Despite Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 presidential elections by filing an unprecedented number of lawsuits, Joe Biden emerged victorious at the end of the day.
It is now only a matter of time before he will assume the White House. While Joe Biden’s optimism to cooperate with the Republicans may seem a reasonable approach to many, he is bound to face severe challenges after January 20, 2021.
It is also pertinent to mention here that Biden cooperation with Republicans will be limited and may lead him to a dead-end tunnel.
Surely, Republicans will not help him in overturning the policies propagated by Donald Trump. As Trump is expected to run for the 2024 elections, his presence in American politics will be omnipresent in the upcoming years. So, pursuing the approach to make a compromise with Republicans will disappoint Biden in the long run.
Biden has to face severe challenges after his inauguration, including healing the nosediving economy, deteriorated healthcare, revoking Trump’s policies, and introducing the American narrative once again in the world.
All of this has to be done with the cooperation of the probable Republican-dominated Senate. While this is true that any cooperation with Republicans will backfire, the importance of the Senate can also not be nullified.
Suppose the Democrats fail to win both of the Senate seats in the Georgia runoff elections. In that case, President-elect Joe Biden and the incoming administration will face a massive roadblock in all of his potential policies.
How can Biden cooperate with the Republicans? What if he fails to get the support of the Republican-dominated Senate? Let’s seek answers to these most anticipated questions.
Importance of a Senate Majority for Democrats Amid Bipartisan Politics
The Senate has considerable power vested in it for legislation. Republicans currently dominate the Senate with 52 members on the bench.
The power show of the Senate was evident last year when, despite getting impeached, Republicans acquitted Trump. Had it not been about the Senate Republicans, Trump would have been the first president to be removed from office.
This example suggests the importance of the Senate majority in the United States. Similarly, pushing Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court also became possible for Republicans because of their Senate majority.
The Senate also plays a crucial role in approving all the policies, treaties, and presidential appointments, including the majority of the administration. Secretary of the State and Attorney General are two primary appointments that the Senate has to ratify in the upcoming administration.
The Democrats currently hold the House, but it is not enough unless they also attain a majority in the Senate. Controlling the executive branch and Congress would provide the incoming administration of the president-elect, Joe Biden, with a unified government for the first two years.
And Biden knows the importance of this. This is the only reason why he canvassed for the Georgia senate races himself.
The Attorney General’s confirmation is also unprecedentedly crucial in the aftermath of the Hunter Biden’s investigations.
The Senate Majority Leader also holds considerable power to block any policy action of nomination by the government. An example was seen in 2016, when the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, blocked the Obama Administration from nominating a Supreme Court justice by saying that the nomination belongs to the next incoming administration.
Will Republicans Put Personal Interest Aside to Cooperate with Biden?
There is no clear answer to this question at the moment because right now, there seems to be a mixed approach adopted by the Senate Republicans.
In such a scenario where Donald Trump is still reluctant to concede and accept Biden’s victory, it will be hard for them to vote against their leader. Since he has nowhere to go, his personal opinion will also influence the Republican’s ideology in the upcoming years.
President Trump was even reluctant to start the transition process. However, after the advancement from his Chief of Staff and other aides, he finally agreed to leave the office without conceding.
Considering the extreme policy approach which Republicans voted for in the previous four years, the possibility of Biden cooperation with Republicans seems to be an extremely difficult task.
Republican members of Congress even pursued putting roadblocks in Biden’s way by propagating the politicized version of the coronavirus stimulus package.
Most Senate Republicans did not even accept the election results. However, every cloud has a silver lining, as there is a slight chance that they will confirm Biden’s cabinet.
Some Senate Republicans, including Senator Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, signaled that they would confirm Biden’s picks.
For instance, Mitt Romney said,
“The president ought to be able to pick his or her Cabinet barring someone who is out of the mainstream of either party.”
However, these Senators voiced their personal opinions and may not necessarily reflect the party’s policy, which will be the final approach.
So, Biden cooperation with Republican Senators may become a truth despite less probability.
Thinking Outside the Box: Approaches Beyond Biden Cooperation with Republicans
Senate confirmation is going to be a tough job if the Democrats fail to win the Senate runoffs in January. President-elect Joe Biden should consider every option to get his nominees confirmed by the Senate. Only then can he smoothly run the government.
The Biden transition team is currently busy organizing cabinet nominees’ meetings with Congressional members so that the confirmation process could be as smooth as possible. However, it will not be enough as the situation can flip anytime.
The unethical option is following Trump’s footsteps in appointing acting officials. In this way, there will be no need for confirmation, and the nominees could serve in their positions.
This technique was a common habit during the last year of the Trump Administration, and many positions in the federal authorities were filled with acting officials this way. It could prove to be a helpful precedent in the case of a Senate Republican blockade.
It is pertinent to mention that Trump did this despite having a Republican Senate majority. This describes Donald Trump’s style of the authoritarian regime.
According to the Washington Post, President Barack Obama filled 22 percent of more than 500 Senate-confirmed positions with acting officials.
Another path on which President-elect Joe Biden can walk is to make the appointments while the Senate is in recess. If he nominates in this period, he will avoid a confirmation vote until the end of the following session of Congress.
This practice was also used by President Barack Obama to avoid delays in confirmation by Senate Republicans.
Although the recess appointments are authorized by the Constitution, they are generally used during the break between the two sessions of the Congress, which could sometimes last for several months.
The recess appointments were allowed by the framers of the Constitution to ensure that the critical appointments, such as National Security Advisor, Secretary of State, and Secretary of War, do not remain empty when the Senate is in recess. Many presidents have used this to avoid delays and blockades from the Senate, even during routine congressional vacations.
So, if Biden cooperation with Republicans fails, he can pursue one of these options to ease his suffering.
Presidential Executive Order: Biden Taking Legislation in his Own Hands
“The policy team, the transition policy teams, are focusing now very much on executive power…I expect that to be freely used in a Biden administration at this point if the Senate becomes a roadblock.”
The most powerful key that Biden holds to overcome Senate Republicans is the presidential executive power. These executive orders make the president the most powerful branch of the government.
The exercising of the executive power by Biden lies in the hand of the legislative branch itself. If the Republican Senate does not give him the needed support, he has to use executive power for the good of the country.
Article II of the Constitution grants the president executive powers to issue executive orders. Section 2 Article 2, written by the framers of the Constitution, allows the principal officer of the executive branch to tender advice to the president in the use of executive order.
Many presidents have used executive powers in the past to implement a new policy by avoiding Congress. Some of them, including George W. Bush, Franklin D Roosevelt, and Harry Truman, aroused controversies for the abuse of the executive branch. Roosevelt is credited with signing the highest number of executive orders in American history. The number of executive orders issued by President Roosevelt exceeded 3,700.
Most recently, Barack Obama and President Donald Trump also used such powers to avoid congressional delays. The number of executive orders issued by President Trump is 195 by mid-November.
President-elect Joe Biden promised to use this power to undo the damage done by Trump’s presidency. He is expected to rejoin the Paris agreement, lift curbs on immigration, and many other policies implemented by President Donald Trump using the executive powers.
The executive power will be the final weapon if Senate Republicans sabotage policy implementation by the Biden Administration. However, the Trump-stacked Supreme Court will try to block the use of the executive order by Joe Biden.
The executive branch allows Joe Biden to implement any policy without confirmation from the Senate or even the House. He can immediately retract Donald Trump’s policies related to the economy, immigration, and even the affordable health care act.
However, these executive powers will be of no use in making appointments to the federal institutions, as they are limited to the legislation only.
Instead of following the footprints of Donald Trump, Biden should pursue the approach of Harry Truman. He conducted much of the presidential business with executive orders as the Republican majority in the Senate would have never allowed him to run the affairs smoothly. So instead of using this constitutional power for evil purposes like Donald Trump, following the approach of Harry Truman to sign executive orders for the American interests should be the preferable option by Biden.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris may have won the presidency, but the new challenges awaiting them require preparation.
Republicans are all set to put roadblocks to push Democrats into a dead-end tunnel.
But Biden cooperation with Republicans may become a reality if Republicans manage to think outside of Trump’s driven ideology.
All energies of the Democrats should be focused on the Georgia runoffs so that they don’t get into this standstill in the first place.
Joe Biden should capitalize on Trump’s weaknesses right now, as Trump is focusing on corrupting election funding instead of using the funds for the campaign.
In case Democrats lose the Senate, they should pursue a friendship with tilted and less conservative Republicans like Mitt Romney. Only then, Biden cooperation with Republicans will be termed as a success, and he will be able to rule the country in a true sense.