US President Biden might well face a Republican House majority and even a Republican Senate majority next year. However, it is not impossible to imagine that he could enlist cooperation from Republicans on a shortlist of items.
Sure, a GOP takeover would certainly put an end to any progressive plans to codify Roe v. Wade. And it will put a premium on getting as much done during the lame duck as possible, including pushing out or eliminating the debt limit (to deprive Republicans of a tool to extort the president and the country), getting as many judges confirmed as possible (especially if Democrats lose the Senate) and passing Electoral Count Act reform.
The White House also would need to gird for endless investigations and perhaps even impeachment (for reasons Republicans have yet to figure out).
Yet, despite all that, some things could be accomplished (provided Democrats can extend the debt ceiling and achieve a long-term spending bill to pre-empt a shutdown).
“Cleaning up” Congress
First, Democrats have done precious little on the ethics and government reform front in the first two years of Biden’s term. Since a bill banning members’ individual stock ownership (not yet given a vote in the House or Senate) has been bipartisan, such a measure might conceivably move forward — with Republicans allowed to grab partial credit for “cleaning up” Congress.
With a Democrat in the White House, Republicans might even be persuaded to increase Hatch Act enforcement and penalties, though I would not hold out too much hope, given that they are well aware a MAGA Republican administration is much more likely to erase ethical lines than a Democratic one.
Second, some security improvement might conceivably come out of the Jan. 6 select committee that would be tempting to Republicans, or at least pressure them to act. Requiring a coordinated Capitol security plan for various law enforcement agencies and greater Secret Service oversight seem like no-brainers.
If Republicans refuse and another Jan. 6 incident occurs, the blame will fall on them. (Moreover, given their antipathy toward the FBI, they might be amenable to greater oversight for domestic threats and provisions for increased information sharing.)
Good game on immigration
Third, Republicans have talked a good game on immigration, but short of building a giant wall and keeping Title 42 in place, they have yet to identify a coherent plan to address the overwhelmed immigration system and the understaffed and scandal-plagued Customs and Border Protection agency. (By the way, if, as Donald Trump insists, the wall was built, can they skip that tiresome item?)
Without a majority in both chambers, hope of progress on the Dream Act or other sensible, comprehensive immigration reform might be impossible. However, if Republicans are bent on an all-border-security approach, the administration would be wise to tell them to put up or shut up.
Beyond grandstanding (and abusing asylum seekers), Republicans might not have workable solutions to offer on any aspect of immigration, especially solutions that focus on funding immigration courts to speed up processing.
Nevertheless, the administration could invite Congress to collaborate with and provide input on Homeland Security’s previously introduced 20-page plan. (“The plan has six pillars: surge resources; increase efficiency to reduce strain on the border; employ an aggressive consequence regime; bolster the capacity of NGOs and partner with state and local partners; go after cartels and smugglers; and work with our regional partners.”)
Safer America Plan
Fourth, Republicans insist that crime is a major campaign issue — although they’ve opposed federal funding for first responders.
The administration would be wise to send up a comprehensive crime bill that includes funding for more police and more training, widely popular gun safety measures, enhanced white-collar enforcement and other items previously included in its Safer America Plan.
If crime is more than a GOP talking point, perhaps the Biden administration can achieve some of its goals.
Biden administration has the chance to demonstrate that it is concerned with crime and immigration as well as Capitol security and ethics reform.
If Republicans can’t take yes for an answer on any of these, then voters will be able to assess for themselves which party is serious about their concerns.
Jennifer Rubin is a prominent American political columnist and author