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Biden to Call for Bipartisan Action in State of the Union Address Despite Facing a Divided Congress


The US president will highlight the "transformational" laws he signed in the last two years and call for continued progress.

By Sahil Kapur -

NBC News

WASHINGTON — In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Joe Biden will tout his achievements and make a new call for bipartisan lawmaking in a divided Congress.

Behind him will sit the new Speaker of the House, Californian Kevin McCarthy, the Republican who leads a fractious and conservative majority in the House of Representatives with the power to greenlight or thwart Biden's best plans.

A White House official revealed that Biden will highlight the new "transformational" laws he signed in the last two years and call for that progress to be continued "working together in the coming year."

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"The President will re-emphasize his belief that Democrats and Republicans can work together, as they have for the past two years and as he has pledged to do with this new Congress, to achieve great things on behalf of the American people," the president said. White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the content of Biden's speech.

The speech highlights a challenge for Biden: figuring out what can realistically pass in a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-led Senate, and creating a fertile environment for it.

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The legislative agenda for the next two years falls into three categories: viable areas to reach agreement, ambitious targets where the parties are likely to be too far apart to reach consensus, and must-have issues that will be needed to avoid government shutdowns. government or economic crises.

Deal Opportunities

When lawmakers are asked what issues they can find common ground on, the most common word is: China.

The issue has become more relevant after the United States shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US coast.

House Republicans have created a special committee on US-China relations.

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Its chairman, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), have called for a consensual approach to countering China's rise.

But whether the issue will lead to bipartisan legislation or become a political soccer ball remains to be seen.

A senior House Republican aide said there may also be limited opportunities for cooperation on energy, noting that the House passed legislation to curb the use of the strategic oil reserve earlier this year. .

A Republican Party (GOP) aide in the Senate said there might be another attempt to revise permitting requirements for energy and infrastructure projects.

A Senate Democratic adviser added Bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the list: “There are a lot of balls on a lot of people's faces, and the ideological lines on cryptocurrency aren't that strong.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Republican of Pennsylvania and co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, cited three areas where he sees scope for legislative action: “Mental health and addiction.

Fight against China.

Semiconductors and artificial intelligence”.

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Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., his Democratic co-chairman, said the possibilities include opioid addiction, mental health and domestic manufacturing, and taking advantage of last year's China competitiveness law with some kind of

Chips .



He said there are "a number of common sense issues" that present opportunities.

But others are more pessimistic.

Asked what the prospects are for common ground, a GOP aide in the House of Representatives replied: "Not much."

The adviser referred to China and the fentanyl crisis.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Californian Kevin McCarthy, speaks to reporters on Monday, February 6, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Matters with little probabilities

The list of issues unlikely to cooperate is long, given the strong conservative leaning of the new Republican majority, which was evident in the 15 ballots it took for McCarthy to become speaker.

It begins with what's left of Biden's ambitious agenda in his first two years, primarily the economic and safety-net issues of his Build

Back Better

package that fell by the wayside due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. .

This includes issues like child care, paid leave, cash payments to families, and programs to phase out fossil fuels.

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Biden and nearly all Democrats want to raise taxes on businesses and higher incomes to get more revenue, but many of those proposals were shot down last year by Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

Although Democrats captured 51 Senate seats in the 2022 midterm elections, all such ideas are dead upon arrival in the new, Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the next two years.

Biden's renewed call for tougher gun violence prevention laws is not going down well with Republicans either.

There is talk of immigration reform, but the two parties have very different priorities on how to carry it out.

The issue has plagued all three of Biden's immediate predecessors, even in less partisan settings, so many advisers in both parties are pessimistic about the possibility of reaching a deal, even on a limited bill.

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And from the GOP's point of view, legislation passed by the House to repeal Biden-backed measures like additional IRS funding will not survive the Democratic-led Senate or Biden's veto pen.

Conservative goals on the border, education and a host of cultural issues will also be a hard sell without compromise.

Essential bills

The most important bill on the agenda concerns the debt ceiling, which Congress must extend before the June 5 deadline, according to the Treasury Department, to act or risk economic catastrophe.

So far, Biden and McCarthy are at an impasse: the president insists he's a non-negotiable and McCarthy, in his Monday debt-ceiling speech, again failed to offer specific spending cuts.

“Default on our debt is not an option,” McCarthy said.

“But neither is a future of higher taxes, higher interest rates and a broken economy for working Americans,” she added.

There is also government funding, which expires on September 30.

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Fitzpatrick identified several other “must-have pieces of legislation” that Congress will need to find resolution on: reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Section 702, which allows the US to spy. suspected terrorists abroad.

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The Senate Democratic adviser said farm policy, which affects farmers and producers, is another possibility, given the need to pass a farm bill, which could be related to competition in China and egg prices.

Some see the mandatory-pass bills as a vehicle to advance priorities, given the limited legislation that will move from the Capitol to the White House for enactment.

“I don't have high hopes that this will be a very productive Congress in terms of legislation,” the Democratic adviser said, adding that the next two years will be more important in terms of protecting and enforcing Biden's laws.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-02-07

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