White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave a briefing on Thursday outlining some of the steps taken by the Biden administration since his inauguration. Surprisingly, a New York Times reporter named Michael Shear took her to task regarding Biden’s calls for unity and bipartisanship, and yet he doesn’t have even one Republican in his Cabinet. He wanted to know why.
Shear fearlessly cornered Psaki and told her “if there’s this call for unity that the President made in his speech yesterday, but there has so far been almost no fig leaf even to the Republican Party.” He pointed out how all they’ve done is reverse Trump’s legacy and haven’t made any effort at all to unify Congress.
“You don’t have a Republican Cabinet member, like President Obama and, I think, President Clinton had,” he stated. “You — you know, the executive orders that he’s come out the gate have been largely designed at erasing as much of the Trump legacy as you can with executive orders, much of which the Republican Party likes and agrees with. You’ve put forth an immigration bill that has a path to citizenship but doesn’t do much of a nod towards the border security. And you’ve got a 1.9-trillion-dollar COVID relief bill that has, as folks have said, already drawn all sorts of criticism. Where is the — where is the actual action behind this idea of bipartisanship?”
“And when are we going to see one of those, you know, sort of, substantial outreaches that says, ‘This is something that, you know, the Republicans want to do, too?” He did not get the answer he was looking for.
Psaki nervously laughed and responded, “there’s a lot in there, so let me do my best here.”
“But, Mike, is unemployment insurance only an issue that Democrats in the country want?” Psaki asked in reply. “Do only Democrats want their kids to go back to schools? Do only Democrats want vaccines to be distributed across the country? That’s — we feel that that package — he feels that package is designed for bipartisan support.”
Psaki also cited Senate confirmations as somehow evidence of bipartisanship and concluded by telling Shear: “I think if you talk to Democrats — or Republicans on the Hill, which I know many of you do, they will say they’re not looking for something symbolic. They are looking for engagement. They’re looking to have a conversation. They’re looking to have a dialogue. And that’s exactly what he’s going to do.”
— Hanna Houdali (@houdali) January 16, 2021
In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It’s traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration.
“He was involved, even before yesterday, having conversations with members of both parties, picking up the phone and having those conversations,” Psaki said of Biden’s desire to find common ground on new legislation. But many would argue that is not the same as bipartisanship.
She neatly sidestepped the question of unity and bipartisanship altogether. No matter how Psaki claims the administration is doing things, the fact is none of it is really in the interests of Republicans so far.
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