Mon. Jan 17th, 2022
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If you were to ask some, they would say that the sky is falling on the Biden administration. With the pathway to Build Back Better now blocked due to Senator Joe Manchin’s decision to vote no, and the Voting Rights Act stalled in the U.S. Senate, President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda has been brought to a halt just months before the 2022 midterm election.

For President Biden, these challenges have been exacerbated by the headwinds of COVID-19 and what they have laid bare—inflation, slowdowns in the global supply chain and COVID-19 virus mutations.

KEVIN WALLING: HOW DEMOCRATS CAN ACTUALLY PASS BUILD BACK BETTER IN 2022

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., waits to speak during an event to mark one year since the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

Given all these challenges, the truth remains that the sky can only fall if you let it. That means President Biden and his team must do everything in their power to change America’s status quo, and the melancholy perception voters have of their administration so far.

Now before we get deeper into the challenges facing Biden, it is worth our time to uplift his accomplishments during his first year in office. Since putting his hand on the Biden Bible on the west front of the U.S. Capitol, President Biden and his team have cut childhood poverty throughout the country by 50 percent. Beyond that, they have signed into law an infrastructure bill that will modernize our roads, bridges and airports while eliminating lead from our aging water pipes and enhancing broadband access for rural and urban America. These accomplishments come on the heels of the U.S. Senate appointing to the federal bench more Black, brown and diversity judges chosen by Biden.

To the chagrin of those at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, these accomplishments have been drowned out by the significant challenges we face and the congressional gridlock that stopped Senate legislative action in its tracks.

Since the start of the Biden presidency, President Biden has laser-focused his time on finding solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the American people. Solutions that are overwhelmingly popular with voters require legislative action from an upper chamber that seems more interested in grandstanding on TV than actually doing work.

For years, the American people have been searching for ways to make prescription drugs more affordable for our senior citizens and the most vulnerable members of our community. This demand has sparked the creation of coupon programs like GoodRX when the proper solution lies at the feet of our lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

During that same period, working and middle-class families raised their voices for paid family leave and affordable child and eldercare. For many families that keep this country running, getting sick is a fireable offense, and early childcare costs about $16,000 a year on average. They, too, are looking to lawmakers in Washington, D.C. for real solutions.

While the Build Back Better Plan has solutions to many of the familiar problems facing the American people, the bill failed to get a single Republican vote or even unanimous agreement from Senate Democrats.

This dichotomy presents a clear opportunity for the Biden administration. Since the passage of the Build Back Better Plan, Voting Rights Act, and many other features of the Biden legislative agenda seem unlikely to pass the Congress, it is time for President Biden and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to call the vote!

Here is how the strategy would work. Instead of passing the entire package at once, Democratic leaders must split the larger bill into smaller pieces of legislation and force Republicans to vote them down on the floor—in front of the American people.

Even as they block solutions to these problems, GOP lawmakers continue to tell the American people that they support lowering the cost of prescription drugs, providing paid family leave and decreasing the burden of child and elder care on American families. By calling the vote, Schumer and his caucus would provide an opportunity for the American people to see the Republican gridlock up close and personal.

Doing so would also allow congressional Democrats to keep the pressing issues alive in the minds of the American voter while limiting the sting of defeat from a Build Back Better plan that failed to pass the Senate.

Now for some in the Democratic party, this might sound like a non-starter. But here is the truth: Senator Manchin, Senator Krysten Sinema, and others are unwilling to change the Filibuster rule or create the 50-vote majority to pass the plan via reconciliation; thus, there is no clear path to victory.

While Democrats need to deliver on something, they now should focus their attention on calling the vote, turning to executive orders and administrative actions to move forward what they can, and coupling that with making the midterms a referendum on Republican gridlock.

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During the Trump presidency, Ivanka Trump became the champion for paid family leave and more affordable childcare. While her methods were less than desirable, she, like Biden, had the same goal: making the lives of middle-class and working families just a little easier. Ivanka Trump’s support of these issues should force every voter to question where Republicans stand on the problems facing working-class families, especially with the spread of COVID-19.

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While the answer seems obvious, recording their votes gives Biden and legislative Democrats a small runway to make an electoral case to their base of voters composed of Black, brown, young, and working-class Americans bewildered by this pandemic and looking to Washington, D.C. to act swiftly. 

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