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In the Supreme Court and in the Senate, Joe Biden records setbacks

There are days when nothing works for President Joe Biden. The 46e President of the United States thus saw, Thursday, January 13, the Supreme Court blocking the vaccination obligation which he intended to impose on companies with more than one hundred employees. And the electoral reform he supports is threatened in the Senate, torpedoed earlier in the day by an elected Democrat.

In the middle of the afternoon, in a first decision, the Supreme Court blocked the decision of the 46e president to impose the vaccine against Covid-19 in companies with more than one hundred employees. On the other hand, in a second decision, it validated the vaccination obligation for employees of health structures which benefit from federal funds.

After months of trying to convince the reluctant, Joe Biden announced in September his desire to make vaccination compulsory for several categories of employees. This measure was immediately denounced as an abuse of power by elected Republican officials and by part of the economic world.

The Supreme Court ruled in their favor, at least with regard to the approximately 84 million people employed in companies with more than 100 employees. The administration gave them « Ordered to be vaccinated against Covid or to undergo tests every week, at their own expense. It is not the daily exercise of federal power, but an intrusion into the life and health of a large number of employees ”, she wrote in her judgment.

The decision was taken with a majority of six out of nine magistrates, all conservatives, with the court’s three progressive judges voicing their opposition. The latter, on the other hand, received the support of two of their conservative colleagues to save the vaccine obligation in health centers, which concerns about 20 million people.

Joe Biden has made the fight against the pandemic one of his priorities but is facing an outbreak of contamination by the Omicron variant. The United States, where only 62% of the population is fully vaccinated due to very marked political divisions on the issue, has so far recorded more than 845,000 deaths.

US President Joe Biden released a statement after the Supreme Court ruling: « I am disappointed that the Supreme Court chose to block a common sense request, which could save lives », corn « I will continue to use my presidential platform to call on employers to do what it takes to protect the health of Americans and the economy », he wrote.

Risk of failure in the Senate

The president also risks seeing the failure of a vast electoral reform protecting African-Americans’ access to the vote. Joe Biden has promised to protect minority access to ballot boxes and the transparency of voting operations, in the face of a multitude of reforms undertaken by conservative states, especially in the south of the country. It is for this reason that he joined, on Thursday, the elected Democrats in the Senate, to rally them around his project.

But even before he left the White House, Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema rose to the podium and, for the moment, dashed all hope of passing this legislation presented as the heir to the greats. struggles for civil rights in the 1960s.

The elected, a centrist Democrat, is not against the legislation itself. But she opposes the parliamentary procedure imagined by the Democratic staff and the White House to break the barrier of the Republican opposition. Without his voice, in a Senate where the Democratic camp has 51 votes, and Republicans 50, the project is doomed.

To pass this law to the Senate, in theory 60 votes would be needed, to comply with a very entrenched parliamentary practice. This ““ Filibuster ”rule”, supposed to encourage moderation and dialogue across partisan lines, gives enormous blocking power to the opposition, especially when the parliamentary balance of power is as tense as it is today.

The Democrats have only one solution to save their electoral reform: to break this parliamentary practice and to pass in force to the simple majority. It is this passage in force that Kyrsten Sinema does not want. It would only fuel the « Infernal spiral of division », estimated the elected, in an extremely solemn intervention.

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Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin

Since his inauguration or almost, Joe Biden regularly stumbles on Kyrsten Sinema and another Democratic senator, Joe Manchin. These two moderates are skeptical of the big projects of the Democratic president, which they consider too interventionist, too expensive, too centralized, too ideological.

In December, Joe Biden found himself in exactly the same position as today: having to mobilize without exception all the votes of his majority in the Senate around a very ambitious program of social spending. After interminable discussions, it was Joe Manchin, alone, who made this $ 1,750 billion project fail shortly before Christmas.

The only way out now for Joe Biden would be to convince certain elected Republicans to follow him on electoral reform. But that seems illusory, so much the Conservatives are upset, both against the content of the law and against the parliamentary method. Their Senate leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday accused the president of going down a path « Scandalous and which divides ».

Another setback would be extremely difficult for Joe Biden, already very unpopular, and who may well lose control of Congress completely after the midterm elections in the fall.

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