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President Biden took several major losses in just the first two weeks of the new year, including on his major initiatives on vaccine mandates and election laws, as the administration limps into a midterm election year struggling to unite its party and accomplish its goals.
Two of the biggest blows to the White House this year came on Thursday – one at the hands of two Democratic senators and another from the Supreme Court.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., went to the Senate floor Thursday afternoon to detail her opposition to partisan changes to the Senate filibuster, essentially killing Democrats’ plan to pass two major elections bills.
“Today marks the longest time in history that the Senate has been equally divided,” Sinema said Thursday. “The House of Representatives is nearly equally divided as well. Our mandate, it seems evident to me, [is] work together and get stuff done for America.”
President Biden speaks after exiting a meeting with the Senate Democratic Caucus in Washington, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
SINEMA DOUBLES DOWN ON FILIBUSTER SUPPORT, DEALING LIKELY FATAL BLOW TO DEMS’ ELECTIONS BILLS
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a statement saying essentially the same thing later Thursday.
That story could have dominated the news cycle for several days. It only lasted a couple of hours before the next batch of bad news for the Biden administration: The Supreme Court blocked the president’s vaccine mandate for large private employers.
The court ruled that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) likely lacked the authority to impose such a mandate because the law that created OSHA “empowers the Secretary to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.”
The Supreme Court did allow the administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers to go forward. But the OSHA mandate on large businesses reached many more Americans. The ruling means the administration won’t be able to enforce that mandate while legal challenges continue, perhaps for months, in lower courts.
The twin losses on two major issues within a few hours came as the White House was already reeling to start the new year.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., delivers remarks on the Senate floor in support of the legislative filibuster, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.
SUPREME COURT BLOCKS BIDEN OSHA VACCINE MANDATE, ALLOWS RULE FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS
Massive inflation numbers announced Wednesday made it even more unlikely that Democrats would be able to salvage their massive reconciliation spending bill, which Manchin announced last month he opposes on “Fox News Sunday.” That was the president’s biggest domestic legislative priority, and now it is dead.
Meanwhile, the White House is still struggling to make rapid COVID-19 tests available via mail to all Americans – an idea White House press secretary Jen Psaki initially mocked before the holidays – after a shortage of tests over the holidays. Vice President Kamala Harris struggled to explain with specifics in an interview Tuesday with NBC News.
NBC’s Craig Melvin asked Harris when the White House’s 500 million tests would be available for Americans. Harris responded that they are “going to go
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