Democrats poised for pitch-perfect series of legislative wins heading into the fallJuly 26, 2022
The so-called CHIPS-plus Act (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) would significantly boost U.S. computer chip production; the Senate voted Tuesday to advance the bill 64-32. It’s a direct response to China’s ongoing effort to become the dominant global producer of chips that power everything from smartphones, cars, and computers to medical equipment and weapons systems. The bill is a slimmed-down version of an earlier package designed to increase U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, but it’s a significant investment that will both create good-paying jobs and ultimately help ease some of the supply chain issues that have driven up the price of cars and other products. In other words, it’s also perfectly on-point for these inflationary times.
Meanwhile, codifying interracial and same-sex marriage rights would be a huge win—not to mention a morale boost—for people of color and their partners, LGBTQ Americans, and particularly younger voters who consider equality issues a non-negotiable. It would prove that putting Democrats in charge actually does matter at a time when Republicans are hellbent on tearing down as many civil liberties and privacy rights as the courts will allow. Passing the Respect for Marriage Act would help position Democrats in Congress and the White House as a bulwark against a radicalized Republican Party and its extremist Supreme Court.
One immediate hurdle to approval of the legislation is the fact that several Democratic Senators are out with health considerations (some related to COVID-19). The CHIPS-plus bill is now on a glide path to passage, but the prescription pricing bill is being advanced through the reconciliation process that will require all 50 Democratic Senators to vote for it (Sens. Manchin and Sinema back it). Right now, the absence of Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tom Carper of Delaware (both with COVID), and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont (recovering from a fall) could prove problematic.
But assuming Democrats are able to push all three popular bills through (fingers crossed), let’s step back and appreciate what that would mean for Biden’s legislative accomplishments in his first two years.
As veteran Democratic strategist Paul Begala recently pointed out on the Hacks on Tap podcast, Biden will have presided over:
- the largest investment in the middle class since FDR (through the American Rescue Plan)
- the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower
- securing the first gun safety bill since Bill Clinton
- the biggest expansion of healthcare since Barack Obama
That’s impressive, particularly when he did so with 50 Democratic Senators and just 222 Democrats in the House. For comparison’s sake, during FDR’s first two years in office starting in 1933, he had 59 Democratic Senators and 313 House Democrats. Now just imagine what Democrats could do with 52 Senators and the House.
So whatever these legislative wins may not be, they will most certainly help lower costs for millions of Americans while continuing the Biden administration’s stellar record on job creation.
In addition, the freedom to marry bill ensures civil rights protections at a time when the whole of the Republican Party has dedicated itself to tearing them down.
That’s as strong a legislative finish as perhaps Democrats could have hoped for given the deadweight of Sens. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. And it’s a well-timed rallying cry heading into the fall.
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