Biden Shifts Gears

After focusing on the crisis in Ukraine almost exclusively in the weeks since Russia’s invasion, President Biden and his aides are shifting toward their domestic agenda. 

Democrats are seeking to pass pieces of the Build Back Better plan that may garner bipartisan support with midterms on the horizon. Another priority for Congress in the next work period is reaching a compromise on a COVID-19 funding package. 

But obstacles to swift passage remain—like Democrats’ insistence on including $5 billion for global vaccination initiatives. Republicans are also demanding an amendment to prevent the CDC from rolling back Title 42 – the Trump-era immigration rule authorizing the expedited deportation of asylum seekers to prevent COVID-19’s spread.

The America COMPETES Act, an innovation and competition package, is also bogged down. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation could impede efforts to reach agreement on the largely bipartisan legislation before Memorial Day.

On the Ukraine front, Biden and U.S. allies have ramped up military aid and expanded sanctions after Russia’s renewed offensive inflicted heavy civilian casualties this week. Biden also announced another $800 million security assistance package after Putin test fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile, inflaming concerns among Western officials that he is growing more isolated and embracing provocative tactics to assert Russia’s strength. 

Congress is expected to embrace Biden’s funding request upon returning to Washington after its two-week recess.