What’s at stake for Joe Biden in the midterm elections

President Joe Biden may not be on the ballot this election cycle, but his agenda is on the line as Democrats defend their congressional majorities.

Biden, making his final pitches to voters ahead of next Tuesday’s races, touts midterms as a critical time for the nation.

“I know there is a lot at stake in these midterm elections, from our economy to the safety of our streets, to our individual freedoms, to the future of health care, social security and ‘medicare,’ Biden said last week. “Everything is important.”

Republicans are favored to regain control of the House, according to FiveThirtyEight’s medium-term forecast. As for control of the Senate, forecasts show an impasse between Democrats and Republicans.

A Republican majority in either chamber would condemn Democratic priorities like climate change, voting rights and access to abortion. And the remaining elements of Biden’s “Build Back Better” framework would likely meet a similar fate.

“I think there were definitely things that were left on the table, like the child tax credit and universal pre-K, that would be very difficult to do in a divided Congress,” said Jim Kessler, director centre-left executive. think tank Third Way, told ABC News.

Although Kessler had some optimism that bipartisan legislation could still pass through a divided Congress, noting that many of Biden’s key legislative achievements have won some Republican support: the CHIPS Act, the Security of firearms and infrastructure law.

“Biden is uniquely qualified to pass bipartisan legislation if necessary,” he said. “He already did.”

President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event supporting Rep. Mike Levin, D-California, Nov. 3, 2022, in San Diego.

Patrick Semansky/AP

But other political strategists have said a Republican majority could make government difficult for Biden.

“The biggest challenge the president and Democrats in Congress are going to face will be the extreme and dangerous Republican caucus,” Craig Varoga, a Democratic strategist, told ABC News.

Republicans have expressed little interest in working with Democrats if they take control of Capitol Hill.

GOP lawmakers are considering rollbacks of Biden’s corporate tax increases, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy has pledged to repeal the $80 billion set aside for the Internal Revenue Service in the cut bill inflation, which Republicans say will lead to more officers pursuing middle-class Americans. Also on the chopping block, McCarthy said, is the steady flow of financial aid to Ukraine as the nation staves off invasion from Russia.

And if Republicans take control of the Senate, they could block Biden’s judicial nominees, who need a majority vote to be confirmed.

Yet no legislation will cross the finish line without Biden’s signature — setting up potential showdowns between him and a Republican Congress.

Several House Republicans have already pledged to launch multiple investigations targeting the administration if they win a majority, including investigations into Hunter Biden, the president’s son. Hunter Biden, who also faces a federal investigation into his tax affairs, has come under scrutiny by the GOP for his international business dealings.

Other potential investigations would likely target COVID-19 policies, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the management of the southern border. Some GOP lawmakers have already moved to impeach Biden as well as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“I’m already being told that if they get back to the House and the Senate, they’re going to impeach me,” Biden told supporters last Thursday. “I don’t know why they’re going to impeach me.”

What the midterms mean for 2024

Some Democratic candidates, especially those in tough races, have distanced themselves from the administration this cycle on hot-button issues like immigration or the economy. Others, like Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, have openly suggested he shouldn’t seek another term.

Biden himself has said he intends to run, but has made no concrete announcement. At 79 and turning 80 later this month, he is currently the oldest person to serve as commander-in-chief in the country’s history.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken in late September found that 56% of Democrats and independents who tend to vote Democrats said they want “someone other than Biden” to run in the next presidential election.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks at a rally of New Mexico Democrats highlighting his Build A Better America initiative, in Albuquerque, NM November 3, 2022.

President Joe Biden speaks during a rally of New Mexico Democrats highlighting his Build A Better America initiative, in Albuquerque, NM on November 3, 2022.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

If Democrats badly lose this round, it could potentially increase calls for Democrats to look elsewhere for a 2024 nominee.

“The stakes are obviously high, but midterm elections that are bad for presidents are the norm, not the exception,” Kessler said, noting that several presidents — most recently former President Bill Clinton and the former President Barack Obama – were eligible for re-election after Democrats lost midterm.

Since the Civil War, the party in the White House has won House seats only three times in 40 attempts. In the Senate, since the beginning of the direct election of senators in 1914, they won or kept their seat only seven times.

If Democrats manage to hold on to their majority in Congress, Kessler said it would be an affirmation that “running a traditional Democratic agenda through Congress works.”

ABC News

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