Biden's 'paradigm' shift gets new tests among Democrats: The Note

He'll need to navigate complex intra-party dynamics to get to the payoff.

March 31, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill got more attention and its goals may matter more in addressing the challenges of the moment.

But President Joe Biden's two-phase jobs and infrastructure package will carry a larger price tag along with potentially greater implications. The president is set to start outlining his proposal Wednesday in Pittsburgh -- the same city where he launched his campaign -- in the midst of a defining challenge to his vow to "change the paradigm."

The action will be primarily, if not exclusively, inside his own party. Both Biden and Democratic congressional leaders are tacitly counting out Republican buy-in, and they know that even bending or changing Senate rules only matters if Democrats are almost entirely on board with the plan.

That plan will include billions upon billions for things like roads, bridges and broadband. Billions more would flow toward what progressives have categorized as "human infrastructure" -- paid family leave, college access, housing, elder care -- all while seeking to deliver on climate-change and social-justice goals.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the White House campus in Washington,  March 29, 2021.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the White House campus in Washington, March 29, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters, FILE

As for how it would be funded, pockets of Democrats are already staking out territory about what new taxes should be in and what should be out. While some fret over the optics and wisdom of a massive tax hike -- albeit one aimed at the rich and corporations -- others are already saying the president should be spending more as opposed to less.

"We think there is ample room to get the number up," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, told reporters Tuesday.

Biden's proposals will be scored, amended and picked apart. But if he is to make good on what he's promising, he'll need to navigate complex intra-party dynamics to get to the payoff.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is doubling down on the sweeping voting legislation he signed into law last week as the fallout from it continues. Calls to boycott Georgia-based companies are growing and the arrest of a Black state lawmaker inflamed an already fierce response.

In an interview with Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV Tuesday, Kemp criticized his opponents who describe the law as voter suppression that disproportionately impacts voters of color. He dismissed organizations pointing to Georgia's record of discriminatory voting practices and diminished legitimate concerns about equitable access to the ballot box as a form of "cancel culture."

"I knew what was coming from the other side. I knew that they were going to try to do this boycott, cancel culture and everything else," Kemp said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp makes remarks about the state's COVID-19 vaccination roll-out during a news conference at the Georgia State Capitol, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, FILE

Kemp maintained that the bill makes it "easy to vote and hard to cheat," but a lawsuit filed this week by civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other organizations interprets the new law very differently.

The groups argue that it will disenfranchise voters including people of color, new citizens and religious communities. The coalition is asking the court to strike it down. The resolution remains to be seen, but whatever the court decides could have an impact far beyond the Peach State as Republican state lawmakers across the country have filed bills to roll back voting access.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Despite the next two cycles of elections being several political lifetimes away, a series of culture wars that are likely to resurface on future campaign trails appear to be emerging in several Republican-led states over the issues of transgender rights.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem -- who is widely considered a possible 2024 presidential aspirant -- is the latest official to be at the center of debates surrounding a groundswell of bills that aim to ban transgender students from playing on school sports on teams according to the gender with which they identify. But Noem's attempt to take on the highly sensitive topic had a rocky start.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on Feb. 27, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images, FILE

Earlier this month, Noem expressed excitement at the prospect of "defending women's sports" in signing her state's version of a bill that sought to ban transgender women and girls from playing on female sport teams. This week, Noem essentially killed the legislation after failing to come to a compromise with state lawmakers regarding her suggested revisions, and instead, issued two executive orders that some social conservatives say don't go far enough.

In a Tuesday National Review op-ed, Noem stood her ground by citing concerns over the initial bill being "a trial lawyer's dream." Meanwhile, LGBTQ advocates applauded the outcome: "We're thrilled with the decision by South Dakota lawmakers to kill this bill," said Jett Jonelis, an ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager, in a statement.


Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., on Tuesday denied that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl amid new reports that the Justice Department was investigating the alleged relationship -- claiming the probe was part of an elaborate extortion scheme. The investigation, first reported by The New York Times, began last summer and focuses on whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with an underage girl and paid for her to travel with him, and whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws, a source aware of the investigation confirmed to ABC News.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features ABC News Senior White House correspondent Mary Bruce, who previews President Joe Biden’s big infrastructure announcement Wednesday. ABC News Senior Editorial producer John Santucci has the latest on Rep. Matt Gaetz amid revelations of a federal sex trafficking investigation. And Nicole Hassoun from Binghamton University explains why vaccine passports have become an ethical debate in the tech and health care industries.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., talks with ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl about her new book, "Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir."

FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew contextualizes Georgia's new voting laws and discusses the challenges facing the Biden administration on immigration policy in the short and long term.


  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris receive the president's daily brief at 10:15 a.m. The president travels to Pittsburgh to deliver remarks on his economic vision for the future and the Biden-Harris administration's plan to "Build Back Better" at 4:20 p.m.
  • The White House COVID-19 Response team and public health officials hold a press briefing at 11 a.m.
  • The vice president convenes a roundtable discussion at 1:30 p.m. with faith leaders on their efforts to encourage communities to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • First lady Jill Biden travels to Delano, California, to participate in a Day of Action at The Forty Acres with the Cesar Chavez Foundation, United Farm Workers, the UFW Foundation, Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force, Kern County, and Kern Medical Center. She will be joined at 2:25 p.m. PT event by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
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