SEUNG MIN KIM and ZEKE MILLER at AP:
Over five decades in Washington, Joe Biden knew that the way to influence was to be in the room where it happens. But in the second year of his presidency, some of Biden’s most striking, legacy-defining legislative victories came about by staying out of it.A summer lawmaking blitz has sent bipartisan bills addressing gun violence and boosting the nation’s high-tech manufacturing sector to Biden’s desk, and the president is now on the cusp of securing what he called the “final piece” of his economic agenda with Senate passage of a Democrats-only climate and prescription drug deal once thought dead. And in a counterintuitive turn for the president who has long promoted his decades of Capitol Hill experience, Biden’s aides chalk up his victories to the fact that he’s been publicly playing the role of cheerleader rather than legislative quarterback.
“In a 50-50 Senate, it’s just true that when the White House takes ownership over a topic, it scares off a lot of Republicans,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. “I think all of this is purposeful. When you step back and let Congress lead, and then apply pressure and help at the right times, it can be a much more effective strategy to get things done.”
Democrats and the White House hope the run of legislative victories, both bipartisan and not, just four months before the November elections will help resuscitate their political fortunes by showing voters what they can accomplish with even the slimmest of majorities.
Biden opened 2022 with his legislative agenda at a standstill, poll numbers on the decline and a candid admission that he had made a “mistake” in how he carried himself in the role.
“The public doesn’t want me to be the ‘President-Senator,’” he said. “They want me to be the president and let senators be senators.”