WASHINGTON – Democratic senators are urging President-elect Joe Biden to use executive power to advance goals such as tackling climate change, relieving student debt and creating a more progressive immigration system.
The calls from senators reflect a recognition that democratic lawmakers may not be able to pass a transforming legislative agenda after underperformance in congressional races. And unless Democrats win two Georgia Senate drains on Jan. 5, Biden will be the first president since 1989 to take office without his party controlling both chambers of Congress.
“The president-elect, who begins Jan. 20, should act as aggressively as possible to reverse the effects of Donald Trump̵
He said Biden could re-enter the United States in the Paris Agreement and beat new fuel economy standards on vehicles and energy efficiency requirements for appliances. Markey said Biden should “test the outer limits of his powers” through administrative action.
Pushing for executive action is also an attempt to push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., So as not to stone Wallen’s agenda by dangling the prospect of walking around Congress, as President Donald Trump often did with Republican support.
“I think President Biden has significant executive power. And anyone who is in doubt about that? Look at his predecessor,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Most recently Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who led a 263-page Democratic report on climate action, said the president has “enormous power” over the issue between international agreements and within agencies.
“From treasury to state to domestic (departments) and the financial regulators, climate action and climate risk management must be added to literally everything,” he said.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., have pushed for Biden to use his powers under the Higher Education Act to cancel up to $ 50,000 in debt to federal student loans.
The calls for the use of executive power come when McConnell maintains control of the Senate, at least for now, and it will be a point of contention with moderates like Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va. .
Although Democrats occupy both Georgia seats and take control of the Senate, McConnell would retain the power to legislate on legislation and force a 60-vote threshold. And the Democrats’ shrinking House majority shortens Nancy Pelosi’s runway to pass major legislation.
Some Democrats fear a repeat of what happened during the previous administration.
“My concern is – we all know what happened to Barack Obama. Mitch McConnell came right out of the gate and said straight: My big goal is to prevent Barack Obama from having another term,” Wyden said. “So the question is already: is he thinking this up to the same kind of strategy?”
Biden “should look at executive actions,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. “He will not let the Senate and Mitch McConnell – if he still perseveres – stop what we have to do for our country.”
Hirono said that if Biden’s nominees are blocked by the Senate, he should take a page from Trump’s playbook and unilaterally appoint them to temporary or acting capacity.
“We’ve seen Mitch. He’s ruthless,” she said. “And he apparently doesn’t care about the impact of blocking everything for the country. He’s done it before.”
A spokesman for McConnell did not return an email requesting comment on Friday.
Jeff Hauser, a progressive strategist who runs the revolving door project appointing cabinet nominees, said Biden should not wait for Congress to pass new laws, but look for existing laws to advance its agenda. He said climate legislation could be strengthened through the Clean Air Act of 1963 and that business transgressions could be curbed through the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.
“You do not necessarily have to pass new laws to solve problems. You can implement old laws,” Hauser said. “Our basic message is that every agency and department needs to use the statutory tools at their disposal to make positive changes instead of waiting for a complicated sequential game developed by the White House and Congress.”
The courts can be an obstacle for Biden. The Supreme Court’s new 6-3 Conservative majority may have a more limited view of the scope of Biden’s executive power after Republicans replaced late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Conservative Amy Coney Barrett a week before the election.
Hauser urged Biden not to be “intimidated” by potential court defeats, arguing that a judicial blockade of popular policies could be useful as a campaign issue in the 2022 midterm elections.
“Biden will have to be willing to lose occasionally to clarify efforts rather than avoid potential defeat at all costs, which at times was a leading mentality in the Obama years,” he said.
Jamal Brown, a spokesman for Biden’s transition team, said his agenda would include executive power.
“President-elect Biden is now taking steps to tackle the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and implement his Day 1 agenda using both executive action and legislation to build a more resilient and sustainable economy, redress our shattered and unjust immigration system, ensure every American has a fair shot into the middle class and creates millions of well-paid union jobs, ”Brown said.