Finance Minister Janet L. Yellen made a brief case for President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and claimed Thursday morning in a national television interview that it will be an economic lifeline for families, workers, teachers and health professionals.
“This is really an urgent need,” she told ABC News, “and we need to act big.”
Hours later, the novice Republican rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, from Georgia, live news coverage via cable as she spoke on the floor of the house. Before the House vote to revoke her committee duties, she tried to dismiss her previous statements deny the 9/11 terrorist attack and the school shooting, and attributes California forest fires to “space lasers” controlled by Jews. But she did not apologize, portraying herself as a victim of a liberal “culture of annulment.”
Her stance and embrace of conspiracy theories, many of them accelerated by extremists who support Trump stormed the US Capitol last month, has put her party on hold as its leadership struggles with how to move forward after losing the presidency and Congress.
The striking dichotomy between two parties – one eager to deliver a comprehensive legislative relief in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis, the other consumed by debates about conspiracy theories and loyalty to the bombastic former president – has become a crucial feature of the Biden administration’s first weeks. And it gives Biden a more enjoyable honeymoon than new presidents usually enjoy.
“It feels like there is nothing but an open road for Biden right now. Republicans are just circling the drain, ”said Jennifer Palmieri, a Democratic communications strategist and veteran of the Obama administration. “When you see them on TV right now, it’s fighting with each other. It seems that they have a lot to fix before they can make the organizational and ideological cohesion an effective opposition party. ”
Like the White House and Democrats focus on making the case a thorough response to the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, Republicans continue to be shaken by the kind of internal feuds that dominated the Trump presidency, focusing on intra-party struggles and purity tests, while mustering only marginal and uncoordinated responses to the administration’s top priority.
Although GOP lawmakers have complained about the size of the U.S. rescue plan, they have not launched a coherent campaign to hammer away at it, as they did just over a decade ago by rejecting the Obama administration’s actions as “the great government. and sowing seeds for public resistance by creating fears of a takeover of healthcare filled with “death panels”.
With the party’s populist wing too distracted to attack the president, a small group of politically focused GOP senators – at least for now – have allowed him to demonstrate an interest in two parties by engage in material political conversations with them.
Biden “seems to have an agenda that is sharply focused on what most Americans see as the most critical issues facing the country,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster in Washington. Ayres is concerned that the ongoing strife between the GOP’s populist wing and the party’s more governing elements will continue to hinder efforts to put pressure on the administration.
At the moment, Biden’s plan is widely popular, something administration assistants have pointed out to claim it has bipartisan public appeal, although support from congressional Republicans remains uncertain. According to a Quinnipiac University vote released Wednesday, 68% of Americans support the massive emergency plan. The president also saw his job approval rise to 61% in an Associated Press-NORC examination Thursday.
In the White House Friday Biden met with Democrats to plan the passage of the relief package through the house. The President then made remarks emphasizing its components, explaining why he prioritizes moving with speed rather than gaining the support of both parties.
He promised not to reduce the size of the $ 1,400 direct emergency checks in his package and sought to exert some political pressure on Republicans, arguing that “some in Congress believe we have already done enough to deal with the crisis.” That’s not what I see. I see tremendous pain in this country. ”
Republican lawmakers were largely silent in response, a pattern that has drawn frustration from some party strategists who say the GOP needs to mount more sustained, focused criticism at the administration level. Strategists say it would be easy to attack the plan, for example, by arguing that it includes too much funding for schools at the request of teachers’ unions, or that its minimum wage increase is poorly timed and will hurt struggling small businesses.
Instead of firing such gaps in Biden’s proposal, Republicans have engaged in a circular firing squad. Wednesday night, after minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) admonished Greene in a private meeting but chose not to punish her himself, he survived another challenge to his authority and presided over a ultimately unsuccessful vote at a controversial party conference meeting to dismiss Rep Liz Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her leadership position. Trump allies had tried to oust her from the party’s No. 3 job in the House because she voted to accuse the former president of his role in triggering the Jan. 6 mob siege of the Capitol in an attempt to overthrow Biden’s election.
Less than 24 hours later, the House voted 230 to 199 to remove Greene from its committee seats, with 11 Republicans breaking with McCarthy and joining the Democrats to send the controversial first-year message a message.
On Friday morning, Greene drew dozens of journalists to a press conference outside the Capitol, declaring that the GOP is Trump’s party and “does not belong to anyone else.”
“For the past four years, Republicans have been conditioned to spend more time fighting each other than to fight the actual democratic policies,” said Rory Cooper, a GOP strategist who is frustrated that the party has not traveled more sustainably. criticism of Biden’s proposal. “President Trump was typically most obsessed with Republicans who were not submissive enough to him, so there is still some of the PTSD that forgets what it is like to be a minority party and how to oppose a democratic agenda while offering their own solutions. ”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), One of the legislators who spoiled Trump’s denial of the election result and the false allegations of voter fraud that encouraged the mob have been rewarded with almost nightly appearances on Fox News for angering the “cancellation of culture.”
Other Republican lawmakers appearing in prime time have largely avoided attacking Biden or the Coronavirus Aid Proposal. Instead, they have filled well-known critiques of cultural lightning rods like the Democratic rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York.
“I do not think many Republicans accept this package, but they are so consumed by the world they have now created by conspiracy theories and extremist issues, they are not even a place where they can focus on their opposition to the president,” he said. Julian E. Zelizer, whose book “Burning Down the House” describes the emergence of the modern GOP.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Whose militant loyalty to Trump has given him a political fame that few back-benchers enjoy, flew to Wyoming last week to rally opposition to Cheney. Despite the lack of effort to remove her, Gaetz and rep stand. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to reap rewards for pushing the issue: TV invitations, Twitter followers and online contributions from the former president’s base.
“The incentive structure is wrong for members to push a truly conservative agenda forward, and that is not changing,” said GOP strategist Cooper. “And we are now electing members of Congress who fit into the terrible incentive structure rather than members who can change it. That’s why we have Marjorie Taylor Greene. ”
By and large, however, what is good for individual GOP legislators in safe districts can take a toll on the party. Only 26% of the country approves of congressional Republicans, while 64% reject, according to Quinnipiac vote this week.
Since fractionalism has brought the House GOP conference, a group of 10 moderate Republican senators have engaged the White House in political discussions and sought areas of potential compromise when the legislative process begins.
The group expressed optimism about future talks after leaving an Oval Office meeting with Biden on Monday. They avoided criticism, even as the administration stressed the president did not jump on Republican requests to reduce the size of the package.
On Thursday, one of the ten, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), offered a revision of an element of the administration’s bill, a proposed tax deduction for children. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain responded tweeting that he “really looked forward to seeing what @SenatorRomney will propose here,” and called outreach “an encouraging sign that bipartisan action to reduce child poverty is possible.”
Although this potential development was overshadowed by the House vote to deprive Greene of her committee duties, the bipartisan talks may be as beneficial to Biden as the more rigorous voices on the right that focus their ire elsewhere.
“The ability to post against the more extreme [Republican] voices are helpful. But what is most useful for Biden is that he has gone beyond the bipartisan optics and has actually had meetings with the 10 Republicans and continues to have open communication, “said Kevin Madden, a communications consultant who was a spokesman for the GOP’s former House majority. .
Biden has “in practice presented the promise of bipartisanship”, said Madden. “That’s what helps him the most.”
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