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Reports indicate that Biden plans to take executive actions on police reform sometime later this month in an effort to bypass the stalemate in Congress.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Biden’s poll numbers have fallen to 33% as he continues to struggle with his landmark Build Back Better plan and voting rights legislation.
Both Republicans and Democrats have proposed plans for police reform since protests over police brutality followed the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.
In a last-ditch effort to boost the president’s achievements record ahead of his State of the Union address on March 1, the police reform action appears to be part of the president’s efforts.
Sources tell NBC News that Democrats are looking for ways to pass voting rights bills and the Build Back Better package, either by reducing the size of the package or by breaking it up into multiple bills in Congress.
In contrast to the Department of Justice’s actions last year that restricted chokeholds and ‘no-knock’ warrants, the executive actions are still being formulated, and it is not yet clear exactly how they will differ.
According to NBC News, Biden is planning to launch the new reform during Black History month, in an effort to bolster waning Democratic support among Black voters. Black voters are a key demographic for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.
According to the new Quinnipiac poll, 57% of Black Americans approve of Biden’s job in office, which is still higher than any other demographic but down from 78% in April 2021.
Last year, the White House withheld executive action as the House of Representatives and the Senate worked on their own legislation. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Tim Scott of South Carolina announced in September that they had halted their police reform talks due to a lack of progress in bridging their differences.
Lawmakers hit a snag when it came to qualified immunity, which shields police officers from civil suits. A statement by Booker emphasized that Democrats ‘could not let go of their push to defund our law enforcement.’
Nonetheless, White House press secretary Jen Psaki hinted Thursday that President Biden was willing to take action on his own.
‘I think there’s a recognition and a commitment by the president to deliver on what he promised,’ she said.
Democratic Senators are also looking into new ways to pass police reform. Rep. Jim Clyburn, S.C., the third most powerful Democrat in the House, told NBC News he was considering attaching the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to a “must-pass” bill such as the budget.
Clyburn, whose endorsement of Biden was crucial to his nomination, wants the president to do a good job of not forgetting Black voters who sent him to the White House.
Clyburn said Biden in particular was pushed to take tougher measures on voting rights, even at the cost of laying down the hammer with fellow Democrats.
During his fiery remarks on Tuesday in Atlanta, Biden said he is ‘tired of being quiet’ and it is time to act on voting rights.
‘I have been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months,’ he said, then slamming the podium and yelling, ‘I’m tired of being quiet!’
In addition, he attacked the Senate, a branch of government he served for 36 years.
‘Sadly, the United States Senate designed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body has been rendered a shell of its former self,’ Biden said.
In his speech, he urged the Senate to change its rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold necessary to advance two votes. GOP senators oppose the move, as do two Democrats, W. VA.’s Joe Manchin, and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema.
‘I believe the threat to democracy is so great that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills. Debate them, vote, let the majority prevail. And at that very minute, it was blocked, we had no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this,’ Biden proclaimed.
Democratic negotiations on Build Back Better have fallen apart after Democrats couldn’t persuade Manchin to accept many of their key provisions, and Congress has since refocused on voting rights. On Thursday, the House passed a massive package overhauling voting procedures at the federal level, and it sent it to the Senate, which also remains without a way forward given that both Manchin and Sinema have stated that they are opposed to reforming filibuster rules.
Dems may be affected by this as the midterms approach.
Biden raised eyebrows this week when he suggested that anyone opposing his party’s voting rights measures is, in essence, supporting segregation.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard tweeted: “Biden promised to unite us, but he is doing all he can to divide us.”
Hillary’s calling tens of millions of Americans deplorables was divisive & disgusting. But Biden has gone further, calling those who disagree with his actions & policies domestic enemies, traitors, and racists. Biden promised to unite us, but he is doing all he can do divide us. pic.twitter.com/1XKS9rfZQT
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2022
Biden’s number two Democrat in the Senate admits he was being harsh.
“It is stark and I will concede that point,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said. “Perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric, some of us do.”
While Biden’s agenda is stalled on Capitol Hill, his poll numbers are dipping. As of Wednesday’s Quinnipiac poll, Biden had a 33 percent approval rating, his lowest rating as president, as well as an approval rating of 75% among Democrats, a 12 point drop since November.
“Biden, on the polling average, is at 42-43%, with a solid majority. About 53% disapproval. There is no way Democrats are going to hold onto Congress if those numbers hold,” According to Larry Sabato, the Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.