From the day Joe Biden stepped into the White House, his top priority was clear: Pass Covid relief. Ignore skirmishes elsewhere. Keep the message to Congress simple. And keep the message to the public even clearer: The current health and financial crisis would not go unanswered.
“Crisis creates urgency and they made the relief bill the singular focus of their agenda,” said Rahm Emanuel, who as President Obama’s chief of staff in 2009 ushered through a relief package after himself uttering his famous phrase about not letting a serious crisis “go to waste.” For the Biden team, Emanuel said, Covid relief was priorities “No. 1, 2 and 3 of their agenda.”
On Saturday, Biden’s keep-it-simple strategy paid off, after the Senate advanced his massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package, setting up a vote in the House and — shortly thereafter — the likely arrival of the bill to the president’s desk.
Just six weeks into his administration, the president was already telling Americans he had delivered on a signature promise.
“When I was elected, I said we were going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people, of making a difference in their lives, giving everyone a chance — a fighting chance, of showing the American people that their government can work for them,” Biden said in remarks shortly after the Senate vote. “Passing the American Rescue Plan will do that.”
Biden kept Democrats from splintering and barreled ahead without Republican support. He didn’t need them in the end, as the bill that passed the Senate only required a simple majority. But keeping his party in line was a feat itself. And in doing so, Biden managed to accomplish something that former presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton could not in early bills before Congress: hew closely to the original proposal without having to give much up in return. [Continue reading…]