At the heart of Joe Biden’s presidential bid was an optimism that Republicans could, and would, change when Donald Trump was no longer president.
“With Donald Trump on the sidelines, you’ll see a number of my Republican colleagues have a revelation. Listen to me carefully. Mark my words, ”Biden said in late 2019.
Biden continued to hold on to that belief, and he touted his record of reaching across the aisle. A month before he took office as president, Biden again predicted “you will see a lot of changesIn the Republican Party with Trump out of the White House, acknowledging that it could take six to eight months, however, before he has a solid working relationship with the GOP.
The moment Republicans are supposed to have their epiphany has arrived, with Biden six months into his presidency. And yet the Republican Party owes Trump more than ever.
There’s a chance that a $ 1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package – an area of interest on both sides of the aisle – that has Biden’s backing, will pass through the Senate. But on Wednesday every GOP senator blocked a vote to begin consideration of the bill, saying that they still have to work out some details. It is still unclear whether this legislation could attract enough votes to pass.
But even if the infrastructure measure passes, that doesn’t mean the GOP has had its epiphany. Both in Washington and in the States, the Republican Party is still firmly in the grip of Trump.
In June, Senate Republicans blocked the For the People Act, a Democratic reform bill that would strengthen access to the vote and implement campaign finance reform measures. Every republican voted against advancing the bill.
“We are one hundred percent focused on stop this new administrationSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last month, a comment that echoed his 2010 remark that the “most important thing” for Republicans “to achieve is that President Obama or a president with a single mandate “.”
More recently, McConnell has stated that he is “highly improbable“Republicans would let Biden fill a vacant Supreme Court seat if they took over the Senate.
“We certainly see the influence of Donald Trump. There is no doubt about it, ”said Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “It has a huge impact on how Republicans respond to critical issues, such as the Jan.6 commission. … I think Donald Trump is still the dominant influence among elected Republican officials.
“I think what candidate Biden said was what we were all hoping to be, but we haven’t seen it come to fruition yet. But maybe we will, ”he added.
The Conservatives also blamed Biden for everything from a shortage of chicken wings and ruining girls’ sport to destroying stay-at-home parenthood.
The clearest demonstration of the Republican Party’s allegiance to Trump was its response to the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill by a crowd of Trump supporters. Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent commission that had bipartisan support and would have investigated the riot and considered how to prevent another fatal incident from progressing.
Allowing the commission to move forward would have reignited the debate – and likely lead to inconvenient conclusions about the former president’s role in encouraging his supporters to march to Capitol Hill and oppose certification election results in favor of Biden.
Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Created a select committee to investigate the riot. Republicans would have the option of nominating members, but Pelosi could reject them. Three of the choices by parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were lawmakers who believed Trump’s lie about the election and voted to overturn the 2020 results after the Capitol riot. (Pelosi rejected two, and McCarthy then withdrew his five picks.)
House Republicans also purged Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) Of her leadership position because she voted to impeach Trump for her role in the Jan.6 riot and continued to criticize him. Cheney, the daughter of a former vice president and once a rising party star, voted with Trump 93% of the time. But his refusal to stand idly by after Jan.6 has called into question his political future within the GOP.
Indeed, there are a few Republicans who have been prepared to demand a different course for their party. But they don’t control the agenda and are often kicked out.
When asked if the Republicans had a post-Trump revelation, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) – one of the few senators willing to break with the former president – replied: “I ‘ got mine early.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Praised Biden for being “incredibly patient” in the pursuit of two-party politics.
“I think he’s really going to try in a very, very sincere and persistent way, which he is doing,” he said. “We are only six months away and there are results to show. I continue to be skeptical. Count me as a skeptic, but I think the president is very clearly in the bipartisan camp. “
The obsession with following Trump extends to the states. Driven by Trump’s lies and plots about election results, Republicans in the Arizona Senate have launched a fake “audit” of presidential election results in the state’s largest county. It is run by a Trump supporter and funded largely by Trump supporters. Even though the Arizona operation has been widely discredited even by some Republicans it still inspires Republicans in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to try to launch similar efforts.
In Michigan, the executive director of the state Republican Party recently resigned after less than six months in post after facing constant criticism and pressure from the grassroots. His mistake? Saying that the election was not stolen and that Trump is to blame for his electoral defeat.
Half of Republican voters also bought into Trump’s lies, according to a Politico / Morning Consult poll released in June, believing that the “audit” could generate evidence that could lead to Trump’s eventual reinstatement as president. A Monmouth University poll in late February also found that 65% of Republicans don’t think Biden’s victory in 2020 was free from fraud.
And the current nationwide GOP candidates are center their locations on Trump’s false election claims. According to the Washington Post, “Of the nearly 700 Republicans who filed the first papers with the Federal Election Commission to run for the US Senate or House of Representatives next year, at least a third have embraced the false claims. of Trump on his defeat. ”
Since taking office, Biden has acknowledged that the Republican Party was not in the place he hoped it would be.
“I do not understand Republicans, ”he admitted after they voted to expel Cheney from their ranks in May.
“I have been a Democrat for a long time. We went through times when we had internal conflicts and disagreements. I never remember it like that, ”Biden added. “I think Republicans are further trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought at this point.
Biden has had a difficult line to walk on the issue of bipartisanship. He has shown he is ready to move his agenda forward without Republican votes, by signing the US bailout – the massive COVID-19 stimulus package – even though every Republican has voted against it. His administration has consistently emphasized bipartisan public support for elements of the bill, arguing that bipartisanship means more than just having Democratic and Republican votes in Congress.
Nowadays, the pursuit of bipartisanship is more about attracting votes from moderate Democrats, like the senses. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), who have basically said they won’t help their party when he goes it alone. . Their support is crucial since Democrats have only the narrowest margins in the Senate.
But this approach comes with its own risks. Dragging out negotiations in the hope of securing the support of 10 Republicans to overcome an obstruction and pass legislation doesn’t always mean much. And a watered-down compromise package could mean other more progressive Democratic senators refuse to back it.
And ultimately, many Democrats are betting that the public just wants to see some action, regardless of the final breakdown of the votes.
Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) highlighted the US bailout and noted, “I don’t know a single person who asked me what the composition of the vote was. They want to know what is in the bill. So we just need to focus on the delivery and be less obsessed with satisfying the 12 gang-obsessed experts. “
Igor Bobic and Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.
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