Despite the fact that the Democratic Party won the majority of seats in the Senate, there is a possibility that senators from the same bench could play against the left in the U.S. Senate and thus hinder some radical policies of the Biden-Harris Administration.
The Senate is composed of 100 seats, 50 belong to the Republicans, while the other 50 are in the hands of the Democrats. However, it would be Vice-President Kamala Harris who would be in charge of defining any tie.
But this situation may change, as within the Democratic Party itself there are more “moderate” senators who may vote with the Republican Party to reverse the advantage of the Democrat majority in some votes.
Such is the case of Democrat Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.
Even though Democrats lead both the Congress and the Senate, at least 60 votes are needed in the upper chamber in order to interrupt a debate and proceed to a vote on a bill; which will soften the most ambitious plans of the new administration and also of its most Progressive members.
Patricio Navia, a professor of Liberal Studies at New York University, told Voice of America that “among the Democratic senators there is a group of about 10 who are quite moderate.” He added that “neither the far right nor the far left have enough votes to get their agendas on track.”
Biden’s transition agenda is full of plans to increase state control, a situation that could become a reality with a Democrat majority in the Senate. But these senators could reverse some of the most dangerous initiatives.
There is a movement in the upper chamber to eliminate the filibuster, the 60-vote requirement mentioned above, which would only require a simple majority: that is, 50 plus 1. But, for example, Democrat Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he will oppose it, so it is very likely that the 60-vote rule will remain in place.
Manchin is against adding members to the U.S. Supreme Court and has called the Democrats’ most left-leaning proposals, including the Green New Deal, “socialism.”
According to the political website FiveThirtyEight, Manchin’s votes were in line with Donald Trump’s position 51% of the time.
There is also Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) who has been criticized by her own party. In 2018 she said she would vote against Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for Senate Democratic minority leadership. “The Democratic leadership has failed Democrats across the country,” she said. “I’m not afraid to say what I believe about what I think our party needs to do and I think our party needs to grow and change,” she asserted at the time.
Sinema also voted 50.4% of the time in favor of Donald Trump’s initiatives; and this year he has preferred to stay away from commenting on the new impeachment against the former president.
Another Democrat who could make the counterweight is Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who despite blaming Trump for the violent attack on the Capitol, differed from the Democrats’ position by stating that impeachment was “unlikely on such short notice” before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.
Tester presents himself as a moderate Democrat. In fact, he has split with Democrats on a few occasions. The most recent came when he endorsed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. This is a project that Biden wants to reverse.
The Democratic senator voted for Trump’s position about 31% of the time through April 2020, and about half the time in 2017 and 2018.
Finally, there is also Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who at the last minute decided to endorse Biden on the campaign trail. Hassan recently participated in a bipartisan Trump Administration task force to support reopening the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It remains to be seen what will happen in the Senate after the Democratic Party announced a number of wishes from the left that could come true.
Democrats would give green light to Biden’s agenda
The Biden transition agenda is full of plans to increase state control. Biden-Harris have already released their proposals, and one of the things of most concern is that they would use the “Defense Production Act” to address the COVID-19 pandemic issue. This law allows the federal government to take control of private industries.
Another regulation of concern is that under the emergency economic recovery Biden would implement a minimum hourly wage of $15.00, a provision that could establish national price controls and undermine the free market.
An article published by journalist Brad Polumbo for FEE mentions a study conducted by four economists from Stanford University, where Biden’s proposals were analyzed. It concludes that government interventions would distort work incentives, lower productivity and kill jobs.
“The Democrats’ impending socialist assault on our nation will make President Obama’s first two years in office look moderate,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) denounced before the elections that gave the Senate majority to the Democratic Party.
The Republican senator warned that with the majority, the Democrats will make socialist initiatives such as the “Green New Deal, socialized medicine, European-style taxes on American industry and workers, radical regulations that will hurt small businesses, and capitulation to the Chinese Communist Party will be on the agenda,” he said.