’t work for American workers.»

There is also government funding, which is due on September 30.

Fitzpatrick identified several other «must-have pieces of legislation» that Congress will need to find a resolution on: Reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Section 702, which allows the US to spy on suspected terrorists abroad. .

The Senate Democratic aide said farm policy involving growers and producers is another opportunity given the need to pass a farm bill, one that could relate to competition from China and egg prices.

Some see the bills that must pass as a vehicle to advance priorities, given the limited legislation that will move from the Capitol to the White House for enactment. “I don’t have high hopes that this will be a very productive Congress in terms of legislation,” the Democratic aide said, adding that the next two years will be more significant in terms of protecting and implementing Biden’s laws.

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