US Politics

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

What are the details of the Democrats' proposed $3.5 trillion budget blueprint?

Well, the Democrats this week in the Senate Budget Committee agreed to move forward with the plan to spend $3.5 trillion spread out over about 10 years on a huge portion of President Biden's Build Back Better Plan. This comes on top of a bipartisan agreement, at least in principle, on another $600 billion in physical infrastructure, which is roads, bridges, tunnels, repair, broadband deployment and a whole bunch of other physical infrastructure spending that Republicans and Democrats agree they want to do but aren't clear on how they want to pay for. But on the $3.5 trillion in spending, this is a lot of new social services, it's extending a number of tax subsidies that are going to low-income families and families with kids as part of the American Rescue Plan, which was the Biden stimulus bill that passed earlier in the year. It also includes money for two years of community college, universal preschool, and expands Medicare to cover things like dental benefits and other things that Medicare currently doesn't pay for.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is forming a January 6th committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection. What do you expect to come from it?

Well, the committee is allowed to perform with the input from minority Republicans, but the Republicans are basically refusing to participate. Which means that most committee members, with the exception of probably Liz Cheney, the Trump critical member of Congress from Wyoming and daughter of the former vice president, are going to be Democrats. And the Democrats are going to probably go into this with an earnest desire to look at what happened on January 6th, who instigated the riot, why it happened, why the signs were missed at the Capitol by the Capitol police and others. What's likely going to come out of this is a lot of partisan messaging, trying to link the Republican party to the insurgence that stormed the Capitol on January 6th. That will help to harden views around January 6th and lead to more ongoing partisan battling in the advance of the 2022 midterm elections. So, expect a lot of heat, but not a lot of light to come out of this investigation. It'll probably be dismissed by Republican critics, even if its findings were to be sound.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

With the For the People Act not passed in the Senate, what's the outlook on Democrats' election reform?

Well, the thing about election laws is that they're really all about power, how to get it, how to maintain it once you have it. And the Republicans and the Democrats are unlikely to agree on even the basics of what's wrong with our election system today, and they were definitely unlikely to agree on how to reform those things. So there's really no consensus on Capitol Hill on what's broken about the current election law. You've got Republicans at the state level who are pushing, rolling back some of the more generous rules that were laid out during coronavirus. You also have some that are trying to combat President Trump's allegations of widespread fraud during the 2020 election cycle. Democrats, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to make it easier to vote, to expand access to the vote. And that's part of what was in the federal legislation that Republicans voted down.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent policy developments:

With the Supreme Court's recent decision, is the Affordable Care Act here to stay?

Yes, this was the Court's third ruling on the Affordable Care Act upholding its constitutionality. This challenge was brought by Republican attorneys general who argued that the repeal of the individual mandate tax undermined the court's previous justification for allowing the law to stand. They were unsuccessful, yet again. And the political salience of the Affordable Care Act has really diminished in the last several years, with Republicans moving on to fight other issues and the Court signaling very strongly they don't want to get involved in overturning this piece of legislation. The Affordable Care Act will be here at least until Congress wants to legislate on it again.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

What's the significance of the US-China bill, competition bill that passed the Senate earlier this week?

Well, the bill is a major investment in American technology, research and development, semiconductor manufacturing, and it's designed to push back on the China Made in 2025 push that lawmakers have become increasingly worried about in recent years. The opinion in Washington has shifted from seeing China as a strategic competitor to a strategic rival. And you're seeing what's now likely to be one of the only bipartisan bills in Congress now pushing back on that. Significant money for semiconductors in this bill, even though some of it was set aside for automotive purposes. That money's not going to come online fast enough to really make a difference to the current global semiconductor shortage, but it will help build up US long-term spending capacity and manufacturing capacity in semiconductors.

Other aspects of the bill, banned the application TikTok from going on government devices out of security concerns, created new sanctions authorities around Xinjiang and Hong Kong for human rights abuses, and mandated a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, which is probably going to happen anyway once the Biden administration is able to align with its allies. Let the athletes play. Don't let any high level delegations go. This is probably the only bipartisan bill to happen this year, yet still, half of Senate Republicans voted against it because they were opposed to the kind of industrial policy they think this represents, but it does show the area where there's bipartisan agreement in a city that's very, very divided right now. China is the bad guy and Congress is moving in that direction.

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