The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Joe Biden is operating in a rare political sweet spot. Now he wants to cut some deals.
Biden wakes up to his first full day as president with his party controlling the House and Senate and largely lined up behind him. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump is at a political low point, with Republicans divided about their future and an impeachment trial still a few days away from reviving partisan spirits.
Now, coming off a calm and peaceful transition day, the new president's call to "start afresh" and listen to dissenting voices has the Biden White House looking for bipartisan buy-in. The focus turns to COVID-19 relief on Thursday, and the president's proposed package on the table is open to negotiation.
"He is no stranger to the process of deal-making," new White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday evening.
There are plenty of reasons to think an open hand will be slapped back, without even getting into legislative details. There's Biden's own past experience as vice president, the scars of the Trump years, and the attack on the Capitol itself that was fueled by a segment of a political movement that refuses to accept basic facts.
But some of those same reasons underscore the urgencies of the moment. Biden has been around long enough to know how rare it is to control the Washington narrative -- and to know that action can bring more action, in ways that could be stronger than the concept of a mandate.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
It was an inauguration and a homecoming of sorts. The staff may have changed over in the White House, but many of the individual staffers have worked in the building before.
"He also said he felt like he was coming home," Psaki said during her first White House press briefing. "Remember, he spent eight years here as the vice president, playing an important role as a partner to President Obama. And, you know, that was the emotion that overtook him today," she added.
Everyone from Sen. Roy Blunt to former Secretary of State Colin Powell seemed to tell ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos something similar -- that Washington knows Biden, and he knows the town.
The question now, will all that institutional knowledge be outdated or incredibly useful? Will it pay dividends or keep Biden from pushing the envelope?
One thing too that Biden has working in his favor is that sense of familiarity extends way beyond the Beltway too. Average voters so often talk about knowing Biden, understanding his brand and what he stands for -- even before he won and got to work.
The TIP with Allison Pecorin
Democrats took the reins of the Senate Wednesday, ushering in Democratic priorities for the narrow majority. New Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that one of his first priorities will be securing the confirmation of key Biden nominees, particularly in the areas of national security and the economy. The first confirmation came Wednesday evening, but Biden still lags behind other new presidents on Day One conferees.
Part of the delay involves a disagreement between new Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Schumer on rules governing the power sharing of a Senate split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting any necessary tie-breaking votes. McConnell wants assurances from Schumer, according to Senate aides, that he will not abolish the filibuster rules that require 60 votes to pass most legislation. That's an agreement Schumer isn't quite ready to make, according to Democratic sources familiar with the matter.
Senate Democrats are also focused on getting a COVID-19 relief package -- modeled after Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal -- passed. Sources told ABC News that the bipartisan Senate group that was crucial in crafting the last coronavirus relief compromise is poised to meet -- perhaps as early as this weekend -- with Biden's head of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese. That group includes GOP Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Joe Manchin. The Biden team has already reached out to one member of that group -- Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- to discuss the president's latest $2 trillion proposal, the senator told ABC News on Wednesday.
The Senate's ability to move to any priority expeditiously could be slowed if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivers the article of impeachment against Trump and forces the Senate into a trial. Schumer and McConnell must work together if they want to allow the Senate to work through other business while an impeachment trial is ongoing.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's special edition of "Start Here" features a full recap of Wednesday's inauguration and examines the first actions of President Joe Biden. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. On the first FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast episode of the Biden presidency, the crew reacts to President Joe Biden's inauguration speech -- particularly whether any attempt to unite the country will be successful -- and looks at what his policy plans are for his first week in office. https://53eig.ht/3iuMZfI
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