President Biden calls for unity. Will he get it?

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President-elect Joe Biden takes the Oath of Office to become the 46th president of the United States as he is sworn-in by Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts during the Inauguration Day ceremony held at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden becomes the 46th President of the United States at noon on Inauguration Day. Photo by Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA.

America has a new president. Joe Biden called for unity in his inaugural address, but he enters office with the country facing huge challenges and with the slimmest of majorities in Congress, making it harder for him to move the agenda he wants. Can he get unity in Congress to support his agenda, or will the fate of the filibuster make or break his agenda? How much could it slow down priorities, and should Democrats just get rid of it now? Lanhee Chen says there’s a good reason for Republicans to fight for the filibuster: it’s an important and meaningful way for the party to have an impact and build messaging into the 2022 midterms. David Dayen says Democrats might need to see a big, important piece of policy — like Biden’s proposed coronavirus relief package — fail because of the filibuster in order for Democrats to support getting rid of it.

On that coronavirus relief bill, moderates aren’t thrilled about everything in it. The panel discusses whether a slimmed down approach (checks and vaccine money) could be enough. And is the Biden administration really at square one, with no vaccine rollout plan they can work with? 

Finally: in President Biden, the United States has an internationalist leader again, and the world is watching. Do we just carry on as things were before President Trump and America First, or will there be persistent changes to our foreign relations, either because of damage that is difficult to undo or because President Trump rightly pointed out necessary departures? And as there is more bipartisan agreement about countering China, what will the Biden administration’s strategy be?

Credits

Guest:
Dina Smeltz - Senior fellow, public opinion and foreign policy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Hosts:
David Dayen, Josh Barro, Lanhee Chen

Producer:
Sara Fay