There seems to be a pretend White House and a pretend House and Senate, all three supposedly promoting big legislative action leading to profound change in American life.

“Pretend” because while the White House is factually controlled by the President, its major policy initiatives are crashing on the rocks of “majorities” in the House and Senate that have the power only to organize with a Democratic speaker, a Democratic majority leader and Democratic committee chairs.

Add the fact that the speaker and the majority leader control the schedules in their respective chambers, and that’s about it. Getting something on the floor that loses is not in any sense a victory.

After the massive covid relief bill that passed because of the in terrorem atmosphere of illness, death and economic ruin, nothing is happening. And with just one remaining opportunity to use budget reconciliation requiring just fifty Senate votes, probably to enact infrastructure spending, nothing else will happen.

Let’s look at the sorry state of the Biden agenda in just a few instances.

Voting legislation. As many states including Texas, Georgia and Florida plan to suppress voters through measures restricting voting times, mail-in votes and enabling persons outside the administrative election structures to undo election results, democrats have been trumpeting HR 1, the For the People Act, a comprehensive legislative package to strengthen voter rights. This will not pass in the Senate.

There is a fair chance that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that would restore and strengthen part of the  Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down by the Supreme Court can pass.

A ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  D.O.A.

Police reform. Not happening. The biggest issue appears to be whether limited immunity for individual police officers will be scrapped in favor of liability of the police departments that employ them. This proposal would help aggrieved plaintiffs because they would have a deep pocket to sue instead of a poor cop. District attorneys, however, could not prosecute an immune police officer. Progressives will not give up convicting bad cops just because their victims could recover damages.

Immigration reform. D.O.A.

Abolition or modification of the filibuster. The White House’s official position is that Biden opposes abolition. That’s because he can’t get it. Meanwhile, majority leader Charles E. Schumer continues to say “everything is on the table.” Tell that to Sen. Joe Manchin.

Infrastructure. The gavotte between Biden and Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito continues at this writing. They are trying to get to a  bipartisan deal with the top line number and the “pay fors” in contention. It is unlikely that they will agree, so infrastructure legislation is going to budget reconciliation.

There is a $ 547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill in the House that Speaker Pelosi supports that the Republicans oppose, natch. If it passes, it’s probably nowheresville in the Senate.

Gun legislation. Not happening.


There is an area where the President can act without Congress: foreign affairs. This week and through part of next, Biden will attend a G7 meeting, a NATO summit, and meet with Putin. The Vice President is now in Guatemala dealing with migration issues.

The sorry state of the Biden agenda portends what will effectively be a two-year presidency. Although only fifty or so House seats will actually be in serious contention because the rest are so gerrymandered that the results are a foregone conclusion, it is historically likely that the House will go Republican.

Because not gerrymandered, the Senate may remain Democratic.

As the 2022 election looms, I do not see any way that the parties will cooperate. Sad.