WASHINGTON (AP) — The early ambitions of Joe Biden’s presidency are quickly running into the guardrails of archaic Senate rules, testing his willingness to remake an institution he reveres to fulfill many of the promises he has made to Americans.
It’s a wonky, Washington dilemma with real-world implications for millions of people, determining everything from the future of a minimum wage hike to voting access. It will also shape Biden’s ability to keep two restive wings of the Democratic Party united: swing state moderates wary of the appearance of effectively giving up on bipartisanship and more progressive Democrats who argue that Republicans aren’t coming along anyway.
Biden — who spent four decades as a senator and speaks of the institution with veneration, as well as some revisionist history about the good old days of cross-party cooperation — is so far trying to find the middle ground.
Liberal Democrats applauded his willingness to go it alone on a sprawling, $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan, embracing an option known as budget reconciliation that allows certain legislation to pass with a simple majority — in other words, without any Republican votes. But that pathway comes with limitations, including strict rules on what can and can’t be included in a bill.
On Thursday, the Senate’s parliamentarian decreed that a $15 minimum wage provision was out of bounds, prompting some Democrats to call on Biden to push the boundaries again and overrule her decision. The White House said that won’t happen, citing the president’s respect for “the Senate’s process.”
Ultimately, the COVID-19 relief bill was approved by the House by 219-212 early Saturday and will almost certainly pass Congress, even if some Democrats gripe about losing the minimum wage increase. But the road ahead for Biden only gets more treacherous given Democrats’ slim majorities in the House and the Senate and little sign of Republican interest in tackling climate change legislation, an immigration overhaul or election reforms. Those measures mostly fall outside the reconciliation rules, meaning Biden either needs to find a way to bring centrist GOP senators along or blow up what’s known as the filibuster, which would clear the way for all legislation to pass with 51 votes.
To some Democrats, taking that step amounts to accepting the reality of what Republicans are, and are not, willing to give Biden.
“Democrats made a lot of promises in winning the House, the Senate and the White House,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a progressive who has advocated for blasting through some long-standing congressional rules. “So we’re going to have to make a choice here. Are we going to stick to these rules, or are we actually going to use the levers of government to work for the people? To me, that’s not radical — that’s governing.”
Biden, who pitched himself to voters as a candidate who could overcome Washington’s hyperpartisanship, has so far suggested he’s inclined to play by the rules and court moderate Republicans who may be willing to work with him.
But the math gets tricky fast. With the Senate split 50-50, Biden would need 10 Republicans to join him to pass major legislation. Yet every move he might make to the center to win a GOP vote could put at risk the support of liberal senators.
Matt Bennett, the executive director of Third Way, a center-left think tank, said he sees some value in Biden gauging Republicans’ willingness to work with him during the early weeks of his administration. But without a significant crack in the GOP firewall, Bennett said keeping the filibuster in place will leave Biden with almost no chance of passing his legislative agenda before the 2022 midterm elections.
“If the filibuster remains, then he’s going to have to do what (former President Barack) Obama did for six years, which is use executive power to the extent he’s able and hope he’s able to get a better outcome in the midterms and a few more votes,” Bennett said.
Indeed, it’s the lessons of the Obama years that have shifted many Democrats’ views of the filibuster, including the former president himself. Obama started his tenure with an enviable 60-seat majority in the Senate, allowing him to pass a recession rescue package and health care overhaul without any Republicans or rule changes. But his majority dwindled after his first two years in office, as did his ability to pass major legislation.
Last year, Obama called the filibuster a “Jim Crow relic” and said that if it’s used to block voting rights legislation, it should be eliminated.
But there’s no clear consensus within the Democratic Party on the way forward. A pair of powerful moderate senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, are on record opposing filibuster reform. Others have yet to fully articulate a position.
Both parties have been chipping away at the filibuster for several years. In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, ended the filibuster for confirmation votes for executive branch and some judicial nominees. In 2017, with Republican Mitch McConnell in charge of the Senate, the GOP did away with the 60-vote requirement for Supreme Court nominees.
Many Democrats believe Biden will have to quickly confront the issue. Democrats will soon start pushing forward a sweeping election and ethics bill that is seen by many in the party as a counterweight to voting restrictions being pursued by Republicans at a state level. GOP lawmakers have panned the measure as a federal takeover of elections, and conservative groups have vowed to spend millions to fight it.
That could leave blowing up the filibuster as the only clear path for passage. Progressives argue that’s a far more palatable choice than explaining to voters, including many people of color who are fearful of new ballot access restrictions, that protecting a Senate procedure was more important than protecting their right to vote.
“This is going to require presidential leadership,” said Tre Easton, senior adviser at Battle Born Collective, a progressive group pushing to end the filibuster. “President Biden has a choice to make pretty early, probably earlier than he wanted, about how much he wants to push.”
Editor’s Note: Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for the AP since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
BERLIN (AP) — Pollina Dinner returned to school in Berlin for the first time this week after two months of lockdown. The 9-year-old third-grader was thrilled to see her classmates and teachers again but frets about the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on her life.
“I’m not afraid of the coronavirus, I’m afraid that everything will continue like this — that my school will close again, I won’t be able to see my friends, and that I can’t go to the movies with my family,” the girl said, fingering her blue medical mask and sighing deeply. “And wearing this mask is even worse than all the shops being closed.”
Psychiatrists, psychologists and pediatricians in Germany have voiced growing alarm that school closings, social restrictions and other precautions are magnifying the fear, disruption and stress of the pandemic among Germany’s 13.7 million children and teenagers, raising the prospect of a future mental health crisis.
“We don’t have any long-term studies yet, but there’s lots of anecdotal evidence of a crisis-driven rise in hospitalizations and overflowing psychologists’ practices,” Julia Asbrand, a professor of child and youth psychology at Berlin’s Humboldt University, told The Associated Press.
A recent survey by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf found that about one child in three is suffering from pandemic-related anxiety or depression or is exhibiting psychosomatic symptoms like headaches or stomach aches. Children from poorer and immigrant families are disproportionally affected, according to the survey.
Pollina, who immigrated from Russia with her family in 2019, worries about forgetting much of her German since she only speaks Russian at home. She’s one of 150 youngsters from underprivileged families who, before the pandemic. regularly spent time after school at a youth support program on the eastern outskirts of the German capital.
Arche — Ark in English — is based in Berlin’s Hellersdorf district, a neighborhood of drab concrete buildings constructed during the former Communist regime of East Germany. Some children are still allowed to come in person, but only once every two weeks. The rest of the time, the social workers and educators try to stay in touch through video chats while helping their young clients with remote learning.
“Many have completely withdrawn and don’t want to get out of their rooms anymore. They’ve gained a lot of weight, are playing online games nonstop and don’t have any more structure in their everyday lives,” Arche founder Bernd Siggelkow said.
The second major lockdown in Germany started before Christmas. Students in grades 1-3 were allowed to return to classrooms this week with reduced class sizes and limited lessons. The government hopes to ease further restrictions in coming weeks and has said that the re-opening of all schools is a top priority.
However, there’s concern the country is slipping into a third wave of infections due to more contagious variants of the virus. Virologists have repeatedly said it is still unclear to what extent the virus spreads from children attending school into homes and communities. More than 2 million people have contracted the virus in Germany and almost 70,000 have died of COVID-19, although only 10 under the age of 20, according to the country’s disease control center.
Even though children are not at as much risk of severe COVID-19 complications as older adults, they may be more vulnerable to the collateral mental health effects of the pandemic, according to experts.
An analysis by German health insurer DAK regarding youth psychological issues confirms the first-person observations of the staff at Arche.
The evaluation, which was obtained by German news agency dpa, showed that the number of children and teenagers hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in Berlin almost doubled during the first half of 2020, when schools were closed for over two months during the country’s first lockdown, compared with first six months of 2019.
The statistic underscores the psychological strain the pandemic is putting on young people but does not illustrate the scope of the problem, Christoph Correll, the director of child and youth psychiatry at Berlin’s Charite hospital, told dpa.
“Hospitalizations are the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Teenagers, especially girls, are more prone to eating disorders and self-harming, and many children’s psychological problems are going undetected while parents are overwhelmed and teachers, social workers and pediatricians don’t have regular contact with students, clients and patients, experts warn.
Psychology professor Asbrand worries that the mental health of children and teenagers has not gotten enough attention during the pandemic. Together with other professionals in the field, she wrote an open letter to the government this month to push for youth needs to get better addressed in the ongoing health crisis and prioritized when society reopens.
An immediate action government authorities could take to help mitigate possible problems would be to allow groups to gather for school and youth sports, in line with hygiene and distancing precautions.
“We all don’t know yet how this is going to develop long-term, but we must focus on youth mental health now,” she said.
While attending Arche this week for help with homework assigned online, 16-year-old Robin Reyer said not being able to hang out with friends has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic restrictions.
“I want to celebrate birthdays again, go out and play soccer with my friends in the park or meet them at Burger King,” he said while taking a break outside in the spring sun.
“Now, I’m only allowed to meet one friend at most,” he said. “That really sucks.”
The ideas and proposals behind the goals of the rhteroci to "defund the police" have actually been part of the Biden Agenda for Black Americans since 2019. Its sounds like we're saying don't pay the police out of spite. The facts are, the actualy proposals are what President Biden has called for: Making sure funding to weed out racism and bigotry, systemic and systematic practices that disproproportionately target unarmed, innocent Black Americans is prioritized; Making sure Medical and Mental Health professionals are on-site when someone is mentally ill, suffering from drug addiction; Making sure Drugs Addiction and Alcoholism leads to Rehab - not Prison for criminals; Fund the ensurance that White Teorrists & mass murderers are not treated with blatant favoritsm and taken into custody without a scratch, while 9-year old little girls are maced, and law-abiding non violent Black Americans are not gunned down while armed, violent White Americans are bought a hamburger and cuffed.
“And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings, Bear you on the breath of dawn, Make you to shine like the sun, And hold you in the palm of His Hand.”
And now, together — on eagle’s wings — we embark on the work that God and history have called upon us to do. With full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and in each other, with a love of country — and a thirst for justice — let us be the nation that we know we can be.
|Candidate Attributes||Voter Response|
More Honest & Trustworthy
Trump 35% Biden 51%
Better understands the problems of people like you
Trump 35% Biden 52%
Better Personality & Temperament for a President
Trump 33% Biden 59%
A Strong Leader
Trump 45% Biden 45%
Better idea of what America should stand for
Trump 40% Biden 50%
Represents your own personal values
Trump 38% Biden 53%
Would be better at Uniting Americans than Dividing
Trump 33% Biden 57%
While CNN was busy writing that Bernie Sanders would end the Biden campaign; that Bernie had it in-the-bag with South Carolinian voters and announced to the world that Joe Biden had "very bad news in South Carolina" coming his way - He obliterated the click-bait and sensationalism with 85% of Black American voters enthusiastically turning out in record numbers to speak for themselves just exactly who they wanted and what they thought about that.
In June 92% of Black Voters prefer Biden to Trump. As of August, recent polls show that number has actually grown to ~97%.
Let's look at the two main things we expect the down-and-dirty swamp creatures to attack with: The Crime Bill and Brady Ban. While many Americans may not be aware of this, for those of us that were growing up in Reagan and Present H.W. Bush's 12 years of Republic rule, crime, gangs, drugs and police violence was at an all-time high. The mob essentially ran the big cities in the late 70's and Reagan's years - and our streets were littered in trash, graffiti and broken glass. If you're too young to have lived through it, watch a throwback 80's movie and you'll get a cleaned-up glance at the reality of a society that had either extreme wealth or extreme poverty and nothing in between.
George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election in part by painting Dukakis as “soft on crime,” Democrats were acutely worried that Republicans were beating them on the issue.
Facts: Republicans had all the power - for more than a decade. With the public demanding action, something had to be done.
Facts: Joe Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act, and sponsored and passed the Brady Bill Ban. Neither of these would've ever existed without the Repulican Congress passing President Clinton's Crime Bill.
Facts: Bernie Sanders, icon of the progressive far-left, supported and voted for the 1994 crime law, too.Why did they vote for it?
There's a very simple explanation: The public wanted it. It was an attempt to address a big issue in America at the time: Crime, particularly violent crime, had been rising for decades, starting in the 1960s but continuing, on and off, through the 1990s (in part due to the crack cocaine epidemic).
Since we've addressed the Assault Weapons Ban and Clinton and The Democrats' efforts to combat the public opinon they were 'weak' on Crime, we'll assume these attacks will all center around the Economy. By all means, let's talk about Trump's Top-down Trickle-Down tax scam for the filthy rich. For those of us that were growing up in Reagan and Present H.W. Bush's 12 years of Republican Economics, our streets were littered in trash, graffiti, broken glass - and had either extreme wealth, or extreme poverty. Unless you were older and earned your money before Reagan took office, there was nothing in between.
Trump took office stepping into a thriving economy and the greatest economic recovery and longest strength of economic growrth in the history of the United States. Democrats did that. President Obama did that. Love him or not - President Bill Clinton built a thriving economy for The People, too. We had buckets of money, and wages were at the highest they had been in ages. There's nothing more Donald Trump-like than to take credit for someone else's work...unless it's taking it and not paying for it. He's bragged these last 3 years about record unemployment as if that should mean something to Black Americans. He's braggged about the stock market. Who is he talking to?
Wages did not go up. Having a JOB means nothing if it can't pay rent, basic needs like FOOD and utilities. Republicans hate welfare and food stamps - yet they do everything they can to keep wages as low as possible. They gift our taxes cuts to the filthy rich and largest corporations in the name of "creating jobs" that pay fractions of pennies to what they earn. But by all means, Black Americans, Working class Americans and more than 40% of ALL American workers - say "thank you" on November 3RD.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present
King of Great Britain President of The United States, Donald J Trump, is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to accept them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures - or profiting from his personal venues.
He has attacked Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing to submit to Laws establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. Military Soldiers have been placed in civilian land in a direct violation of The People and the United States Constitution.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States, specifically targeting Black Americans:
For cutting off Fair Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us while slashing taxes to the rich, without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For arresting peaceful, law-abiding Citizens to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing Federal Laws in a neighbouring State, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Rights, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures ratified by the Supreme Court, and declaring partisan State Leaders themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring tens of millions of us out un-American, relentlessly attacking and waging War both rhetorical and physical against us.
He has polluted our seas and lands, ravaged our coasts, poisoned and made uninhabitable our towns and ecology, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He has allowed Armies of foreign, Enemy Nation's Mercenaries to place bounties on the lives of our soldiers, compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our Police to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or allowed The People to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of known hate groups and domestic terrorists, who are known to believe and actively work to incite a race war, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
He has violated the Sacred lands of Native tribes to which these United States are indebted, allowed and in some cases encouraged the unlawful arrest of Native and other Citizens protected by The Constitution with no consequence.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. Peaceful Protest is met with violence; Legislature passed by The House of Representatives is ignored and not brought to vote. A self-imagined Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our President, White House Administration and their Party. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Rights, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in violation of our Principles and Law, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, The People of the united States of America, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of The People, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free from Rule, and that as Free People, guaranteed by The Constitution, they have full Power to dissent, address greivences, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent People may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.