In Washington, ‘Bipartisan’ Can Mean a Lot of Things
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You might have missed President Joe Biden’s rollout of his infrastructure package SignatureYesterday, he was made law. Use the word “bipartisan” five times in an unusually efficient 11 minutes of remarks.
He noted Democrats and Republicans had worked together to pass the “bipartisan framework.” He said the new “bipartisan law” would modernize ports and airports. And, just in case anyone hadn’t heard him, he hit the point one last time as he got ready to put pen to paper. “Now let me sign this bipartisan bill,” he said.
The bright spot on the South Lawn, which attracted the attention of Republican Senator. Rob Portman and Rep. Don Young is probably an outlier—not a reset—in the deeply divided corridor of power along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Sure, the nation’s new infrastructure law did have some Republican support, and respected GOP legislators helped to write it responsibly. But let’s put that support in context: About the same number of Republicans in the House Voted for infrastructure as votedIt is to impeach Donald Trump. This means that voting along the aisle doesn’t make for a sustainable position. As with so many other things here in Washington: anything seen as Biden’s victory is also viewed as Bad politicsFor Republicans.
13 Republicans in the House supported $550 billion for new roads, bridges, and airport spending over the next 10 year. The same was done by 19 Republican Senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. These 32 Republicans represent 283 of the 283 Republicans in Congress who had votes. This was hardly an act of force nor a battalion or hugs.
The Senators found the attraction of getting money for repairs more appealing than the threat of right-wing retribution. However, this was just the Senators’ perception. YesIt is true. It is real. Three members of that House and two senators already declared their final term. The far right is plotting to primaries the remaining members of the party. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whom Republican Leadership booted from all committees over her earlier incendiary rhetoric, tweeted their names and office phone numbers, calling them “traitors.” Others have been only slightly less caustic.
Three of 32 Republican backers were not present when Biden signed the legacy-defining legislation. A number of them posted pictures of the White House visit by evening. Five Republican Senators were included in this group. StandingWith the First Lady and President. The President and First Lady. You chose to stay away, though it’s safe to assume they’ll take credit with voters once the new tunnels and bridges start to show up back home.
There aren’t a lot of controversial ideas in the first bite of Biden’s infrastructure agenda. The new law actually has the opposite effect. LooksThis is a very similar framework to the one Trump was close to delivering up until he died. DecentAfter Nancy Pelosi stopped him from overseeing oversight, he refused to work with her. This led eventually to his impeachment.
Nevertheless, as wrangling over the bill has dragged on, the package’s sheen has faded. According to polling by Politico/ Morning Consult, 58% of Americans supported the bill when it was first introduced in the Senate back in August. As Republicans continue to work on it, in the service of Biden not winning, support for this bill has dropped 8 percentage points in Politico/ Morning Consult survey. During that same period, support among Republicans in the Politico/ Morning Consult survey fell from 40% to 21%—and 10 of those points have been in the last two weeks. Washington Post/ABC News separate poll shows support of 46% for Republicans.
This zero-sum approach to political power is not new. NBC News’ Steve Kornacki aptly chronicled the partisan nature of the 1990s and its tribalism in The Blue and the Red. The obstruction-as-strategy that began under then-Speaker Newt Gingrich mutated with his coaching a decade later. Republicans met in D.C. just hours following Barack Obama’s 2009 election to devise an opposition strategy. They wanted to oppose everything that he suggested and to make Obamacare wins seem messy. One of the Republican negotiators for Obamacare was Sen. Mike Enzi. He admitted that he never expected to. YesHe was just trying to get the time out. McConnell refused even to look at it when Obama was offered a third Supreme Court nominee and claimed the history of his predecessors.
Democrats can be just as partisan as Republicans on big questions like Trump’s Border wall, Bush’s plans for Social Security and Ronald Reagan’s NominationRobert Bork was elected to the Supreme Court. There’s No doubt about that. But they don’t typically say noPopular and widely sound policies. Take Washington’s response to the pandemic. All Democrats supported the pandemic. contemptuousTrump had recently won his first impeachment. This was because the new reality of this illness was starting to overtake our lives. His dismal approval rating for job was 7% among Democrats according to Gallup.
However, It’s not just one Democrat voted against Trump’s first COVID-19 relief bill. The SimilarWas True for Trump’s second relief bill, too. Third pandemic package was also drafted Three nosThe House Democrats NoneIn the Senate. Unanimously, the fourth was elected. AssistanceFrom all House Democrats with the exception of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. It was passed in the Senate by voice vote. The fifth, including the spending plan for the year, was only two votes away. No VotesTulsi Tlaib, Rashida Tlaib (Democratic Reps.) NoneThe Senate.
When you get to the other side of Biden’s Jan. 20 Inauguration, things start looking a lot different. Biden’s pandemic package won exactly zero Republican Yay!Votes for the HouseOder Senate. His upcoming second bite of infrastructure—which includes dramatic social spending that is less popular than bridges but still a The winner when partisan impulses are checked—is all but certain to meet the same lonely fate.
So while my Instagram timeline yesterday had plenty of smiling selfies taken on Republican staffers’ phones, cross-aisle cooperation isn’t the new normal. In fact, the Republican cheers for Biden’s success are probably notable not for the bipartisanship they suggest, but for their sheer novelty in the Biden era. Bipartisanship does not always work the same way. It is not all bipartisanship equal. FiveThe total amount of $3.8 trillion in Trump’s COVID-19 bills had six Democratic signatures. NaysFinal passage. That’sHow overwhelming bipartisanship should look like
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