On Jan. 3, the 118th Congress commenced with the lowest expectations that Americans won’t see any meaningful legislation passed.
Instead, pundits, political watchers and the general public have every reason to expect gridlock in 2023 – and perhaps beyond.
With Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans enjoying the majority in the House, much of any bill or other signings by President Joe Biden would likely come in the form of executive orders.
“The first three months of , we should all just kind of avert our eyes. There’s a tremendous amount of pent-up aggression,” Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in a recently published interview.
Grumet said Americans should expect a bumpy start to the new Congress. But once the growing pains subside, Grumet argued there is room for cooperation and productivity.
“There will be some very angry moments, but there will also be some quiet, competent moments that I think will advance a national policy agenda,” said Grumet.
Grumet explained lawmakers could find common ground on issues like homelessness, mental health, immigration reform and more. Still, he does not expect grand legislative victories to go down in the history books.
The new Congress includes 89 incoming representatives, the largest class in three decades.
The House plans 30 weeks of sessions in 2023 and Republicans may use much of that to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.
Radicals like Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado want the House to consider impeaching Biden, citing America’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and the president’s immigration and border policies.
Meanwhile, House Democrats will have new representation, led by New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the first African American to lead a major party in the history of Congress.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 65% of American adults think Biden will fail to pass any of his initiatives over the next two years.
Approximately 61% said they also expect the GOP to fall short of its goals.
Only 8% of respondents said they expect relations between Republicans and Democrats to improve in 2023.
About 48% of Democrats and Independents who vote with Democrats predicted success for Biden over the next two years, and 44% of Republicans and those who vote Republican anticipate GOP leaders in Congress to get their programs passed into law.
“These first two years were full Democratic control. And a number of the big-ticket items were voted along party lines, so just Democrats passing those for Biden,” Laura Barrón-López, the White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, said during a broadcast.
“That includes, of course, the big COVID response funding at the beginning of his presidency and then, more recently this year, the Inflation Reduction Act, which was that big Democratic wish list bill that had climate change, action, prescription drug reform, as well as, of course, Affordable Care Act subsidies,” Barrón-López continued.
She noted that Biden enjoys talking about the successful bipartisan bills, adding that the president has a long list that he’s enacted.
“And this is not an exhaustive list, but it includes investment in semiconductor manufacturing — that’s the big China competitiveness bill — expansion of health care for veterans that were exposed to burn pits, the big bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed with a number of — like, big negotiations that went on for a long time, gun safety, protections for same-sex marriage, Ukraine aid, and averted a rail strike,” Barrón-López added.
“So, all of these things were big bipartisan bills, and something that the president has really tried to champion and say, ‘look, a lot of people doubted that I could work with Republicans,’ and yet he did during his first two years.”
While the 117th Congress concluded with the passing of a bill to replace a bust of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney with Thurgood Marshall, the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, members of the 118th Congress will still traverse a building that contains paintings and statues that honor 140 enslavers.
“In removing Taney’s bust, I’m not asking that we would hold Taney to today’s moral standards,” said Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer.
“On the contrary, let us hold him to the standard of his contemporaries: Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and all of those who understood that the enslavement of others has always been an immoral act,” Hoyer continued.
“Figures like Taney belong in history textbooks and classroom discussions, not in marbled bronze on public display of honor.”