IT DOESN’T GET ANY EASIER: With his polls on handling Covid now slipping, President Biden faces a challenging week — as a key Democrat wavers and Donald Trump plans to re-emerge with a broadside on illegal immigration.
THIS DIFFICULT STRETCH for Biden actually began over the weekend, when West Virginia moderate Democrat Joe Manchin announced he would not support Biden’s nominee to become Director of the Office of Management and Budget (she’s too partisan, he said). The message was clear: Manchin will be an irritant for the entire Biden presidency.
AFTER SOLEMN REMEMBRANCES today for the half million people killed by Covid-19, Biden will almost certainly have to visit Texas, where there’s still a crisis over water supplies. Then Biden will spend most of the week defending his very expensive Covid relief bill — which has played a role in the dramatic rise in bond yields, which continues this morning.
THE REPUBLICAN ARGUMENT against the bill is summarized in a Wall Street Journal editorial this morning which claims that about $1 trillion of the $1.9 trillion Covid bill is a pork-filled blowout. The measure has solid public support and should pass, very narrowly, in the House by week’s end — but the Senate will be a tough slog next week.
NOT ONLY MANCHIN but Arizona moderate Krysten Sinema could vote against the measure if it contains a minimum wage hike. Biden may have to trim back this massive bill to something a little less than $1.9 trillion; Manchin will call the shots.
THE BIGGEST POLITICAL STORY of the week will come next Sunday, when Trump will re-emerge from Mar-a-Lago, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference. Insiders expect Trump to bash Biden over illegal immigration, which is surging at the Texas border and could become an albatross for the new president — and a dominant issue, once again, for Trump.
MEANWHILE, BIDEN’S POLLING NUMBERS on his handling of Covid have slipped a bit. His confusing policy on opening schools has only 42% support in a new Fox poll, and grumbling is rising in most states over the shortage of vaccines.
BIDEN’S OVERALL JOB RATING is solid, a little over 50% positive, but he needs a dramatic win on the Covid bill in the next two weeks. He may not get a single GOP vote for it in either the House or the Senate, as partisanism ramps up this week in Washington — and as anxiety grows in the fixed income markets over the size of his relief bill.
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