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Senate gridlock could limit Biden’s damage

Naomi Lim of the Washington Examiner focuses on the U.S. Senate’s ability to block the worst parts of a Biden administration agenda.

President-elect Joe Biden hoped to model his administration on Franklin Roosevelt’s, pushing through New Deal-esque legislation and signing a raft of executive orders during his first 100 days in office.

But then, Democrats failed to flip the Senate, at least so far.

Depending on the two Jan. 5 Georgia runoffs, Biden’s agenda could be blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a GOP-controlled chamber.

While conservatives will rejoice, having feared an onslaught of liberal bills and regulations, far-left Democrats will have the opposite reaction.

Biden bragged about his broad coalition that helped him win the Nov. 3 election. But his spectrum of supporters, ranging from far-left activists to disaffected Republicans, won’t make it easy for him to govern. With diverse policy interests and priorities, he’ll no longer have an anti-President Trump sentiment to bind them all together.

Bill Dauster, a chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, agreed the liberal Democratic agenda hinges on the Georgia races. Otherwise, the Senate will remain a place where good ideas go to die, he said.

“Legislation like strengthening voting rights, expanding healthcare coverage, combating climate change, gun background checks, raising the minimum wage, universal pre-K, campaign finance reform, paid family leave, D.C. statehood, protecting workplace democracy and unions, and police reform will stand little chance if Sen. McConnell continues to lead the Senate,” Dauster told the Washington Examiner.

But Dauster, a Senate, White House, and campaign veteran, believed liberal Democrats understood the predicament. Instead, they’ll pressure Biden to act via executive fiat, a strategy he maligned as a presidential candidate and nominee, and administrative rule-making.

“Some progressives will want to try to shame Republicans into addressing some of the larger social issues facing our country legislatively, but I don’t expect that they’ll succeed,” he said.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...