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“President Biden hit a political wall this week in his push for voting rights legislation, just as he did last year in trying to pass his Build Back Better spending package,” Ignatius began his column on Thursday. “It’s time for Biden to ask himself why he’s in this morass.”
Ignatius told readers it “sticks in my craw” to quote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to whom he referred as a “wrecker in our national politics,” but said “he had it right” in his response to Biden’s speech when he said the Democrat was elected with a mandate to “bridge a divided country, lower the temperature, dial down the perpetual air of crisis in our politics.”
“Biden is failing in that mission,” Ignatius wrote. “Republican obstructionism is a big reason, but it’s not the only explanation. Biden has been losing his way politically. As he chases support from progressives in his own party, he has failed to craft versions of his social spending package and voting rights legislation that he could pass with fragile majorities. He’s been spinning his wheels.”
The Post columnist’s example of Biden’s “loss of momentum” was the failure to pass legislation to improve U.S. competitiveness in chipmaking and other technologies.
The bill received overwhelming support in the Senate, resulting in a 68-32 vote, but it “languished” in the House due to a rift between moderates and progressives.
“The larger question for Biden is whether there’s any space left for bipartisanship and conciliation,” Ignatius wrote. “Political divisions have worsened over the past year, and Republicans, led by McConnell, have rebuffed nearly all of his overtures. He had bigger ambitions, on social and political revitalization. But with such fragile Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Biden will struggle now to pass meaningful legislation.”
Ignatius acknowledged that Biden’s “frustration is understandable,” citing GOP obstruction, and that his administration “has been a good steward” between lowering unemployment, slashing child poverty and the vaccination rollout.
“Biden hasn’t delivered on uniting the country, but he has succeeded on many other things,” Ignatius wrote. “But successful presidencies carry a sense of political momentum, going from success to success. Sadly, President Biden has lost much of that forward drive. It’s time for a restart, with less shouting and more of Biden’s trademark common sense.”
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