WASHINGTON – Democratic senators are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to use the executive branch to pursue goals such as combating climate change, easing student debt and creating a more progressive immigration system.
Senators’ appeals reflect the recognition that Democrat lawmakers may fail to pass a transformative legislative agenda after under-performing in Congress. And if the Democrats do not win two run-offs in the Georgian Senate on January 5, Biden will be the first president since 1989 to take office without his party controlling the two houses of Congress.
“The president-elect, starting Jan. 20, must act as aggressively as possible to reverse the effects of Donald Trump̵
He said Biden could re-enter the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement and set new fuel economy standards for vehicles and energy efficiency requirements for appliances. Markie said Biden should “test the external limits of his powers” through administrative action.
The impetus for executive action is also an attempt to urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Not to disprove Biden’s agenda by hanging the prospect of touring Congress, as President Donald Trump often did with Republican support.
“I think President Biden has significant executive power. And anyone who doubts that? Look at his predecessor,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Senator Brian Shatz, of Hawaii, who leads the 263-page Democratic Climate Action Report, said the president has “enormous power” on the issue, between international agreements and within agencies.
“From the treasury to the state to the interior (departments) and financial regulators, climate action and climate risk management must be invested in literally everything,” he said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., are urging Biden to use his powers under the Higher Education Act to cancel up to $ 50,000 in debt to federal borrowers.
Calls for the use of the executive come as McConnell maintains control of the Senate, at least for now, and this will be a contentious point with moderates such as Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who called on Biden to rule through bilateralism and consensus.
Even if Democrats take both seats in Georgia and take control of the Senate, McConnell will retain the power to pass legislation and impose a threshold of 60 votes. And an abridged majority in the Democratic parliament is cutting speaker Nancy Pelosi’s track to pass basic legislation.
Some Democrats fear a repeat of what happened in the previous administration.
“My concern is – we all know what happened to Barack Obama. Mitch McConnell came out of the gate right away and just said, ‘My big goal is not to let Barack Obama get a second term,'” Wyden said. “So, the question now is: Is he doing this for the same strategy?”
Biden “needs to look at executive action,” said Sen. Mazi Hirono, of Hawaii. “He will not allow the Senate and Mitch McConnell – if he still holds on – to stop what we need to do for our country.”
Hirono said that if Biden’s nominees were blocked by the Senate, he should take a page from Trump’s game book and unilaterally appoint them as temporary or active.
“We were watching Mitch. He’s ruthless,” she said. “And he’s obviously not interested in the impact of blocking everything on the country. He’s done it before.”
A McConnell spokesman did not return an email with a comment on Friday.
Jeff Hauser, a progressive strategist who runs the Revolving Doors project that scrutinizes cabinet appointees, said Biden should not wait for Congress to pass new laws, but look for existing laws to improve his agenda. He said climate regulation could be improved through the Clean Air Act of 1963 and corporate surpluses could be limited with the help of the Antitrust Act of 1890.
“You don’t have to pass new laws to solve problems. You can apply old laws,” Hauser said. “Our main message is that every agency and department should use the tools at its disposal to make a positive change, instead of waiting for some complex consistent game developed by the White House and Congress.”
Courts can be an obstacle for Biden. The Supreme Court’s new Conservative majority of 6-3 may have a more limited view of Biden’s executive power after Republicans replaced the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Conservative Amy Connie Barrett a week before the election.
Hauser urged Biden not to be “intimidated” by potential lawsuits, arguing that a judicial blockade of popular policies could be useful as an election campaign in the 2022 by-elections.
“Biden will have to be willing to lose from time to time to clear the stakes, instead of avoiding potential defeat at all costs, which was sometimes the leading mentality in the Obama years,” he said.
Jamal Brown, a spokesman for Biden’s transition team, said his agenda would include the executive branch.
“President-elect Biden is taking action to tackle the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and is implementing its day-to-day program, using both executive action and legislation to build a more resilient and sustainable economy, repairing our broken and unjust immigration system. , to ensure every American has a fair experience in the middle class and creates millions of well-paid jobs in the unions, “Brown said.