Joe Biden finally has his first real political victory. After months of haggling and wrangling, especially within its own Democratic Party, the House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday evening that would force the U.S. government to invest a huge amount in poor U.S. infrastructure. It was exactly the manna Biden needed.
Because last week was a week that set off all the alarm bells in the White House. Democratic candidates suffered major defeats in the local midterm elections. In particular, the loss of the governorship in the state of Virginia – where Biden consistently beat Republican Trump in the presidential race last year – has hit hard.
Paper-thin majorities and his own divided party
This defeat in itself is not disastrous for Biden’s agenda. But in the longer term, he will be seriously affected. The House and part of the Senate will be elected next year, and there is plenty of evidence that Democrats – who now control all of Congress – will lose their majority in both Houses. This would cripple Biden for the remainder of his presidential term.
And this when he is already struggling because of his very thin majorities and because of his own divided party. A handful of conservative Democrats could thus take the rest of the party hostage. Two opposing senators managed to cut a second trillion dollar bill in half – which should provide a much wider social safety net. This set of proposals is yet to be adopted by Congress in the next two weeks, but the question is what will be left of them.
Despite this, Biden will try to claim victory soon, just as he called the more than $ 1 trillion in infrastructure (part transportation, part utilities, part climate) a “monumental step for the nation.” .
More and more cynical and radical
And he must be able to convincingly claim his victories, thus convincing the voters. First of all so as not to lose any latitude next year, but also to prevent the country from falling into the hands of the current Republican Party. He is still under the decisive influence of Donald Trump – many Republicans still do not recognize his defeat in the previous election – and appears increasingly cynical and radical; even a transparent and fair course of events during the next presidential elections no longer seems guaranteed in some states.
Investing in infrastructure and the social safety net is popular among voters – Democrats and Republicans. Now it’s up to Democrats to exploit this popularity, for their own good and that of American democracy.
The comment This is Trouw’s opinion, expressed by members of the editorial board and editors.
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