Biden will call for fresh bipartisan action at State of the Union but faces big challenges in a divided Congress


WASHINGTON — In his State of the Union address Tuesday. President Joe Biden will tout his accomplishments and issue a new. call for bipartisan legislation in a divided Congress.

Behind him will sit new Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California.

A Republican who leads a fragmented and conservative House. Majority with the power to greenlight or thwart Biden’s best-laid plans.

A White House official said Biden would tout. “Transformational” new laws signed in the past. Two years and call for continuing that progress “working together in the year ahead.”

“Underlying all this, the president will once again extend his faith that Democrats. And Republicans can work together, as they have done over. The past two years, and that he is committed to this new Congress to do great. Things for the American people,” the White House official said. who was not authorized to speak about the content of Biden’s speech.

The speech highlighted a challenge for Biden. Conveying what can pass in the Republican. -Controlled House and Democratic-led Senate — and creating a fertile environment for that.

The legislative agenda for the next two years is divided into three categories. Viable areas for common ground. Ambitious pursuits where parties are likely far from reaching consensus. And items that must pass to avoid a government shutdown or economic crisis. .

Opportunities for agreement

When asked where they could find common ground. The most common word lawmakers answered was: China.

The issue escalated after the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US coastline. House Republicans have formed a select committee on US-China relations. Chair, rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. And the top Democrat, Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, D-Ill., both called for a consensus. Approach to countering China’s rise. But it remains to be seen whether the issue will create. Bipartisan legislation or become a political football.

A senior House Republican aide said there may be limited scope for cooperation on energy as well. Noting that the House earlier this year passed legislation to curb the use of the Strategic. Petroleum Reserve. A Senate GOP aide said another effort could be to overhaul permitting. Requirements for energy and infrastructure projects.

A Senate Democratic aide added bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the list.

“A lot of people have a lot of egg on their faces and the ideological line on crypto is not that strong.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem. Solving Caucus, cited three areas where he sees openings for legislative action. “Mental health and addiction. Trade with China. Semiconductors and artificial intelligence.”

His Democratic co-chair, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., said the possibilities. Include opioid addiction, mental health and building on domestic manufacturing. And competition laws in China that passed last year with “Chips 2.0.” He said there are “a raft of common sense problems” that present opportunities.

But others are more pessimistic. Asked what the chances are for common ground, a House GOP aide replied: “Not much.” The aide mentions embracing China and addressing the fentanyl crisis.

Issues that face long odds

The list of issues making cooperation unlikely is long, as the 15 ballots. It took for McCarthy to become speaker were on full display. Because of the strong conservative leanings of the new GOP majority.

It begins with what remains of Biden’s ambitious agenda in his first two years. — The economic and safety net items of his Build Back Better package. That were left on the cutting room floor due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin. D-W.V. These include issues such as child care, paid leave. Cash payments to families and programs to phase out fossil fuels.

Biden and all Democrats want to raise taxes on corporations. And high earners to bring in more revenue, but many. Of those proposals were shot down last year by Sen. Kirsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

Even if Democrats pick up the 51st Senate seat in the 2022 midterm elections.

Those ideas are all but dead after the arrival of a new Republican-controlled House in the next two years.

Biden’s renewed call for tougher gun violence. Prevention laws is also going down with Republicans.

There is some chatter about an immigration overhaul. But the two sides have different priorities for how to go about it. The issue has bedeviled Biden’s three immediate predecessors. And even in a less partisan environment, many allies in both. Parties are pessimistic about reaching an agreement on even a limited bill.

And from the GOP’s perspective, House-passed legislation to repeal. Biden-backed measures such as more IRS funding would not survive the Democratic. -Led Senate or Biden’s veto pen. Conservative goals on the border. Education and many cultural issues will also be a hard sell without compromise.

Must-pass bills

The biggest pass-through bill on the agenda includes the debt. Ceiling, which Congress must extend by a June 5 deadline or risk. Cconomic disaster, according to the Treasury Department. So far, Biden and McCarthy remain at an impasse. — With the president insisting it’s not negotiable and McCarthy. Again having no specific spending cuts in his speech about the debt ceiling on Monday.

“Defaulting our debt is not an option,” McCarthy said. “But higher taxes, higher interest rates. And an economy that doesn’t work for working Americans is not a future.”

There is also government funding, which expires on September 30.

Fitzpatrick identified several other “imperative pieces of legislation.

” That Congress must find a resolution on: reauthorizing the Federal Aviation. Administration, as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Section 702. Which allows the United States to spy on suspected terrorists abroad. .

A Senate Democratic aide said farm policy involving farmers. And producers is another opening due to the need to pass a farm bill. Which could be linked to competition from China and egg prices.

Some consider the limited legislation. That would move from Capitol Hill to the White House. For legislation to pass the bill as a vehicle for advancing priorities. “I’m not very optimistic that this will be a very productive Congress legislation.” Said a Democratic aide.

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