Biden's agenda is struggling after a string of failures brought by Senate gridlock and a faltering COVID-19 strategy

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President Joe Biden leaves a meeting with the Senate Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

  • President Joe Biden is struggling to implement his agenda amid a string of recent setbacks.

  • The latest was on Thursday, Biden’s bid to defend voting rights and implement vaccine mandates suffered blows.

  • Some Democrats are pessimistic about their chances of retaining control of Congress after the November midterms.

President Joe Biden appears to be on a losing streak as he approaches the first anniversary of his inauguration.

In recent months his key domestic bills have stalled in Congress, COVID-19 cases have surged again, and inflation has soared — and his approval ratings are falling.

The latest blow to his agenda came on Thursday, when Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said she would not back a reform to the Senate’s filibuster rule — possibly ending Biden’s chances of passing a bill to defend voting rights.

Biden has spent significant political capital in seeking to push through voting-rights legislation, which he has characterised as a response to a bid by GOP-controlled state legislatures to subvert free elections. On Tuesday, he delivered an impassioned speech in support of voting rights, and on Thursday, he personally lobbied senators to back filibuster reform on Capitol Hill.

Yet it was not enough to sway neither Sinema nor Joe Manchin, two centrist Democrats in his party.

“I hope we can get this done. The honest to God answer is: I don’t know whether we can get this done,” said Biden Thursday, in a starkly honest assessment of the prospects of the bill.

The situation mirrored the fate of Biden’s other core domestic bill — the $2 trillion Build Back Better social care and climate change bill, which has stalled amid opposition from Manchin.

Also on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration’s push to mandate vaccines for employees of large companies.

The decision was met with jubilation by Republicans, with former President Donald Trump in a statement taking aim at his successor: “Biden promised to shut down the virus, not the economy but he has failed miserably on both—and mandates would have further destroyed the economy. We are proud of the Supreme Court for not backing down. No mandates!”

With the Omicron variant surging, hospitals struggling to cope with a new influx of patients, and US vaccination rates lagging behind those of other nations, the pandemic that Biden had pledged to get a grip on is far from over.

Biden has drawn criticism over his handling of the pandemic not just from Republicans who have rallied around opposition to his public-health mandates, but also from a group of experts who had advised Biden to reform his faltering COVID-19 strategy.

And there is more bad news on the economy, with US inflation reaching a near-40-year high, and supply-chain problems stalling deliveries and leading to empty shelves in grocery stores.

Colin Strother, a Democratic operative who has worked on House campaigns in Texas, offered a withering assessment of the situation in comments to Politico.

The Democratic Party in Washington DC, he said, had “underwhelmed, underachieved and undersold” it’s successes so far. “It has left our opponents emboldened, or supporters dejected and our prospects for 2022 dim if not dark. So we have a lot of work to do to dig out of this … We better have some golden fuckin’ shovels.”

The Biden administration has been keen to broadcast its success amid the recent string of failures.

At a press conference Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stressed the administration’s successes in passing November’s infrastructure bill — one of the biggest such bills ever passed — a strong jobs market, and slashing childhood poverty by 40%.

Biden is also still seeking to haggle out a compromise Build Back Better bill with Manchin, though the senator has remained intransigent in his opposition. A raft of new measures to tackle the pandemic is also being rolled out.

But with Democrats increasingly concerned about their party’s prospects in the 2022 midterms, when they believe they could lose their control of Congress to the Republicans, Biden’s window for turning things around is narrowing.

Read the original article on Business Insider