When he was sworn into office on 20th January, US President Joe Biden promised Americans he would heal a divided and wounded nation after four years of former US President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. Now as he approaches a month in office, is his call for unity falling on deaf ears?
With the coronavirus pandemic still sweeping through the United States, Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion dollar relief package called the “American Rescue Plan”, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks for eligible Americans, money for small businesses, and over $400 billion towards vaccinations.
Biden initially wanted to pass the bill with support from both Republicans and Democrats, despite Republican support not being needed as Democrats control all three branches of government. Republicans quickly shot down the bill, citing its hefty price tag, however, conservatives had no issues passing Trump’s $2.2 trillion bill when it benefited them.
Republicans wrote a letter to Biden, asking to meet with him about concerns they had with the bill. The President responded by meeting with eight Republican senators for nearly two hours but later said the meeting did little to change his mind about making any alterations to his proposed plan.
In that meeting, Republicans offered a counter proposal that cut Biden’s plan by a third, reducing the checks to Americans from $1,400 to $1,000 and cutting off unemployment benefits by the summer.
Still, Republicans have been vocal about objecting to the President’s bill. Now, Biden has begun to realize his calls for unity may just not be listened to with this group of Republicans, with the White House saying he may just have to pass the bill with Democrat support.
“I’m not gonna start my administration by breaking a promise to the American people.” Biden told Democrats in an Oval Office meeting last month.
So why are Republicans objecting to the bill? Is it really about the price tag?
The answer is more than likely, no. When it comes down to it, this is all a political game. Conservatives are focused on the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election, they don’t want to do anything to hurt their base or lose voters, despite how critical it may be.
Coronavirus has not impacted just Democrats, it has impacted every American regardless of which political party you support. Millions of Americans are out of work, kids are still not back in school, and the economy is suffering. If it seems like Republicans holding up a bill over political gain is trivial, it’s because it is.
Remember, this is just Biden’s first bill he is trying to get passed with bipartisan support. If Republicans are giving him this much trouble now, things don’t look promising down the line when he tries to pass more legislation.
So, while his heart was in the right place and he tried to unite the two parties, the truth of the matter is both sides may be too far apart to ever truly come together. President Biden knows now that his call for unity, while being the right thing for the country, is falling on deaf ears.
Words by Stephen Michael