Biden Is Preparing To Give Executive Orders

( Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, collectively known as “Manchema,” have repeatedly blocked President Biden’s legislative agenda, forcing the president to rely on inherently less secure executive orders ahead of the midterm elections. The Manchema vetoes include:

Build It Back Better — Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan was reduced to $2 trillion after discussions with the White House, Manchin, Sinema, and congressional leaders. The bill included new federal benefits, climate-related spending, and EV tax credits. Manchin announced in December 2021 that he would vote against the spending package, while Sinema did not.

Federalized election rules — Democrats’ next legislative priority is a federal election overhaul. The Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act were proposed. Senate Republicans opposed nationalizing election rules, arguing that state legislatures have primary responsibility, subject to congressional override. The Democrats had to abandon the Senate filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass legislation, favoring a simple majority vote rule. Manchin and Sinema argued that eliminating the filibuster would silence the Senate’s minority party. Arizona Democrats criticized Sinema in January for voting against ending the filibuster.

Codifying abortion rights —Following the leak of a draft Supreme Court majority opinion overturning the non-existent constitutional right to abortion, Democrats began working on a bill to codify abortion rights at the federal level. The Women’s Health Protection Act was filibustered. Manchin and Sinema opposed eliminating the filibuster so that Senate Democrats couldn’t pass the bill. Manchin voted against the bill on Wednesday, while Sinema supported it. Manchin opposed abortion rights in February.

The White House said Biden is considering executive actions on a number of issues, including student debt cancellation, immigration reform, and police reform, with his agenda at a halt about six months before the midterm elections. On the other hand, executive orders are inherently insecure fallback options, vulnerable to both constitutional challenge and executive revocation by a White House successor.
Last Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that there is a range of executive actions they’re currently considering. One on police reform is in the works.

She said the president is certainly reviewing what steps he can take to address student debt. But, at the same time, they’re working to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act. They want to see what they can do on several issues where they believe there is bipartisan support. They’re also working closely with Democrats in Congress on a reconciliation package to help Americans save money.

The specifics of a potential reconciliation spending package are still unknown.