Vaccination obligation canceled and electoral reform blocked: a black Thursday for Joe Biden

Joe Biden was battling, Thursday, to save his vast electoral reform from parliamentary wreckage, after seeing the Supreme Court block his vaccine obligation in business, during a Black Thursday which bluntly exposed the weaknesses of the American president.

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“I hope we get there but I’m not sure,” he admitted, visibly tense, about his great law to protect the access of African Americans to the polls. He had traveled, which is extremely rare, to the Capitol for a meeting with the Democratic senators, devoted to the project. “If we fail the first time, we can try a second time,” added the 79-year-old president, however, who continues to struggle.

In the evening, he received Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, two moderate Democrats who are blocking the project for the moment. The meeting, which lasted just over an hour, ended shortly before 7 p.m. (1 a.m. in Switzerland), according to a White House official.

Biden maneuver torpedoed by two senators

Joe Biden has promised to protect minority access to ballot boxes and the transparency of voting operations in the face of a host of reforms undertaken by conservative states, particularly in the south of the country. NGOs assure that these measures adopted by Republicans particularly discriminate against African Americans, who overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden in the last election.

Also read: Joe Biden backs Senate rule change to pass minority suffrage laws

To block, the Democratic president wants to harmonize voting practices and give the federal state a right of scrutiny over local initiatives. To pass this great reform to the Senate, it would in theory need a majority increased by 60 votes. However, the Democratic camp has 50 votes plus that of Vice-President Kamala Harris, and the Republicans 50.

Failing to be able to convince opposition senators, fiercely opposed, the Democrats have only one solution to save their project: to break this parliamentary practice and to force a simple majority.

But this maneuver was torpedoed first by Kyrsten Sinema. According to the senator from Arizona, this strategy would only fuel the “infernal spiral of division”. Joe Manchin, another centrist senator, said in a statement that he would not “vote to eliminate or weaken” this increased majority rule.

The two elected officials are favorable to the reform itself, but have never made a secret of their attachment to the threshold of 60 votes – even in a political landscape polarized as never perhaps, where, after the tumultuous mandate of Donald Trump, partisan dialogue has become extremely difficult, if not impossible. Without their voices, the reform is doomed.

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The measure denounced as an abuse of power by the Republicans

Joe Biden can not do anything, however, after the decision of the Supreme Court, which blocked its decision to impose either the anti-Covid vaccine or regular tests in companies with more than 100 employees. He said he was “disappointed”.

The measure, dear to Joe Biden, was denounced as an abuse of power by elected Republican officials. In a country where only 62% of the population is fully vaccinated, the question reveals deep political divides.

However, the high court has validated the vaccination obligation for employees of health structures that benefit from federal funds.

Read more: Joe Biden, facing his responsibilities

Risk of paralysis after the midterm elections

This succession of bad news erodes a little more the political credit of a president who is already very unpopular and who has perhaps made too big promises, with too little room for maneuver. He must deal with a Congress that he does not really control, conservative states in open rebellion on multiple subjects (abortion, voting rights, health strategy …), and a Supreme Court now very conservative, after the appointments made. by Donald Trump.

In a few months, Joe Biden also risks losing any majority in Congress in the mid-term legislative elections. He would then, in fact, be paralyzed until the next presidential election.

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