Biden Takes Heart Stage With Formidable Agenda as Trump’s Trial Ends
WASHINGTON – President Biden’s allies say that after the impeachment process of his predecessor is distracted, he will be quick to push for the passage of his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan before moving on to an even bigger agenda in Congress that is Infrastructure, immigration and crime includes judicial reform, climate change and health care.
Mr Biden has so far managed to move his agenda forward amid the whirlwind of impeachment, trial and acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump. House committees are already debating parts of the coronavirus relief laws he calls the American Rescue Plan. Despite the Trump drama, several president’s cabinet members were confirmed. And Mr Biden’s team urges lawmakers to act swiftly when the Senators return from a week-long hiatus.
Without the spectacle of constitutional conflict, the new president is “now center stage in a way the first few weeks did not allow,” said Jennifer Palmieri, who served as communications director for President Barack Obama. She said the end of the process means “2021 can finally begin”.
In a post-trial statement, Mr. Biden reiterated his hopes for bipartisan support and pledged to work bipartisan to “heal the soul of the nation.” But Mr Biden’s outlook is compounded by the fact that much of his agenda is aimed at dismantling Mr Trump’s policies or addressing what Democrats have viewed as his failure, especially the fiddled response to the pandemic.
And the 43 “not guilty” votes of the Senate Republicans on Saturday have greatly eased the political opportunities and challenges for Mr Biden: a small minority of Republican Senators willing to defy the wrath of Mr Trump’s powerful political movement by Votes condemn him while Mr Trump continues to rule most of his party.
The reality is that Mr Trump’s influence over Republicans will be an obstacle to Mr Biden’s priorities even if the former president leaves Washington. Even with control of both Houses of Congress, the Democrats will still need Republican support on many of Mr Biden’s agenda items to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
“Trump will certainly continue to be a force in the Republican Party. They have to decide whether or not they are trapped in it, ”said Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “President Biden is focused on the welfare of the American people. He won’t be derailed and distracted from this main mission, whatever the sideshow former President Trump does. “
In the past few days, senior members of Mr Biden’s team have started internal meetings at the White House to discuss what the next phase of his agenda will be and how it will be implemented, according to two of the White House’s top advisors. Some of this could be publicly announced in March, if Mr. Biden is expected to deliver a joint address to Congress, as is the custom in the first year of a president’s office.
Administration officials acknowledge that Mr Biden will now receive more public attention, a reality they plan to capitalize on with the President’s first substantive trip outside Washington earlier this week. Mr. Biden will attend a CNN town hall-style event in Milwaukee on Tuesday and travel to another part of the country on Thursday.
“For understandable reasons, there will be more attention than last week,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary. “Now there may be a focus on the president’s agenda again, getting relief into the hands of the American people.”
Public polls show that the president’s agenda is widespread, even among some Republicans. This has added pressure from Democratic progressives to refrain from compromising with Republicans that could dilute Mr Biden’s political proposals. And Republicans, still bracing for the loss of the Senate and White House, have not yet banded together in a rigorous substantive assault on the president’s agenda.
“He may be able to get more of the country on his side when it comes to supporting the agenda as there is no cohesive Republican argument,” said Ms Palmieri of Mr Biden.
Given the wafer-thin margins in Congress, the president’s hopes for a swift implementation of an ambitious agenda are more likely if he can at least count on Republican support. And Mr. Trump’s influence on the party threatens the prospect of bipartisan cooperation.
For the first 24 days of Mr Biden’s presidency, Mr Trump had a constant presence – not on the Twitter account he is prohibited from using, but as an impeachment target to spark a riot to prevent his own fall. Reporters camped in Palm Beach, Florida as wall-to-wall cable networks covered the Senate trial that would determine its fate.
Mr Biden tried to distance himself from the debate over whether Mr Trump should be held accountable for the January 6th uprising in the Capitol for fear it would lose momentum on his agenda.
Even when the process is over, Mr Trump seems unwilling to lose sight of the nation’s psyche. Former President aides say Mr. Trump plans to hold a press conference from Mar-a-Lago, his home in Florida, in the coming days. In a statement immediately following the end of the process, Mr Trump, who has expressed an interest in running for president again in 2024, indicated that he had no plans to disappear from television screens or from the political life of Republicans in Congress.
“Our historical, patriotic and beautiful movement to make America great again has only just begun,” wrote the former president. “I have a lot to share with you in the months ahead and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it! “
Ms Psaki said the president, who steadfastly refused to comment on the ongoing impeachment process, is not focusing on Mr Trump. She said that mentions of his comments or activities were very rare in private conversations between the president and his aides.
“The political campaign is over,” she said. “He hit Donald Trump. He and we don’t want to get involved in this fight again. “
Presidents often refer to their predecessors long after they left the world’s largest bullying pulpit.
When Mr. Obama took office in 2009, he vowed to end his predecessor George W. Bush’s “cowboy diplomacy” and blamed him for the country’s economic problems. In 2017, Mr. Trump repeatedly downgraded Mr. Obama to encourage the change he felt was necessary.
But perhaps more than any other past president, Mr Biden has used Mr Trump as an effective political slide, constructing his agenda almost entirely as a rejection of Mr Trump’s policies and personal conduct during his turbulent four years in office.
Mr Biden’s first actions on Day 1 were a bolt of executive orders designed to undo many of Mr Trump’s policies in a single day. And he often sees his broader agenda as the necessary response to actions his predecessor took or did not take. Late last week, he said again that Mr Trump’s administration had left the government with too few tools to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“What we thought was available, from vaccine to vaccine, was not the case,” Biden told a bipartisan group of mayors and governors.
Joe Lockhart, who served as press secretary for President Bill Clinton, said the most important thing Mr Biden can do to advance his broad agenda is to succeed in fighting the pandemic and efforts to repair the battered economy.
“Where he will gain political capital is to compare his handling of the pandemic to the disastrous efforts of the Trump administration,” Lockhart said. Ending impeachment, he said, “frees people to focus on it.”
The question for Mr Biden is whether he can use the political space to build support for his proposals. And if he can, will public pressure be enough to convince Republicans in Congress to oppose Mr. Trump’s influence?
Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and a close ally of the president, said Mr. Biden would continue to push for bipartisan collaboration on coronavirus relief law and other priorities. But he said he was confident the president would not be put off by the Republican opposition.
“He’s making strides in the relief backed by three-quarters of the American people,” Coons said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “And from the way he spoke when he was inaugurated, to the actions he took in the first few weeks, he shows us what real presidential leadership looks like in sharp contrast to his predecessor.”