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President Biden suffered several major losses in the first two weeks of the new year, including major initiatives on vaccine mandates and election laws, as the administration struggles to unite its party and achieve its goals in the interim election year.
Two big blows to the White House this year came Thursday – one in the hands of two Democratic senators and the other in the Supreme Court.
Sen. To explain his opposition to Senate filibuster changes in favor. Kirsten Cinema, D-Ariz., Went to the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, essentially killing the Democrats’ plan to pass two major election bills.
“Today marks the longest time in history that divided the Senate equally,” Cinema said Thursday. “The House of Representatives is also roughly divided. Our mandate, it seems clear to me, [is] Work together and work for America. “
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Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., released a statement saying essentially the same thing Thursday.
That story could have dominated the news cycle for several days. It lasted only a few hours before the next batch of bad news for the Biden administration: the Supreme Court blocked the president’s vaccine order for large private employers.
The The court ruled The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have the authority to impose such an order because the law that created OSHA “authorizes the Secretary to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.”
The Supreme Court has allowed health workers to go ahead with the administration’s vaccine mandate. But the OSHA mandate on big businesses reached more Americans. The ruling means that while legal challenges in lower courts will probably continue for months, the administration may not be able to enforce that order.
The twin losses on two key issues came just hours after the White House was already pushing for a new year.
Massive inflation figures announced on Wednesday made Democrats more likely to defend their massive reconciliation spending bill, which Manchin announced last month that he would oppose on “LBL Sunday.” That was the president’s biggest domestic legislative priority and now it’s dead.
Meanwhile, the White House is still struggling to make instant COVID-19 tests available to all Americans by mail – White House press secretary Jen Psaki initially mocked before the holidays – after a shortage of tests over the holidays. Vice President Kamala Harris struggled to explain the specifics in an interview Tuesday NBC News.
NBC’s Craig Melvin Harris asked when the White House’s 500 million tests would be available to Americans. Harris responded that he would “leave soon.” Melvin asked if the White House should order tests sooner.
“We’re doing it,” Harris said.
“But should we do it sooner?” Melvin asked again.
“We’re doing it,” Harris replied.
Harris doubled down on how the White House is dealing with the epidemic, as the White House said in a letter last week to a handful of former administration health officials.
“It’s time to do what we’re doing, and that time is every day. It’s time we acknowledge that we have the materials and tools available to slow this thing down,” he said.
The time we do what we do and that time is on a daily basis. Every day we accept that there are things and tools available to us to slow this thing down
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Surveys show that Biden’s approval ratings are underwater, with Democrats at risk of losing their grip on the House and Senate. It effectively shut down any program that Biden could hope to implement for the remainder of its first term.
Democratic candidates are already trying to put some space between themselves and the president. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams did not appear with Biden when she went to Georgia to stump up for election bills this week – even though that was her signature issue.
The White House knows that things are not going well. Following Cinema’s remarks on Thursday, Biden himself expressed serious doubts that the Democrats would be able to pass their election bills.
“I think we can do it. I don’t know the honest answer to God.
Even the White House’s official reading of the Manchin-Cinema meeting Thursday night indicated no progress.
“The president hosted Senator Manchin and Senator Cinema at the White House tonight for an honest and respectful exchange of views on voting rights,” a White House official said.
A reporter asked Pasaki on Thursday about the loss of the White House cascading so far this year, saying that “it looks like they are going very poorly” and that the president has “staggered on an astonishing number of fronts.”
Psaki responded by highlighting job growth as the US recovers from its 2020 pandemic doldrums and most Americans are now vaccinated. And the White House does not regret taking on its own functions, even if many of them are not done properly.
“Our goal is to do the hardest things, try the hardest things and keep it going,” he said. “Having worked in the White House in the past, I think you work hard in the White House. You have every challenge at your feet – put it on your feet, be it global or domestic. And we can certainly propose legislation to see if people support bunny rabbits and ice cream, But that doesn’t make the American people more profitable. “
LBL’s Sarah Tobiansky, Brandon Gillespie, Ron Blitzer, Carolyn McKee and Bill Myers contributed to this report.