10 enormously consequential things Biden can do without the Senate

Joe Biden can have a consequential presidency even with a Republican Senate.

 

By Dylan Matthews, Vox

Nov 19, 2020

 

President-elect Joe Biden looks like he will have to find a way to govern without a Democratic Senate to support him.

 

There is still a chance that Democrats will win a razor-thin Senate majority if they win both Georgia Senate runoffs on January 5. If they sweep the state, they’ll have 50 seats, and future Vice President Kamala Harris will be able to break the tie and make Chuck Schumer majority leader. But if Democrats lose one or both seats, they’ll be stuck with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And even in a scenario with a slim Democratic majority, they’ll have to rely on moderates like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who’s refused to eliminate the filibuster.

 

That puts Biden at a disadvantage in his first months in office, relative to the four presidents preceding him, who all had a federal trifecta (president, House, Senate) for at least some of their first year. But it doesn’t mean he’ll be powerless. In foreign affairs, for instance, he has a lot of room to maneuver, from rejoining the Paris climate accord to reengaging with Iran on nuclear issues.

 

On domestic policy — the focus of this piece — his powers are more limited. But “more limited” isn’t “nonexistent.” Existing laws give the president and his Cabinet a good deal of flexibility in proposing and implementing regulations. That flexibility could be used for some fairly sweeping policy changes, from forgiving student debt to shutting down coal plants.

 

Pushing the limits of executive authority is sure to provoke legal challenges that the Biden administration could lose, especially with a 6-3 Republican Supreme Court. But even if only half of the options below are implemented and affirmed by the courts, the practical effects would still be hugely significant.

 

The best work to date on the next Democratic president’s executive action options has been done by the American Prospect through its Day One Agenda project. Many of the below options are explicated in TAP’s package; I’ve added a few ones they left off as well, and have tried to give a set of options in cases (like financial regulation) where Biden has a huge range of possible policies.

 

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but the ideas below on 10 issue areas should give a taste of some of the options at his disposal and underscore an important point: that a Biden presidency without a Democratic Senate can still act aggressively to achieve his campaign promises.

 

Fight climate change ...

 

Forgive student debt ... 

 

Expand immigration ... 

 

Ease the ban on marijuana ... 

 

Reverse Trump’s rollback of air pollution and lead poisoning rules ... 

 

Cut back on factory farming ... 

 

Create a postal banking system ... 

 

Crack down on Wall Street ... 

 

Crack down on monopolies ... 

 

Expand access to health care ... 

 

more, including links 

https://www.vox.com/21557717/joe-biden-executive-order-student-debt-climate