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Biden's vaccine diplomacy and US global leadership; US-China bill gets bipartisan support

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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Partisan wrangling likely to block January 6 commission in Congress

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 is the status of the proposed January 6 commission to investigate the Capitol assault?

The January 6 commission was an idea originally from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who proposed a commission modeled after the very successful 9/11 commission, which looked at intelligence failures leading up to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001. Pelosi wanted to form a bipartisan commission to look at the Capitol insurrection on January 6th. Why it happened, how it happened, what the security failures were that led to it happening, who's responsible, and how to prevent it from ever happening again? And initially, Republicans were fairly cold to this idea because Pelosi had proposed a commission that was stacked in favor of the Democrats, with more democratic members than Republicans. House Republican minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, empowered representative John Katko from New York to go ahead and negotiate the commission. And eventually he came up with a compromised proposal that would have been evenly balanced between Republicans and Democrats, had subpoena power, and been able to produce a report by the end of the year.

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What you should know about Elise Stefanik’s rise in the GOP

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:

Who is Elise Stefanik and what does she mean for the Republican Party right now?

Elise Stefanik is a young member from Upstate New York. She had originally started her career as a staffer in the George W. Bush administration, but in recent years, has turned into one of the most outspoken defenders of President Donald Trump, particularly during the impeachment trial last year. She's relevant right now because it looks like she'll be replacing Liz Cheney, the Representative from Wyoming and also the daughter of the former Vice President, who has been outspoken in her criticism of President Trump since the January 6th insurrection, and probably more importantly, outspoken in her criticism of the direction of the Republican Party.

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Grading President Biden's first 100 days; 2020 US Census helps Sun Belt states

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:

How would you grade President Biden's performance in his first 100 days?

Well, Biden's done pretty well in this first 100 days. He's done a good job on what's the number one most important issue facing his administration and that's the coronavirus response. He hit his goal of 100 million vaccinations within the first month or so of his administration. And they increased that to 200 million vaccinations, which they hit on day 92. So that's a pretty successful start. They inherited a lot of that from President Trump to be fair. Operation Warp Speed set the US up for success and Biden delivered after he came into office. And of course, the second thing is his COVID relief package, which the US has taken advantage of a favorable funding environment to borrow trillions of dollars and get them into the hands of American small businesses and families and has really helped the economy through what has been a very bad year but could have been a lot worse if the government hadn't intervened. The bill has been very popular, and it set the stage for a follow on bill that Biden wants to deliver for big priorities for democrats later this year, potentially as much as $4 trillion in spending.

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George Floyd Police Reform Bill unlikely to pass Senate

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

With the conviction of Derek Chauvin, will there be a George Floyd Policing Reform Bill?

Unlikely right now. It's possible, but there's a big divide between Republicans and Democrats over the issue of eliminating qualified immunity. Democrats want to get rid of it. Republicans want to keep it in order to make sure that cops aren't exposed to too much liability while they're on the job. And to get anything done in the Senate, you need 60 votes, which would, of course, require 10 Republicans. So, conversations are likely to be ongoing, but this issue went nowhere during the Trump administration because both sides decided they wanted something, to make something political out of it, and I don't think that much is going to change now.

Why did President Biden flip-flop on the refugee cap?

President Biden promised during the campaign that he would lift President Trump's refugee cap from 15,000 to its old level of 65,000. But with a surging migrant crisis on the southern border, Biden decided this wasn't a priority and changed his mind a little bit on undoing the refugee cap. The administration announced this last Friday and there was a lot of pushback from migrant and refugee advocates against them for doing so. They later that evening flip-flopped again and said that sometime in May they were going to announce a new policy that would satisfy most of their allies on the left. But the issue of the border is still a big one for President Biden, one that's been dormant for quite some time. But with a surging number of children in particular rising on the southern border, it's not going to go away.

Will Washington, DC become the 51st state?

I'm standing here on a street corner in DC and I think the answer is probably also unlikely. And the reason is similar to the George Floyd Bill, that you cannot get 60 votes in the Senate to pass this. You'd have to eliminate the filibuster and even if you did that, it's unclear today if there are 50 Democrats in the Senate who would favor doing so. The House has now passed the bill multiple times to make DC a state, but the outlook in the Senate is just not that good. Stay tuned, because this is going to be a really important political issue throughout the year, especially as the Democrats look at the likelihood they might lose the House of Representatives next year.

Biden infrastructure plan would boost jobs; Georgia voter law tensions

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

What specifics do you expect to be in Biden's "build back better" infrastructure plan?

Well, this is really a two-part plan. The first part Biden's rolling out this week, and it's focused mainly on infrastructure. Bridges, roads, tunnels, transit, the whole infrastructure smorgasbord, including on broadband deployment, as well as investing in things like rural hospitals, schools and upgrading buildings to be more energy efficient. Biden's proposed between $2 and $2.5 trillion depending on how you do the math, paid for by tax increases primarily falling on the corporate sector that actually spread out over 15 years, as opposed to the bill's spending, which spreads out over 10. That means the bill will be mildly stimulative to the economy on top of creating potentially new jobs through the direct spending that's going to happen.

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Biden's first press conference reaffirms his working man approach

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:

Joe Biden gave the first press conference of his presidency today, a much-anticipated event that a lot of political reporters were pretty excited about, that didn't really move the needle on any messaging aspects of the administration.

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Immigration reform so divisive that even Democrats can't agree

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

Is the surging immigration crisis the biggest challenge for the still new Biden administration?

I wouldn't say the immigration crisis is the biggest policy challenge, that's probably the coronavirus and getting the economy back on track and maybe a little bit of foreign policy, but it's certainly one of the biggest political challenges.

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