The Senate Majority Chief is a made-up place. It’s not within the Structure, and even in the Senate rules: The facility of the Majority Chief relies solely on Senate norms and traditions. Since Republicans have determined these not concern them, then Democrats aren’t certain by them, both, which presents a serious opportunity for the Biden administration. Article I, Part three of the Structure clearly states that the vp shall be “President of the Senate,” however don’t have any vote except the votes are equally divided.
When the vp is just not presiding over the Senate, the Senate will select a president professional tempore to preside in her absence. Custom has junior members of the bulk occasion presiding, however the president of the Senate can take management anytime. If McConnell refuses to deliver up laws, or refuses to carry hearings or votes on Cupboard or judicial nominees, then Vice President Kamala Harris has the authorized authority to take management. She would then determine what comes up for a vote.
This might come in useful in a scenario the place, say, McConnell decides to go along with the Ted Cruz plan to dam all of Biden’s Cupboard nominees. Whereas the overwhelming majority of Republicans would again McConnell, sadly, not all of them would. A couple of, like Utah’s Mitt Romney, know that not having certified consultants in prime positions throughout a pandemic or a international coverage disaster is harmful. It is not usually within the Democrats’ nature to play this type of hardball, however we have a nation to restore—a nation everyone knows the GOP is now hellbent on destroying.
So far as appointments go, Biden has a whole lot of choices, as helpfully outlined by Washington Month-to-month. Obama paved the way in which for the appointment of practically limitless coverage czars, and Biden additionally has the power to nominate “performing” positions for greater than 1,200 company positions. (Trump managed to do it for different positions, as nicely.) Maybe most apparently, Biden can use the adjournment clause, in Article II, Part three of the Structure, to drive quite a few recess appointments. This method would merely require the speaker of the Home to suggest a prolonged adjournment, of which the Senate can both settle for or disagree. Nevertheless, if the Senate disagrees, the refusal would represent a “disagreement”—which suggests Biden will get to determine. This method has by no means been used, however once more, if the GOP goes to impede every little thing they’ll, Democrats higher be able to combat again—arduous.
So far as laws goes, if we lose the Senate, and may’t get one Republican to do the appropriate factor, there are many issues Biden can do by himself with out Congress. The one factor Donald Trump did nicely was present us all how a lot a president can get achieved with out Congress.
The chief department carries a whole lot of unilateral energy, which presidents have been more and more much less hesitant to make use of: Suppose govt orders, federal laws, and nationwide safety choice directives. Importantly, Biden has already promised on his first day to hit the ground running—with out ready for Congress. Right here’s a sampling of actions he may take.
COVID-19: Biden has promised to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by instantly appointing a “nationwide provide chain commander” and establishing a “pandemic testing board” upon assuming workplace. It is rather possible he gained’t be selecting his kids for any of these roles. Incoming White Home chief of workers Ron Klain coordinated the federal authorities’s response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which is nice, since Trump was eager on pushing out consultants. Biden will deliver the consultants again, and put scientists again in cost, as an alternative of political hacks. That is essential, because the CDC and FDA have suffered a lot underneath Trump. This new management will standardize steering and base it on info. Biden may and may reinstate the pandemic response staff that Trump dissolved, which might enhance the federal coordination within the combat in opposition to COVID-19. With new management, Biden may work with the CDC, and even the army, to develop a nationwide distribution community for the vaccines. He may use the powers of the Protection Manufacturing Act to fabricate provides and tools—which Trump didn’t wish to do.
Voter Suppression: Invoice Barr’s DOJ was under no circumstances enthusiastic about preventing voter suppression. You possibly can wager that whomever Biden picks gained’t have that challenge. Nevertheless, there’s one factor that Biden can do instantly that may be an enormous victory in opposition to the GOP’s battle on voting. All the level of Republican voter ID legal guidelines is to make voting inaccessible to 1000’s of poor voters. That’s as a result of voters of coloration are the least likely to have a driver’s license, provided that they’re extra more likely to reside in city areas which have enough public transportation, and unable to afford a automobile. Moreover, monitoring down the documentation to acquire a driver’s license could be time-consuming and costly. Different legitimate IDs, equivalent to passports, are even more durable to get. Nevertheless, giving folks the choice so as to add a photograph to their Social Safety card, which most individuals have anyway, may be certain that they’re not barred from voting within the pink states with strict voter ID necessities the place hid carry licenses are nice, however scholar IDs usually aren’t accepted. That is a simple directive with no congressional approval requirement.
Paris Climate Accord: Biden already said he’ll deliver the U.S. again into the Accord as one of many first orders of enterprise. This pact is an settlement amongst nations to cut back emissions. Biden doesn’t want the Senate to take action, as a result of the Accord is an govt settlement; Biden simply must ship a letter to the United Nations stating his intent to rejoin. Moreover, Biden can reverse the greater than 125 environmental guidelines that Donald Trump overturned by fiat, equivalent to guidelines on power effectivity, oil exploration, and use of biofuels. There are different accords and agreements that Biden can rejoin on his personal if he chooses to, however that is arguably crucial one.
Postal Banking System: North Dakota has a extremely popular public financial institution, however nowhere else within the U.S. does a government-run financial institution compete with non-public banking. Happily, President-elect Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders convened a activity drive to look into the creation of a public banking choice, arrange by the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Reserve, for low-income and middle-income households. Biden can set components of such a system up with none laws, equivalent to USPS launching their very own refillable, pay as you go debit playing cards.
Student Loans: Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer informed reporters that “President Biden can undo this debt—can forgive $50,000 of (scholar) debt—the primary day he turns into president. You do not want Congress. All you want is the flick of a pen.” Over 90% of the coed debt on this nation is owed to the federal authorities. Biden can both forgive or get rid of the curiosity. Scholar mortgage debt is the one debt that you would be able to’t discharge by chapter, thanks to a 2005 law. Academic debt is an enormous burden to thousands and thousands of people who find themselves at the moment paying a minimum of 10% of their earnings each month, and can for a minimum of a decade. Forgiving it might probably present much-needed aid throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overtime: The Trump Administration’s Division of Labor permits corporations to screw staff out of extra time, just by classifying staff as managers. Greenback Normal is the worst offender, however there are many others. Most definitely, the employees you see serving to you in these shops had been categorized as managers simply to allow them to be pressured to work further hours with out extra time pay. One ex-CEO of Greenback Normal confronted a minimum of 4 class-action lawsuits over wage theft. That CEO grew to become very wealthy exploiting this loophole. He is now an incumbent senator preventing to avoid wasting his seat in Georgia—Mr. David Perdue himself.
Immigration: Biden nonetheless must work with Congress on pathways to citizenship, however he can accomplish that a lot on this space with out the Senate. That is an space the place Trump was at his cruelest. Immigration on this nation has been just about shut down, and refugees had been restricted to solely 15,000 per 12 months. Biden has already promised to lift that by over eight instances the present quantity. He has additionally promised to arrange a activity drive to reunite these lacking kids misplaced underneath the Trump administration, and finish the child-caging that Trump will eternally be remembered for. Biden additionally vowed there can be no extra Dreamer deportations, Muslim bans, office raids, or youngster separations.
Affordable Care Act: Trump did every little thing he may to sabotage Obama’s signature achievement, however Biden can reverse a lot of the harm on his personal. He can prolong the enrollment interval, enhance commercial spending, and repeal the IRS rule that staff should settle for a well being care plan from their employer, irrespective of how unhealthy, if one is obtainable. Biden may assist states create their very own plans—one thing Trump was under no circumstances enthusiastic about—and lower prescription drug prices.
Cannabis: A Florida physician prescribed opium to a buddy of mine, who suffered tremendously within the hospital earlier than she died. Hashish would have been a greater drug, however that was not a risk. Such is the madness of preserving hashish a Schedule 1 drug, which suggests it’s categorized alongside heroin. There may be some disagreement between authorized students, however many, equivalent to a professor Sam Kamin of the College of Denver’s Sturm Faculty of Legislation, assert that the president-elect can unilaterally reschedule hashish by govt powers—he simply can’t deschedule it completely. Rescheduling would make issues simpler for marijuana companies, so for instance, they may a minimum of deduct enterprise bills with the IRS. Whereas Biden can’t deschedule hashish—making it authorized—on his personal, he may order his Well being and Human Providers to run checks on the medical worth of hashish, which might assist with descheduling down the highway. He may additionally order the DOJ to not give attention to prosecuting cannabis-related offenses.
Drug Prices: Two phrases: drug patents. The feds challenge drug patents to corporations, giving them unique rights to promote medicine for a number of years, at any worth, earlier than permitting generic variations to be manufactured. Biden has the choice of “march-in rights,” which means that if a drug is being bought at an outrageous worth level—which is extra widespread than it needs to be—the federal government can seize the patent and challenge it to generic producers, in change for these producers promoting that drug at an inexpensive price. Though this could assist the aged on fastened incomes essentially the most, it might additionally profit everybody. Republicans would scream, however who the hell cares?
There’s a lot extra, equivalent to restoring authorities unions, breaking apart monopolies, using municipal lending devices for higher entry to loans, and enacting Wall Avenue reform—simply to call a couple of. The purpose is that Joe Biden can do rather a lot on his personal, and if Georgia’s runoff goes sideways, he’d higher get able to do ‘em.
Republicans will complain about every little thing on this record, and whine that Biden is doing issues with out them. So what? The American folks not care what the reasons are for not getting issues achieved. Trump went as far as to redirect benchmarked funding towards his personal initiatives, and blatantly violate established legislation—such because the Hatch Act. He even disregarded court docket rulings, as with the Census and DACA. When Congress refused to present him the folks he needed for his Cupboard, he made them “performing within the position of” and dared anyone to do one thing about it.
Biden doesn’t need to go so far as breaking the legislation, however breaking from norms and traditions to get his agenda by? You’d higher consider it.