Biden foibles offer fodder as House Republicans eye majority
C ongressional Republicans had a wealth of topics to criticize as they commemorated the one-year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration with a festival of events, with energy bubbling as they eye taking back the House in 2022.
“We've got an economy that is damaged. You got cities, the streets, that are dangerous. We have adversaries feel emboldened,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a press conference on Thursday, flanked by two dozen House Republicans.
He tore into Biden for saying that he would work with Republicans, saying that Republicans warned the White House that it would create inflation. “One year later, we were right,” McCarthy said. “One year later, when we need tests that he was going to promise, we weren't a part of that. More Americans have died from COVID last year than the year before, and we have vaccines. This is a president quoted in his campaign: If you reached a certain level of casualty, the person shouldn't maintain being president.”
Criticism flowed from both sides of the aisle throughout the week, gaining steam as Biden received widespread criticism for his comments in a Wednesday press conference appearing to suggest that a “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukraine could mean lesser consequences and that the midterm elections “could easily be illegitimate” due to Republican-supported election law changes at the state level.
“Joe Biden came into office and he said he was going to unite the country and he was going to put COVID behind us. So, what happened? The country’s massively divided as a result of President Biden, and he’s left behind all of the major issues that the American people care about,” Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said in a press conference.
A memo sent to members last week from the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House, listed 10 “self-made crises” that Biden and Democrats face, ranging from a migration surge at the southern border to rising inflation to the handling of relations with China.
"This week, as we mark the one-year mark of the Biden presidency, the vast majority of the American people agree that the Biden presidency has been a failure,” Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said while beginning a special order floor speech series on Tuesday, citing Biden’s record-low approval ratings . “The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is stale."
House Republicans levied the attacks while chomping at the bit for the majority after the 2022 midterm elections. Election analysts say that conditions are favorable for Republicans, perhaps enough for them to gain a historic number of seats.
“Democrats don't want to have accountability and transparency, but when we get the majority, we will,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said Wednesday.
But some are urging Republicans to not get complacent or overconfident.
Stephen Miller, once a senior adviser to then-President Donald Trump, was a featured speaker at a Republican Study Committee lunch on Wednesday and offered his midterm strategy advice.
“Biden should be polling at 10%, not 33%,” Miller told the Washington Examiner after the lunch. “There's still an enormous amount of work to be done to educate the American people about what Joe Biden is doing to this country.”
“We don't just need to win the majority, but we need to win the majority by such an extraordinary amount that we have an unmistakable mandate to choke off and shut down as many of these illegal programs and policies as we can,” Miller said.
But Republicans were not going to pass up the opportunity to have a little fun while they tore down Biden and House Democrats.
House Republican leadership held a series of issue roundtables on Tuesday and Wednesday, each one focused on issues that are a sore spot for Biden: the southern border, the economy, and education.
At a roundtable about the economy on Wednesday, Arkansas Rep. French Hill wore a vintage pin that said "WIN," short for "Whip Inflation Now," in reference to President Gerald Ford's 1974 program that aimed to combat inflation in part by encouraging good individual personal savings and spending habits. It was widely criticized , including by then-Sen. Biden.
Hill said that Ford’s campaign was a “dumb idea” but that “Joe Biden doesn’t even have a bad idea. His only idea is to spend trillions more to get it to stop.”
McCarthy, Scalise, and Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik concluded a day of Biden-bashing Thursday afternoon with a live event in the Capitol complex alongside the Republican strategist hosts of the Ruthless podcast, a political commentary show popular with operatives on the Right.
“We tried to get Statuary Hall. They wouldn’t let us,” McCarthy said, referencing CNN hosting a live special on Jan. 6 in the historic hall adjacent to the Capitol rotunda.