I have been browsing many articles over the past few days that ponder the question of whether Joe Biden will be able to get his legislative agenda through Congress. They are all nuanced and carefully written, which means they are all wrong. Here is the answer:
No. Republicans in the Senate will block just about everything and Democrats don’t have the votes to end the filibuster.
I don’t know how much clearer Republicans need to be about this. They are not going to vote to convict Donald Trump.¹ They are not going to pass a huge coronavirus bill. They are not going to raise the minimum wage to $15. They are going to do exactly what they did in 2009: oppose everything.
Nor is there anything really unusual about this. Historically, Democratic presidents can pass significant legislation only if they come to office with big majorities in Congress. Obama had that for a little while. LBJ had it for a couple of years. FDR had it for his entire first term. Ditto for Woodrow Wilson. Bill Clinton didn’t have it and he struggled. Obama got little done after 2010. And Biden has both the thinnest possible majority and a Republican Party more opposed to passing Democratic legislation than any we’ve ever seen.
So that’s that. Biden might be able to pass a few things via reconciliation. He might be able to swing a few modest deals in the annual appropriations bill. But that’s it.
Any other questions?
¹I’m almost inclined to weasel on this since we don’t know what further outrages we will discover over the next few weeks about Trump’s actions to overturn the election results. But no. I suspect we could have video evidence of Trump trying to personally deliver a bag of cash to the Georgia attorney general and that still wouldn’t garner 17 Republican votes for conviction in the Senate.