Perhaps more than any recent president, Mr. Biden has staked his reputation and the fortunes of his administration on his ability to work with a polarized Congress where Democrats have only the narrowest margins of control. Despite the recent history of legislative inertia and toxic politics, Mr Biden has made it clear that he believes he can use his 36 years of experience and connections on Capitol Hill to work on the other side. off the aisle and make the breakthroughs necessary to get the nation through its multiple crises – that “rare and difficult hour,” as he put it.
He immediately set about trying to strengthen his ties with Republicans, inviting Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who waited a month to recognize him as president, and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the most top House Republican who supported the overthrow of his victory, to attend mass with him Wednesday morning before the inauguration.
Mr McConnell, in a lighter moment after the inauguration that recalled the Washington club circles in which the president has long been at home, claimed that Mr Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were “sons. and daughter ”of the Senate because of their service there, while ironically pointing out that neither had ever been a member of the House, House Senators love to mock as a humble body. Ms Harris received a bipartisan standing ovation in the Senate when she first stepped into the presidency following her swearing in as vice president.
In his speech, Biden also reminded members of the House and Senate in attendance that he was one of them.
“Listen, folks,” he said, using one of his favorite expressions, “all my colleagues that I have served with in the House and the Senate here – we all understand the world is watching, is watching us all today.
But it will take more than flashback and the good nature of Mr. Biden to break the lingering deadlock in Congress. Already, Republicans are increasingly challenging his cabinet candidates, and Mr Biden has almost become the first president since at least Jimmy Carter to fail to secure confirmation of a cabinet candidate in his early hours. function. At the last minute, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas dropped his objection to April D. Haines confirming his role as director of national intelligence. Yet candidates for other national security posts that are usually approved immediately after a president takes office have remained stranded.