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Prospects for the Biden Agenda (Part 1)

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #24 |
By: William Bourque | July 7, 2021

Header photo taken from: The New York Times

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In this new series USRENEW NEWS Reporter William Bourque examines the feasibility  of implementing  the different components of President Biden’s ambitious policy agenda. In Part 1 of the  series we examine prospects for passage of Biden proposals in the areas of voting rights and gun control.

Voting Rights

After President Biden’s hard-fought victory in November, it became clear that who can vote and how they can vote would become a national talking point in his first months in office.  Indeed, President Biden has focused on voting rights but has yet to push a voting rights  bill through the heavily divided Congress.

The “For The People” Act,  was blocked by Senate Republicans before any debate or discussion even occurred.  Essentially, this bill “addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics for the three branches of government”.  This, of course, is a wide-ranging piece of legislation, which is one reason many Senate Republicans didn’t even let the bill go to the floor for debate.  It seems unlikely that Biden will be able to pass a bill with the sweeping reforms of the “For The People” act. 

However, it is entirely possible that the President will be  able to pass a series of common sense election laws that would eliminate many of the state-by-state irregularities.  For instance, we believe Biden may first take a step to reduce partisan gerrymandering by establishing laws for independent districting committees, which is a large part of the “For The People” act.  Additionally, Biden  may opt to expand voter registration to ensure that every state allows same-day registration.  All in all, we believe that Biden has a good shot at getting individual parts of the “For The People” act passed, but getting the more progressive portions, such as a ban on removing voters from voter rolls, will probably take significant effort and most likely won’t be passed this term.

Gun Control

Gun control was a prominent campaign issue for President Biden. In his first several months in office, the Biden Administration worked closely with congressional Democrats to close several loopholes in our gun-purchasing laws.  A bipartisan Senate  coalition is working towards eliminating “ghost guns”, which are weapons purchased without a background check and with no serial number and thus, no way to trace them.  In the House, the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021” has passed the house and awaits a vote in the Senate, where it will face a test of Republican approval.  This act makes sure that every legal firearm sale is done with an extensive background check, which would limit the sale of legal firearms to individuals who are unfit to own or operate one. However, it still will be a hard fought battle to bring more moderate Republicans like  Susan Collins on board with this bill.

Photo taken from: Britannica.com

As Biden pointed out on the campaign trail, repeatedly,” there’s no time to wait to act on this issue. So my view is that this should be a priority for him,” said Igor Volsky of Guns Down America.  Many more progressive members of both the House and Senate hoped that Biden would do more when it came to gun control, but it seems as though he is focused on passing attainable, bipartisan legislation before moving onto more drastic change.  We think that, if Biden can get the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act” through the Senate, it will be a sign of greater action and legislation to come.  However, if the bill stalls, it reflects the fact that  that many Americans still have this notion that Biden and democrats want to take away their guns. 

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