Throughout the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden was touted as a seasoned political dealmaker with a knack for reaching across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, and even after his election, he promised to “be a President for all Americans – whether [they] voted for me or not.”
However, just weeks into his first term, it has become apparent that substantive cooperation with Republicans was never really a serious priority for Biden and his team, as GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told the Washington Examiner.
Biden began his first term in what outwardly appeared to be a spirit of collaboration with colleagues on the other side of the political spectrum, meeting with a group of 10 Republican senators about the prospect of paring down the massive coronavirus relief package the president made a key priority upon taking office.
It did not take long, however, for it to become apparent that GOP support for the bloated “American Rescue Plan” would not materialize and that Biden was not particularly bothered by the fact, maintaining, “Look, the American people strongly support the bill. That’s the key.”
In an attempt to justify the lack of compromise on COVID-19 aid, White House press secretary Jen Psaki offered her own twist on the concept of bipartisanship, arguing that “it is not determined by a single zip code in Washington, D.C. It’s about where American people sit and stand, and a vast majority of the American people support the Rescue plan,” as the Examiner noted.
O’Connell goes on to explain that only a fraction of the coronavirus relief plan was designed to provide cash payments to strapped Americans and assist with public health needs, with much of the remainder going toward helping fiscally mismanaged blue states.
As such, he claims, the bill “never was intended to get bipartisan support,” and that Biden’s stated interest in consensus was illusory from the start.
Further evidence of Biden’s apparent disinterest in achieving legislative compromise and collaboration can be found in his embrace of the controversial “For the People Act,” a sweeping electoral overhaul measure also known as H.R. 1. Republicans have assailed the bill as “fundamentally rewriting the rules of American politics and campaign finance laws” to ensure that they can “control Congress and the White House for years to come.”
With increasing numbers of Democrats now pushing to end the legislative filibuster in the Senate to circumvent the otherwise inevitable defeat of H.R. 1 in the upper chamber, there can be little doubt that any prior pretense about consensus or unity on the part of Biden and his allies on the left was just that.