The TAKE with Rick Klein There was a time when President Joe Biden led an ascendant and relatively united Democratic Party, driven by urgencies underscored by his predecessor, and hope that the pandemic would soon be history.
That time is decidedly not now. Biden’s domestic and voting-rights agenda are both now effectively stalled, all while progress against COVID slides backward and Democrats view the coming midterm election year with a combination of resignation and dread.
The White House chose to fight Sen. Joe Manchin’s fire with attacks of its own. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki accused Manchin of going back on his word to the president, and vowed to press him to “honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.”
The strategy aligns Biden with an incensed left. But it’s hard to see it changing Manchin’s mind, as Manchin, of course, represents the reddest state to send a Democrat to the Senate, and has hardly been inscrutable regarding his priorities, on spending, social policy or environmental policies.
Manchin is the one senator holding back Biden’s policies ,only because he’s joining all 50 Republicans in opposition. In some ways, that fact is more an indictment of Biden’s governing promises than having lost Manchin’s vote on “Build Back Better” or filibuster reform.
Biden has seen his own and his party’s priorities collide repeatedly with realities of math as well as public health this year. A new phase of his presidency is setting in — one that could make 2021 look like the good old days for Democrats.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
One question triggered a tense exchange between Vice President Kamala Harris and a radio shock jock.
“I want to know who the real president of this country is. Is it Joe Biden or Joe Manchin?” asked radio and television host Charlamagne tha God on his Comedy Central show “Tha God’s Honest Truth.” Harris then accused Charlamagne of engaging in election denial rhetoric and “talking like a Republican.”
But the real question, which was lost in the vice president’s visible fluster and her staff’s unsuccessful attempt to cut the interview short, went unanswered: Who has the upper hand when it comes to Biden’s agenda — Biden or Manchin? Comments on Sunday from Manchin pledging to block the passage of the “Build Back Better” social spending plan indicate that the answer isn’t Biden.
On Sunday, frustrated progressive lawmakers, who long warned of the risks of decoupling the bipartisan infrastructure plan and social spending plan, breathed a collective “I told you so.”
“This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in a tweet. “We cannot allow one lone senator from West Virginia to obstruct the president’s agenda, to obstruct the people’s agenda,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. “[Progressives] have been saying this for weeks that this would happen, and we took the hits. We were told that we were anti our caucus. We were anti-democracy, we were anti this and that, when actually what we were and what we still are is pro the people,” said Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo.
Continued intraparty divisions foreshadow the arduous path ahead for Democrats as they try to turn out voters in 2022. With a host of campaign promises still unfulfilled, the payoff for Democratic voters feels elusive, and progressives are sounding the alarm.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday touted his administration’s “unprecedented” move to build a state-funded border wall along the Texas-Mexico border, claiming the development of the structure is necessary due to federal inaction.
“Texas taxpayers are spending $3 billion dollars — that’s billions with a B — $3 billion dollars for Texas to do the federal government’s job to step up and secure the border,” Abbott said during a Fox News interview on Friday, adding that “a large portion of that money is going to build this border wall.”
For its part, the Biden administration has been fending off criticism for keeping in place two Trump-era rules, including Title 42, which is part of the U.S. public health code and allows for the expulsion of migrants without giving them a chance to apply for asylum within the United States. The administration is also utilizing the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, which requires those seeking asylum to stay in Mexico as their requests are processed in the U.S.
Immigration policy has become a central focus for Abbott as he seeks to fend off primary challengers throughout his reelection campaign. By overseeing this construction, the governor — who could also be a possible 2024 contender — could also use the state-funded wall as an example of being able to actually deliver on promises Donald Trump made as president.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Start Here on Monday morning begins with Sen. Joe Manchin’s rejection of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, potentially dooming the bill. ABC’s Karen Travers talks about Democrats’ next legislative priorities. Then, ABC’s Anne Flaherty discusses the issues with COVID testing before the holidays. And, ABC’s Josh Margolin reports on an alleged TikTok threat that shut down schools last week. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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