Even less than a week into the Biden administration, we can draw some insight into where the administration and Democrats may find success and challenges.
The president immediately put his stamp on broad array of policy areas through the signing of several executive orders, covering everything from rejoining the WHO to repealing the “Muslim ban.” He has also been able to move a number of his key people through the Senate confirmation process, with more on the way later this week.
But there is still no resolution in place that spells out how the 50-50 Senate will operate, gives Democrats committee gavels and assigns members their new committees. But reports indicate senators may follow a resolution framework from the last 50-50 Senate 20 years ago.
Furthermore, the president and his team do not appear to have made much progress on his top legislative priority – his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. While some Republicans have indicated openness to doing more to help attack the pandemic and strengthen the economy, no Republican has endorsed the president’s package or anything close to it.
At the first meeting between the president’s team and key Senate moderates, both Democrats and Republicans raised concerns about the proposal.
All of this is complicated by the president’s call to have a bill signed into law by mid-March when the latest extension of unemployment checks expires, along with the Senate’s impeachment trial starting February 8.
If there is no sign of progress toward a bipartisan agreement within the next week or so, Democrats have signaled they will have no choice but to use the budget reconciliation process to get COVID aid through.