The idea of uniting all Americans is the main gamble of Joe Biden’s rhetoric, but in practice it has the potential to become one of his government’s first obstacles. The conciliatory profile of the new US president may help delay approval of the main economic relief plan in the face of the pandemic and further deepen divisions within the Democratic Party.
Biden has taken control of a country devastated by the coronavirus and has worked to show that his priority is to fight Covid-19, which has already killed more than 400,000 people in the United States.
At the start of the Oval Office, the Democrat signed several executive orders that centralize the fight against the pandemic in the White House, but a large chunk of them depends on resources that have yet to be approved by the polarized US Congress.
Even before Biden took office on Wednesday, Democratic leaders were articulating ways to quickly seal the $ 1.9 trillion ($ 10 trillion) economic relief plan the new president saw as ideal. , but under strong resistance from the Republicans.
To bypass opponents, some Democrats wanted to use a so-called “conciliation” mechanism, which allows them to speed up the vote on budget projects in the Senate.
The arrangement only requires a simple majority to approve measures that involve a budget and prevent the use of obstruction by opponents – with the Senate now divided between 50 votes for Republicans and 50 for Democrats, with a VP Kamala Harris tie-break winner. the government would be virtually guaranteed. Biden, however, halted the movements, frustrating his party colleagues.
A professional politician for 48 years and known for his skillful negotiating power, he told his allies that he did not want to force their hand and would rather try to win the Republicans vote, in a nod to bipartisanship and the unity which was the motto of his campaign. and inaugural speech.
According to the Politico website, Biden aides have already reached out to moderate Republican senators, like Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), to set up discussions on the matter. The president’s stance, however, angered Democratic lawmakers who wanted to act quickly and avoid the stumbling blocks that marked the start of the term of Barack Obama, for which Biden was an MP.
The observation is that, in the middle of multiple crises, there is no more time for negotiations which can cost significant figures for the project. If approved, the package will free up money to help fight the virus and fulfill Biden’s promise to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days.
The first black president in the history of the United States also tightened the rope in an attempt to win the Republicans vote in favor of his economic package, in the face of the financial crisis of 2008, but ended up adopting smaller measures and more subtle than he would have thought. There is a consensus among analysts that Biden won’t do much beyond the pandemic and the economic crisis until mid-2022.
Democrats have a majority in the House and Senate – in this one, with the Kamala minerva vote – but they risk losing that advantage in the legislative elections late next year. In The Atlantic magazine, journalist Derek Thompson writes that Biden should “go big, fast and simple” without “repeating Obama’s mistakes” if he is to leave his legislative marks in one of the worst times in history American.
According to Thompson, Obama thought he would get the vote of Republican lawmakers by creating a favorable social medium for his key measures among Americans – which has not entirely happened.
This time the context is different. The crisis in the United States involves the worst pandemic in the last 100 years, deaths from Covid-19 are expected to hit the sad half a million next month, and the vaccination program, which began in December, has been long overdue since. a long time – of 37 million doses distributed, only 17 million were administered in the country.
But that doesn’t seem to work in Biden’s favor in terms of political couture. The scenario is already making analysts wonder how far the president will insist before accepting that Republicans must not give in and how the Democrat will act next, in other important votes.
Moderate Republican senators – and who used to publicly criticize now ex-President Donald Trump – Mitt Romney (Utah) and Susan Collins (Maine) have already signaled that they will not vote for a 1.9 package. trillion dollars. .
The amount includes $ 415 billion (2.25 trillion reais) for bolstering the pandemic response and immunization, approximately US $ 1 trillion (5.42 billion reais) for direct assistance to families, and 440 others. U.S. dollars. billion (2.38 trillion reais) in incentives for small businesses and communities particularly affected by the coronavirus.
The emergency aid offered by Biden to American families is US $ 1,400 (R $ 7,600), in addition to checks for US $ 600 (R $ 3,250) already approved by Congress.
Added to the articulation difficulties is the debate on Trump’s impeachment, which was approved by the House on January 13 and is expected to be referred to the Senate on Monday (25). The trial that could even take away the former president’s political rights and prevent him from running for the White House again in 2024 is expected to divert parliamentarians from any other type of vote.
Aware of the obstacles, Biden on Friday (22) signed two executive orders to boost emergency aid while failing to advance the economic package in Congress – the executive orders aim to increase assistance programs for the unemployed and those who use food banks, to act directly in the fight against hunger, in addition to strengthening the social rights of workers.
A day earlier, Biden had already signed ten more executive orders, which established a mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving in the United States and required masks to be used in public buildings, airports, planes, trains and buses. Others, like the application of the Covid-19 detection tests for the reopening of schools until May and the reimbursement of states that have sent their national guards to step up the fight against the pandemic, also depend on the approval of the economical package.
Executive decrees do not need the approval of the Legislative Assembly, but they can be challenged in the courts.
After a season of armistice during the election campaign, members of the far left wing of the Democratic Party are starting to worry about the flood of decrees and are already admitting in private that many of them should not come to fruition.
Still others don’t like what Biden left out of his government agenda and think of ways to press him for more structural advances. Despite symbolic measures on the climate and the environment, like the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement, Biden will not embrace, for example, free health for all, the banner of Senator Bernie Sanders, or the “Green New Deal” – dish on which Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez proposed changes in the US economy so that 100% of energy demand is met from clean and renewable sources.
Biden is a centrist politician, but he formed a wide arc to beat Trump, which involved all nuances of his party. From inside the White House, the president will have to deal with the demands of a much stronger Democratic left than in Obama’s day, while calculating the political cost of the negotiation on the other side of Congress as well. .